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Not a calm and cool experience with Hillary

May 04, 2009

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Goats give birth after 140 days, the farm journals say. Goats seldom have any trouble with delivery, the farm journals say. A goat will give you several hours' notice before she has kids, the farm journals say.

That settles it. Next time, I want a goat that's read the farm journals.

Our Toggenburg named Hillary clearly hasn't, but then she's never been much of a goat for following rules, so why break old habits? By the way, if anyone out there has an impending goat/birth situation, my experience is that dogs do not help. I'm just saying, is all.

Hillary was late on her due date, but when she finally got around to it, everything sort of happened all at once. It's not supposed to be that way. There are supposed to be five or six hours worth of "warning signs," including some discharge, gentle murmuring, a quest for solitude, loss of appetite, pawing at the ground, nesting in the bedding and such.


These finer points of birth scheduling were lost on our animal. There was no "Super Bowl Preview Show" in her. I was casually throwing some hay in the late afternoon and couldn't help but notice the girl on the floor, panting, bleating and clearly agitated about something. Then my gaze swept aft and I saw a very tiny hoof in a spot where a hoof has no business being.

If I were any kind of man at all, I just would have passed out then and there and been done with it. As it was, I was endowed with just enough staying power to do the one thing men have the superior ability to do in times of crisis: I ran to get my wife.

I burst into our offices primed to disgorge the news.

Beth was on the phone.

I must have looked like some cartoon character who can't get the words out in the face of calamity, gesturing wildly and spouting out multiple verbal derivatives of the word "ock."

So here's Beth, calmly on the phone, "Yes, we have a shipment of 'Dressage in Harmony' coming from England, but it will probably take a few weeks for it to clear customs, you know how it is with heightened security these ..." and here's me pointing frantically at the barn and saying "kkkkHHHH PPPTTT.

Like talking to the deaf, I exaggerated my lip movement and silently said "goooat."

She nodded and kept up the conversation.

I tried again with the read-my-lips approach. "Ahnoo. Eeyou Dooon't Oonderstaand. GOOOT. NAAOOW."

When we arrived back at the barn, we now saw two hooves. And what appeared to be a nose, all sheathed in ick. I rather casually mentioned "discharge" earlier in the column, but let me tell you something, it -- no, never mind, I really don't feel like reliving it.

The problem was that our newborn was a big boy and his head was, well, think Mr. Met. We were calling our mentor Tracy on and off, and Beth came running back and said, "You're going to have to pull when she contracts; I'm going to go call (our farm neighbors) Walter and Tina."

Weakly, I said, "Pull? Pull what?" Pull -- that? Um. When she contracts what? Really, I don't mind going to make the call."

But by that time Beth had hurried off. I looked at Hillary. Hillary looked at me. I don't think the present circumstance would have been a first-choice situation for either of us. "Yeah Hillary," I said as I put on the surgical gloves, "I didn't think it would ever come to this either, but here we are."

When Beth returned, I had a head out and Beth thankfully did the rest. Which was a good thing, because by then I was shaking so bad I couldn't have delivered a pizza.

The good news is that we have a healthy new addition, Nicholas, to the farm and that I have slightly calmed down. The bad news is that we have another pregnant doe, who is due any minute.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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