A day I had looked forward to for five months came and went on Thursday. Our first goat babies were stillborn overnight, and I found them in the barn during the morning feeding. It’s the kind of thing that happens from time to time on a farm, but it’s not something that’s talked about all that frequently on homesteading and farming blogs. There’s nothing interesting or photogenic about baby animals that don’t make it. They were born early, probably about 10 days or so, and we never saw any sign their mother, a first-timer, was even in labor.
I spoke with the vet, gave the mama goat a thorough check, and had to move on with the rest of the business of the farm. We’ve lost baby goats before, a buckling with a respiratory infection and a doeling that got tangled with a larger doe. There’s something about losing a goat that’s so very different from losing a hen or a baby chick. Especially for us, they’re the most pet-like livestock we have. Everything else we raise has a more commercial purpose in mind, but the dairy goats produce only for our own larder. We have yet to even get milk from this herd. They keep the barn lively, greet all the visitors to the farm, and bellow daily for raisin treats. Their lives aren’t as separate from ours as the chickens’ seem to be.
On Thursday evening, I told John that it seemed like spring had finally made an appearance. Seven eggs laid, potting soil thawing out, sugaring pails going out, and the first baby goats of the season. I just wish I’d had more reason to celebrate.