Ever consider spying on goats? What is it they do at night in the barns behind closed doors? And is there a way, we recently pondered, to eliminate worrying and hourly visits in the dark of the night to check if any of our three does are in labor? We wondered too about those committed co-op members who have yet to see the miracle of birth? Could we find a more timely way to notify them of impending births?
High Tech to the rescue! Thanks to the superhero expertise of Aaron Pinsker (Colorado Computer Care), who successfully infiltrated and resolved our old barn’s wireless capabilities, we finally got our not-so-easy to install as promised infrared webcams up in both maternity barns, thus allowing us to spy 24/7, both on internet and smartphone, on our beloved goats. And, we set up a system for members to text into, to receive realtime text messages back as our goats go into active labor.
All over Boulder County now, co-op members’ eyes are glued to their computers and phones numerous times each day and night, watching such exciting pre-birth goat activities such as eating (for 45 minutes straight), posing for the webcams (seriously), standing facing a corner for over an hour (that’s labor, right?), jumping from ledge to ledge (ok, that’s the non-pregnant goats), anxiously anticipating the cries of active labor.
We now know who is the best sleeper (Thistle), who slurped the camera lens to taste those enticing blinking red infrared dots (Shira), and who does the best impression of false-labor (Clover). Alfalfa (our milking queen) & Black Diamond (who might be having triplets) hang out in a separate maternity barn, oblivious to that annoyingly noisy hen next door.
“Can’t goats give birth by themselves?” you may be wondering. Mostly they can. Generally the baby’s nose and front legs push out together in a birthing sac, and everything goes well. The moms know just what to do. But sometimes, one of those legs may be out of position and the baby can get stuck. Some of the newborns also need a bit of help figuring out where to find their moms’ udders, and if it’s cold out, a baby might start to shiver and need some toweling to dry and warm up.
We currently have just a few open shifts available if you’d like to try your hand at milking and then enjoying fresh organic milk & cheese-making in exchange for caring for our loving goats (members pay dues). Last summer we averaged a gallon and a half per morning or evening shift.
And be sure to pop over to the farm in the next few weeks to meet our new kids, whose births we will be joyfully announcing soon!
Thanks as always to our supporters: Limmud, Hazon, and Vitamin Cottage (which gives us their vegetable & fruit scraps for all our farm animals.)