Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Goat Lover's Story: A Man and his Quints

Just when you think YOUR Life has been filled with way too much activity- read the heartwarming story of the men with their baby goats-

LOTS of them

The Quintuplets

Three Boer does and 13 newborn kids between them, all bleating at once, “Help us, we’re cold, wet and hungry, Fix it please, Right now“!

Hey, I did not sign up for this !!

I have a long and varied employment history. Stoop laborer in the California fruit fields, cutting Grapes, picking Oranges, and knocking Almonds from the orchards under the hot summer skies.
I have worked in sawmills and as a logger in the cool timber country of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I have traveled the world, Europe, Japan, Korea, Okinawa and Viet Nam as a member of the United States Army. Infantryman, Communications Sergeant, Radar operator in the Air Defense Command in Seattle, Washington, Combat Medic in the Army, Licensed Practical Nurse, both in the Military and as a Civilian. A Registered Nurse, traveling through out the United States. None of these jobs prepared me for the situation in which I now find myself.
I had settled in Florida after retiring from the Army after 23 years; I had met and married a Nurse while working there, and when she became ill after 12 years of marriage, I retired from my Nursing career to take care of my ailing wife. When she passed away three years later, I deeded our Florida property to her children from a former marriage and fled back to California to the refuge of family and friends and, perhaps, memories of happier times.

So at 74 years of age, I accepted a position as caretaker of a 120-acre ranch in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The new owner had just purchased the property and was going to commute from his home in Central California while getting the Ranch started. After I had worked for him for several months, he told me that he was thinking of getting into the meat goat business and asked if I would like to help him get the Dutch Creek Goat Ranch off the ground.

We both figured that, at the most, it would take only half hour to 45 minutes, twice a day, to feed and care for the goats, as they would return, on their own, twice a day to the feeding stations. We also had two huge Animal Guard Dogs, Bear and Snow; these Great Pyrenees dogs lived with the goats 24 hours a day and protected them from any predators. Therefore, we figured that it would be a quite doable situation. Any extensive problems, such as shots and hoof trimming we could do when he came up from Palo Alto on his periodic visits to fence the property and construct out buildings.

On the morning of February third at 2:00 AM a series of events started that put the lie to all of our well-laid plans.

One of our pregnant does , unbeknownst to me, had decided that the space under the house, right beneath my bed would be a warm and safe place to birth her kids. The thumping, moaning, and the bleating of newborn kids from under my bedroom floor let me know that there would be no rest for me until I had transferred the new mama and kids to the birthing shed about 300 feet away. It was a typical February night here in the Sierra‘s, the temperature was in the 30’s, clear and cold.

Putting on warm clothes, grabbing some old towels to dry the kids off, I crawled under the house where the mama had secreted herself to birth her kids in safety and comparative warmth. I found the mother licking two newborn kids dry. I picked up the kids and crawled backwards from under the house, mama following me and nipping at my hair, trying to keep me from kidnapping her babies. She followed me anxiously to the birthing shed, and then followed me as I placed the kids in a warm stall and then she happily started eating the alfalfa and grain I had placed in the stall for her. After getting mama and babies all settled and making sure the kids knew where the snack bar was, I returned to bed.

Later on that morning, 3 hours later to be exact, I arose from my warm bed to feed the other 59 goats. As I walked down to the feeding area, I found another mama cleaning up a newborn baby, wait, a set of twins, no, triplets, four…, oh my goodness, quintuplets…I could see that moving her to the birthing shed was going to take some time so I congratulated the new mama, admired her kids and continued to the feed troughs and fed her cousins and sisters. I then went back to the house and enlisted the aid of my brother to get the mom and babies to the warmth of the birthing shed. The mom and kids settled in well, so as soon as I was sure they were all comfortable I left to continue my feeding chores.

As I approached the feeding area again, I saw a baby kid nursing from it’s mother as she was eating at the hay station. At first I thought that the young kid had escaped from the enclosed area where we place the newborn kids and mothers prior to releasing them into the main herd. Then I realized that this was a really newborn so I started checking out the area, as twins are the norm in our flock. I saw some movement near a large stump about 300 feet from the feeding area and went down to get the other twin and found instead the four brothers and sisters of the waif at the hay feeder. I again enlisted the aid of my brother and we began the process of getting the mama and her quintuplets to her quarters in the nearest birthing shed. I do not know what the odds are of goats having quintuplets, but I imagine the odds of having two sets in one night are astronomical.

Later that morning we found a very cold and confused kid near the back of our house looking for his mama. Evidently he had wandered off prior to me moving his mom and sister’s to the birthing shed. When I settled him down with the rest of his family for a warm meal and a comfortable bed, I am sure I saw him give a great sigh of relief.

After notifying the boss of his good fortune, I went online and started asking advice from the internet goat raising community…”How do I keep these quintuplets happy with mama’s who are only equipped with appliances for two kids. The information I received was not calculated to calm my jangled nerves.

So much for “30 to 45 minutes a day taking care of the goats“!

Any body out there up to bottle-feeding 10 baby goats five to six times daily, around the clock???
Terry and Bruce can be reached at
Update on the babies - a Bucket feeder helps to "bottle feed" all these kids
the kids, as you may notice are color coded.

It has been quite an experience for this old soldier. We have extended the night feeding to 6:00PM to 8:00 the next morning. The kids don't seem to be any the worse for wear with the long night break,