In anticipation of the birth of baby goats here on the ranch, correctly termed as kidding for you accuracy junkies, I'll share with you the complicated art of determining if a goat is "with kid".
I have great respect for vets. The kind that fix animals as well as the military. However, lest there be any confusion, I'm referring to the animal kind. So having great respect, it never ceases to amaze me that vets can fix damned near anything wrong with a critter. In most cases it doesn't take innumerable tests or specialists which says a lot about veterinary medicine as well as human medicine, doesn't it?
I have a great relationship with one of my local vets. Not so much with the other one cuz he seems to have no sense of humor and looks at me like I'm stupid when I ask him a question that I genuinely want an answer to. He's better than the former vet who kicked one of my cows in the head and mysteriously left the vet office a couple weeks later, but still, he's not my fav.
Anyway, said not-so-fav-vet came out the other day to see if the little black cowses were pregnant. For inquiring minds, 2 out of 3 are. While here I asked him how to see if a goat is pregnant. He looked at me like that was the dumbest question he'd heard all week.
Not so brief backstory: I'm on a goat list. Yes, there are people who actually sign up on an email list that talks about goats. Why the hell not, I say. So the very same topic came up on the goat list a while back and the responses were slightly less than scientific. It would seem there are two options: bumping, also known in some circles as bouncing, and the squooshy tail method. Why can't you just do a pelvic? I asked the vet that very thing resulting in the "what are you stupid?" look.
So, bumping. Bumping is a seriously hands on practice which consists of standing behind and straddling the goat in question, grabbing her around the middle and thumping her behind her rumen. Rumen = big fat stomach. Supposedly, if something hard is felt while basically punching your goat in the stomach, the goat is pregnant. Warning: goats don't particularly like this procedure and may kick the crap out of you when you attempt it.
The second method, and by far my favorite for comic relief, is the squooshy tail method. This is even less scientific, if that's possible. It's said that a goat is firm under the tail. Okay, tail: hairy on top, no hair beneath and not something one would be fondling under normal circumstances which makes this method a bit more complicated. So, in order to determine if said goat is pregnant, one is to grab hold of the tail and feel the underside for "squooshiness". Yeah, that'll happen. If you've never attempted to grab a goat's tail and smoosh it while trying to ascertain if it's squooshy, I'd recommend you pass. It's not one of those procedures that goats stand idly by while you, um, proceed. Baahing, head flinging and kicking seem to be the standard reaction. That and running away while goat tender tries desperately to keep tail in hand. Great for comic video, not terribly useful as a means of determining pregancy. What ever happened to the rabbits?
Back to our regularly scheduled program. Vet checked cows, looked at me like I'm an idiot and mounted Daisy the goat. She didn't seem to enjoy this; you could tell by the head flinging and squalling that insued. Vet was not deterred and proceeded to bump, bump, bump on her side, finally announcing that he believed her to be pregnant. I also believed her to be, without the thumping, due to her intimate relationship with formerly discussed buckling. On to goat number 2, Anya. Anya isn't really thrilled with anyone touching her but me so this process went even less quickly than that with Daisy. However, having not seen horny buckling having carnal knowledge of her, I wasn't confident that she was in the family way. Again with the bumping and vet concludes that she too is pregnant. I'm pleased but really would prefer confirmation through a somewhat more rational means.
So now we're hanging around the frigid ranch awaiting the birth of kids and hoping to hell they wait until the temperature is on the positive side of the thermometer. Keep your fingers crossed and stay away from those squooshy tails.
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