Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farm Memories: Drunk and Giving Birth

The leaves are falling, the sun is setting sooner, the cold is settling in blankets of morning fog here in the Frozen North. The long winter nights give rise to memories of days gone by...

waiting for daylight

It was almost midnight and I was in the barn alone with my first goat about to give birth. Uh, let me make that perfectly clear. The goat was giving birth, not me.

I was well acquainted with the process firsthand from a human standpoint, having borne three children of my own "naturally". One would think that after the first time I would have insisted on heavy duty drugs and lots of them, but no-o-o-o, this was the seventies, gosh darn it, and the natural way was better for my babies. Thank you for where was I? Oh yes, the goat, not me, was about to give birth.

It was both thrilling and humbling that this particular goat, the herd queen, seemed to desire my presence. She was still hours from the event, but experiencing some discomfort and that wisdom of what is to come that animals are gifted with, when I heard a loud rustling sound out in the pasture.

Was it a pack of coyotes waiting to devour the helpless animal babies about to be born? I scanned the stall for something to use as a weapon to defend both doe and kid, but the ever present manure shovel was nowhere to be found. As my eyes stared into the blackness I began to see a human form. A male human form. My concern for the goat's safety shifted to concern for my own. (Where WAS that manure shovel?)

About twenty feet away from the maternity stall, a confused individual appeared from the middle of the fenced pasture, weaving toward the fenceline. He saw me in the light of the barn and asked, "Is this thing on?" (refering to the electric fence which at that moment just happened to be turned off.) I found myself wishing I could say, "Yes it is, and if you touch it both you and your unborn children and grandchildren will feel it." But all I managed was a startled "No", and watched him struggle through the wires and stumble on his way toward the road.

I drew a deep breath and turned my attention back to the mom to be. Marie bore twin kids that night without complication, and I became a genuine goat midwife.


But 17 years later, the question still remains. Where did our inebriated visitor come from? And where was he going? Behind the pasture was acres of woods, beyond the fence was a lonely country road.

I suppose that is just one of the "perks" of living in the country. One never knows who is going to stop by.

Another is horses running wild on the road, but that's a story for another day.