I don't know exactly what triggered it, but Star gave birth Friday -- about 12 days too early. You may recall, I'd been treating her for cold-like symptoms and high fever. She had been doing much better and had rejoined the herd, but Friday she started acting spacy. When I left town to take Girl 1 to her dance competition, I asked John to check in on Star when he got home after work.
He did. And he found Zander and Star fighting. Zander was trying to get too close to the buckling Star had just birthed! John called me, and while we were talking Star gave birth to a second tiny one -- a doeling. The babies were listless and not doing well. Over the phone, John and I made treatment plans, and he carried them out. Then, he called on our amazing friend and small ruminant expert, Robert Dean. He immediately came over and spent hours helping John get the babies warmed up and bottle-fed. Without his help, we probably would have lost both babies that night.
So, Girl 1 and I were at the dance competition and Girl 2 was spending the night at a friend's house, meaning John and the Boy were the only ones home to deal with this crisis. Once the babies had made it through the night, we figured they were ready to be named and that the two taking care of them got naming privileges. The Boy didn't miss a beat when asked, and so "Fred" it was. A girls' name was a little more difficult to settle on, but they eventually got around to "Foxy." They were tiny, but adorable -- with beautiful markings that looked far more like their dad than their mom.
Girl 1 and I were able to FaceTime with Star and the babies, but it was rough being so far away during this time. Saturday evening, we made it home and were so happy to see the little ones all curled up next to the heating vent in the trailer.
Unfortunately, at the middle-of-the-night feeding that night, we found Foxy in distress. She was clearly having a hard time breathing and very cold. We warmed her up with a hot bath and blow dry, but her breathing just got more and more labored and "wet." It seems that her lungs, one of the last things to develop in utero, just weren't fully operational. We pet and comforted her as she took her final breaths.
Fred and Star are both missing her. Fred, who can't stand on his own yet, can scoot. And, he would always scoot so that he was lying on top of his sister. When she was first gone, he would just scoot and scoot.
Star, who was pleased to see her baby boy again when we took him down to the barn with us during milking time, was pretty confused at first. She greeted Fred and sniffed around him for a minute and then began walking around the barn and calling out for Foxy.
We've continued to cart Fred to the barn during milking time. We leave him by the heater and allow Star to spend some time with him before and after milking. Today, after they conversed a little, he fell asleep, and she just rested her head on him, as seen above. She stood like that for a long time.
While this is the first time we've dealt with a goat preemie, we understand from our reading that it's pretty common for Momma to disassociate since she's not around her babies or feeding them. But, Star is still quite motherly when we get the two of them together, nuzzling and talking to her sweet little boy. We're keeping our fingers crossed that if we can get him strong enough, she will mother him when he's ready to return to the field.
It's hard to say whether or not Fred is entirely out of the woods. He is still just a bag of bones, weighing in today at 4 pounds. He has great neck control and can stay sitting up when we arrange him right. He loves to kick his legs around when he's lying on his side, but he's still a ways from being able to stand or walk on his own. This may seem like too much information, but he is pooping, peeing, and eating relatively well, so those all seem like good signs.
We are milking Star a few times a day in an effort to get her milk supply up, but she's not very interested in eating, so she's not producing much right now. Luckily, I've got quite a bit of Nutmeg's milk frozen in milk cubes for use in soap making. I've been using it to supplement Fred's feedings.
Star is a first freshener, which means it is her first time to give birth and be milked. While she's not yet producing much milk, we have been pleased with how things are going so far. It turns out that she has great anatomy with good placement, and she's very well-behaved on the milk stand.
Of course, this week we expect two other Mommas to kid (at full term), so stay tuned!