Starting in mid-February, you can feel the sense of anticipation grow around Fat Toad Farm as we begin to prepare for kidding season. This year, we expected our first kids to be born at the end of February. Then, during the first week of March, 30 of our 45 does are due. That means maybe 4 or so a day will give birth, or maybe 10 in one day and none on several other days. Either way, it’s a lot and it means there’s a lot to do.
Therefore, we try to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. On the top of the big freezer in the milking parlor, we have assembled all the “tools of the trade”. These include:
1) a large collection of older towels to help dry off the babies (especially useful if it’s cold or if the mother lacks enthusiasm),
2) a sharp pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord to about 2 inches (sometimes this has already naturally happened, sometimes not),
3) a plastic vial full of iodine to dip the umbilical cord in to prevent infections,
4) a scale to weigh the kids – this is a fun little contraption that has a sling that the kid hangs comfortably and safely. The sling is hooked onto a hand held scale. Kids range is weight from around 6# all the way up to 11# or 12#. Does often have twins, so nice moderate weight kids are best so that the birthing process is easier.
5) Black strap molasses – after the kids are cleaned up and the mom’s teats have been “cleared” (i.e. squeezed to make sure the milk will run freely), we give her a bucket of warm water with blackstrap molasses mixed. Usually, the mom will suck it down in about 2 minutes.
See Part Two for more Preparations.