A Time of Testing

March 7, 2012

Prepper Mindset


We sold off most of our goats a while back because they were wreaking havoc on everything and were just way too much hassle.  We held back two because they needed their hooves trimmed and we wanted to get the best price we could for them.

We meant to carry them off to the next sale along with a couple cows, but time just got by and here they still are.  One of them is a smallish doe and a couple weeks ago, I realized that she was going to have her first kid.  We’ve been fortunate so far that our goats have all kidded without help.  This time was different.

A Tale of Anxiety and Decisions

I’m not sure why, but this time the kid did not enter the birth canal in the usual “Superman position”- front feet, then head.  The head came first and the feet were nowhere to be seen.  We waited some time, watching and hoping a change of position or stronger contractions might help.  It was not going well and I was pretty sure they would both die if I did not intervene.

Joe was on a business trip, so the oldest two children and I worked with the mother for a while.  It was very stressful.  She didn’t want our help of course, and we would all rather have been getting ready for bed.  I have no veterinary training,  just book knowledge, and a lot of births of my own under my belt.

I won’t give too many details here since some of you may be eating breakfast while you read, but suffice it to say I gloved up and did my best lay person obstetrics.  Despite my best efforts, I was unable to manipulate the feet out.

Labor is an “uncomfortable” event anyway (to put it mildly) and our attempts to help her were making her pain worse.  It was hard on everyone and after 30 minutes we weren’t having success.

At this point, our son was extremely stressed and fatigued and our daughter was sobbing.  She couldn’t stand the thought of causing the animal more pain and wanted me to put her down.  I had been afraid I would have to do that but I really didn’t want to for a whole lot of reasons.  I didn’t relish taking care of that task myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to pawn that responsibility off on anyone else.  It was a bad situation.

We took a break, let the doe rest, and went inside for a minute to collect ourselves.  We had a talk about the situation.

This was hard stuff for a person of any age, but for a tender-hearted child, all the more.  The thing is, there are a lot of hard choices throughout our lives (even in these “best of times”) and many are unavoidable.  We could not in good conscience just walk away and leave her to suffer.

I encouraged our daughter to stay inside and let her brother and me give it another try on our own.  I hated to ask him to participate any longer, but it was just physically impossible for me to steady the doe and work on the kid.  He didn’t complain.  I asked our daughter to pray for us and check on the little ones that had been hastily put to bed.

Shortly though, she was back outside insisting she wanted to help.  I was still unable to put the baby all the way back in to reach the feet or to reach around the head to get the feet.  Throughout it all, both children were calm and did what they could to help.  Finally, I decided to call someone else close by that I thought may be able to help or at least assure me we had done all we could.

God is so good because it just so happened that my friend’s sister, who had spent years as a vet’s assistant, just happened to be visiting and they both hurried over.  Ten minutes later, our combined efforts saved both doe and kid!

What does this have to do with prepping?

Really, I see a whole lot of applications to prepping here.  To begin with, raising farm animals for a source of meat, eggs, etc is very practical to our way of thinking.  To do that sustainably, you will need to have breeding pairs at least.

Beyond that, there is the part about getting practical experience in things ranging from first aid to basic animal care to birth that comes in handy.

And then there is the importance of developing a community of neighbors who gladly pitch in to help in your time of need.  None of us can go it alone in all circumstances.

But really what I think may be most important is what I saw in my children that humbled me.  They stood steadfast when the hard things had to be done.  When I was their age, I can’t imagine doing what they did.

Here is what I am thinking about now.  Am I usually taking the easy way out, avoiding discomfort, letting others do the “heavy lifting”?  Am I stepping up to do the hard things or quietly stepping aside and hoping someone else will do it for me?

These are the things that show our character and have a great impact on how we will fare in adversity.  Sure, the economy stinks, unemployment is high, inflation is steadily rising, but things are still pretty easy right now.  Am I preparing myself well for the future?

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Update:  Here is a picture of mama and daughter.  We have them in an old “chicken tractor” that needs repairs after neighbor dogs tried to liberate the occupants.  Just one more thing these movable enclosures are good for…

mama goat and daughter

10 Comments on “A Time of Testing”

  1. Amanda B Says:

    I think you did a wonderful job & your children sound like amazing young people. You inspire me and this site has given me a lot of direction and clear goals. xox


  2. Laura Says:

    You are so kind! It’s very encouraging for us to hear that something we have shared has been helpful to someone. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  3. Laura Says:

    After the fact, I realized with a chuckle that the goat couldn’t have had a more sympathetic set of midwives. Two of us are “great with child” and the other is recently post-partum, so we winced with every contraction and cry of pain!


  4. northernhomesteader Says:

    Glad that it worked out for doe and baby and for all of you. That is never an easy situation nor are those easy decisions to make. Well done!


    • Laura Says:

      Thanks so much! She was a small doe and that was one big kid! I’ll try to post a picture of the two of them.

      One of our young ones thinks we should name the kid Chocolate Ice Cream. Given the white (marshmallow) belt and rough birth, I think Rocky Road might be more appropriate. I’ll tell you, by all accounts, the kid shouldn’t have made it. With all the pushing and pulling, cold night air, etc., I can’t believe it pulled through. I thought it may be brain damaged even, but it seems okay.

      I gave the mama a shot of penicillin the next day since it was so traumatic for her. It would be terrible to get her through the birth and then lose her to infection.


  5. Laura Says:

    The picture of mother and daughter is up now. Although the perspective is a little off with the baby standing closer to the camera, she is still quite a big one!

    We’ve only had “brush goats”- inexpensive cross-breeds we’ve used for clearing brushy land for us before we fence. Our main problem with them has been keeping them where we want them- the brush is always greener on the other side… and our porch seems like a good place to sleep and our growing fruit trees are the choicest morsels on the whole farm. 😦

    We are working on some stouter fencing and hope to get some Nubians (milk breed) this spring. With all we have going on, we probably will not breed them unless things fall apart. Twice a day milking is more than we can manage right now. We may, however, breed them to sell offspring as that can be lucrative.


    • Devon Says:

      Your going to milk goats?! You poor person! We have milked sheep before and it was an EXTREME pain in the ass. You need lots of equipment in order to make it practical.



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