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Posts from March2010

Filming a Goat Giving Birth & Appreciating the Beauty of Life

Posted by Leonard on March, 26, 2010

Every once in a while you experience something that makes you really appreciate the beauty of life. I try to produce media that brings that richness to the world with my videos as much as possible. Not just the beauty though, also the pain, truth, wonder, freakyness, and joy. Based on the feedback I get from people around the world on my YouTube channel, I’m doing a pretty good job. This video is no exception.

Earlier this week I had the blessing to be present and able to film my friend’s goat giving birth. I’ve been working on a longer documentary about them and their adventures raising farm animals in the middle of Seattle, and we were building toward this moment for months. A while back they’d taken their 2 female goats to a farm for “buck service”, where they leave them there for a few days with a horny male goat, and when they come back, they are supposed to be pregnant. So my friend’s kept a small rag with the male goat’s scent on it in a plastic zip lock bag to take out when they thought the girls were in heat. If they reacted a certain way, they were definitely in heat and it was time to head for the farm and get busy.

As time passed their bodies grew and they were clearly pregnant. The golden 145-155 days of gestation approached and I was on alert for a phone call that could come at any time, to race down to their place about 1.5 miles from my house to try and catch the moment on film. There were certain signs that were supposed to tip one off to entering into a 12 hour window when they could expect the birth; a stiff upright tail, a certain mucous that would appear, licking patterns, and adjustments in the shape of their bloated bellies. And one afternoon while I was filming some interviews about their emotions approaching the birth, what they’d learned from the vet, other goat owners, and online resources about what to expect, in the middle of talking my friend Catherine realizes that Fern was showing all of the signs that she was in the middle of talking about. And at that moment, we assumed we were within the 12 hour window. The only problem was, that despite months of waiting and planning, I was supposed to be leaving town the next morning and might be unable to be present to film. The hope was that it would happen in the middle of the night, with time to film and still get out on time.

The morning came and went and no goat babies. I left town disappointed with the assumption that I’d be gone for the big day. Half way through the week, Sukie, Fern’s sister gave birth to 3 “kids” and the fear and expectation was that Fern would also go into labor while I was gone. Well good old Fernie held out for me and waited til I was back in town. I got back 6 days later at 11 PM. That night Catherine called to say she thought she was on the verge and to expect the call. The next morning at 7, I got the call to come now. It was a rainy and gray and cold morning. By the time I got there, one kid had already been born. Moments later 2 more arrived.

I was so impressed and in awe of how beautifully and smoothly she and Justin handled the whole thing. While Fern did all the work, as soon as the babies emerged Justin and Catherine were right in there with the receiving, preliminary support and desliming. By watching this vid, you’d never know that the first goat had given birth at night when the farmers were asleep and that this was their first time ever doing this. They handled it like pros. An amazing morning, totally incredible and powerful in a way few things can be. Stay tuned for the longer piece coming soon. Enjoy. For more info about urban goat raising, check out the Goat Justice League.

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