It started out as a typical Goat Cheese Making Class. Just four friendly students here for a Saturday morning of milking, cheesemaking and eating. It went smoothly until my six-year-old blasted through the kitchen door with the newsflash:
“WE’RE HAVING BABIES!!!”
Well, fine timing, Dottie. We’re right in the middle of stretching the mozzarella. Could ya have waited a few minutes longer? I mean, I’m dressed in good clothes!
No, what I really thought was: Thank GOODNESS! No more sleepness nights of listening to goat moaning* through the baby monitor hooked up in the barn. No more thinking, maybe she just swallowed a barrel, sideways, and isn’t actually pregnant. No more honing our skills at predicting when she’d go, and realizing we really don’t have any skills, because for the last month and a half we’ve been wrong.
*Moaning: That’s what this pregnant goat did ALL NIGHT LONG. For weeks. Moan. Loud moans. Softer moans. Long painful moans. Short moans. The Animal Whisperer repeatedly tried to convince me that we had actually crossed signals with some hot romance going on in the neighbor’s houses. OK, I could have done without that mental image, thanks.
So, after taking a quick consensus of the group, it was decided that we would put the cheese making on hold in order to take a birthing field trip.
Here’s what we saw when we got there. That little white thing inside the bubble is a hoof! That’s what you want to see first. Hooves! Front hooves. They should come out first, situated under the baby’s chin like it’s diving headlong out of the confines of its mother.
And, that’s the position poor Dottie takes when kidding. Head twisted around like a contortionist. By the way, this was the first time I’ve ever helped deliver a baby! Human or otherwise. I’ve seen births. I’ve just never pulled one out. Until now. The first kid was big and seemed to be slow coming out (as compared with the only other two goats I’ve ever seen get born, quite a lot of history, I know), so instinct took over and I dove into the birthing fluids to pull him out. It was a weird, awesome feeling to get a strong enough grip on the slimy baby and feel the membranes of the birthing sack clicking, popping and tearing as I pulled him out.
Then, there he was. A pile of slime wrapped around a helpless little goat. A boy. I cleaned out his mouth quick and put him up by his mama’s face so she could clean him off.
Later, I held the babies while the Animal Whisperer cut their umbilical cords and tied them off with my long-lost mint dental floss. Floss works for more than just teeth. Did you know?
Not a bad addition to the Goat Cheese Making Class…huh? In the words of my sister…I Want To Do This ALL The Days! Only she said that after getting laughing gas at the dentist’s office when she was around five. Some phrases just live on.
And, here are the lucky students! After seeing Dottie deliver her 3 babies, 2 girls and 1 boy, we finally headed back up to the house to finish the mozzarella and fill our growling stomachs. Marylin, Amanda, Lydia and Wende. Wende (right) had brought her granddaughter, Lydia, who she home schools, to the class for her “Field trip.” What a trip it turned out to be!
– The Goat Cheese Lady