12:45 a.m. I was sitting inside cuddling Bisou, with the baby monitor next to me, and at 11:30 heard an atypical sound. Not loud, not urgent, just atypical. Popped Bisou in her crate, rushed to the barn, and there was Blossom, lying down, with a baby half out of her.
I slid a paper feed bag under the baby, who was literally swimming in, you know, birth goo, and moved her around to Blossom\’s face, so they could meet.
Blossom instantly went into high gear, licking this weird little thing–I\’m not sure she knew quite what it was, but she knew what she was supposed to do—and talking, talking, talking. And the baby, the minute I wiped its face off, started talking, talking, talking back in this incredibly high-pitched little voice. As soon as it was somewhat dry, I picked it up and checked the important bits—a doe! A lovely reddish brown like her mother, with a white spot on top of her head and more white on her belly, her long ears still folded longitudinally as a space-saving measure.
Next thing I know, Blossom lies down again, gives the slightest grunt, and out slides little sister. Twin does! I take this as a sign of favor from the universe. Little sister is really little, also brown with white spots, also gooey and in dire need of cleanup. Poor Blossom, now she\’s got two talking babies, one in front, one in back, and she goes from one to the other, urgently licking, licking, and talking, talking.
Now I have a couple of jobs to do: dip the cords and navels in iodine, and see that the babies get colostrum WITHIN 60 MINUTES OF BIRTH. This is very important, and heaven help me if I don\’t get it right.
The iodine dip goes pretty well, except for dark brown spots all over my clothes. Getting the babies to nurse is another story. It is a wonder to me that the species manages to survive at all. Here are two wobbly babies, crying and muttering and falling over, and a mother who is obsessed with cleanliness and has no idea what that object that has been growing ever larger between her hind legs is for.
The clock is ticking, and I\’ll have to help. I pick up the first baby, who screams bloody murder, and gently steer her towards the udder. She has no idea what the object between her mother\’s hind legs is for either, but she knows she\’s supposed to be looking for something. I hold a teat in one hand and move the baby towards it, but she shrieks, and Blossom quickly turns around to see what is wrong, thus moving the udder completely out of reach.
This goes on for quite some time. Finally I give up (temporarily) on baby #1 and pick up little sister, who has the sense to keep quiet and, miracle of miracles, latches on right away and takes a few drops of colostrum. Weak with relief, I try again with baby #1, who again shrieks and refuses to latch on. Meanwhile Blossom is intent on making sure her daughters are spotless. Who cares about food when there\’s a mess to be cleaned up?
I go to the kitchen and fill a small bucket with warm water and pour molasses into it—the post-partum pick-me-up par excellence. While Blossom imbibes this, my husband puts down the camera and sneaks baby #1 to the udder, and she too has a little drink. Whew!
We carry away the wet towels, the iodine, the just-in-case jar of vaseline. We make sure that each little doe has a second drink, and then we leave the herd in peace.
A word about sizes. I am not a tall person, but Blossom doesn\’t even come up to my knees. We did not have the presence of mind to weigh the babies at birth, but on average Nigerian Dwarf kids weigh two pounds. Baby #1 may weigh that much, but little sister feels about as heavy as a silk scarf.
I\’ll be looking for names for these two—send suggestions!