It's 4:30 in the morning, who wakes up at 4:30? When you just get that sense, its time to go check the does, Misty lost her mucus plug last night, so you better go check. Again. The first call of the does, the call unheard, to go check on them. The call of instinct, instinct of a kidding season veteran.
You haul yourself upright, wander around in the house in the dark so as night to wake your sleeping partner. Even the herding dogs don't stir, ungrateful wretches. Grab your barn fleece and on second thought a second coat over that. You haven't felt the outside air on your face yet and you still know the morning is cold. Not blowing ice storm cold, but surely not the warm 60° of yesterday afternoon. Did I mention, it's February. Who ordered this weather anyway.
Out to the barn you go, met in the barn yard by the quadrant of quacking ducks, who don't mind cold, dark mornings. They follow you into the barn, hoping for a handout, and over their talking you hear the constant ringing in tiny brass bells. As if the does are up and moving a lot this morning. You head first to the main pen, the source of the ringing bells and see two yearling does having a good round of head butting. Sisters, Dotty and Denali. Last years twins.
Thick as thieves on any normal day, sparring before daylight, both starting to show their own kids on the way. Why are they awake? These does are always still in bed at milking time. You slip into the kidding pens, and see Misty up and awake watching for you. She calls to you as you come into the pens, as if to say "Where have you been?". The calling of a doe for a human friend. On looking over the gate where she and her coming yearling daughter, Star, have spent the night, they turn and walk away from you. You see that one sure sign that a kid is on the way. The bubble of the sack containing the kid. Action time.
Going with what you think you know, you think, "She won't want Star in here.". And so you put Star back out with the does and come back to Misty calling, soft and mournful. She wants her daughter back. The calling of a doe for her daughter.
You go back to get Star. Misty refuses to push if she has to do this alone. She has always loved company. A doe who has lived her whole life surrounded by family. Dam raised. Sold to us alongside of her first cousin. Gone to the breeding pen with her cousin, the two inseparable even for buck visits, even when both weren't to be bred. Reunited with Dam and another Aunt after 2 years and side by side with her daughter for the last 10 months. Star stays with her Dam, through the contractions, through the first kid, through the second.
Misty's labor is near text book, but not quite. She pushes once, twice, then paces. You let this go on for 20 minutes not sure when labor started, but the kid is not in distress. You head back to the house, trim your nails, all the while knowing you should have done this already. Grab some extra towels and another pair of pants, over the top. Snow pants for warmth. Back you go, all in under 5 minutes. You grab a tie chain and a bale of straw to keep her from turning away from you, and you check to see where the hold up is with this kid. Two feet. A nose. What's holding it back? She give a good push and you grab two feet. Only one comes easy. Do both feet belong to the same kid? You pull the kids head with gentle, gentle pressure, and both feet move forward. Yeah, it seems to all belong together. You give the second food another gentle tug with one of Misty's contractions and POP! the shoulder comes free and here comes a good sized blond kid into the world. Its a buck!
A little disappointed because you really want a doe kid from this doe, you bump her, lifting her belly a little to see if anyone is still in there. There is. so you sit on the straw bale, and you wait. It won't be long. she tends to her first kid, drying and cleaning him, you assist with some towels, wiping down the majority of the muck. This all goes on for a few minutes, maybe ten. Calling softly to her newborn son, the calling of a doe offering encouragement, love and comfort. All the while, Star watches from the back of the pen, wondering what all of this means, coming over once to sniff her new brother, never once chased away by Misty. Then Misty gets back to work, a few good strong pushes and a text book delivery, nose and toes, of a dark buckling. Dark, because he's wet. Is he Black, or Ebony? You will know when he dries. He looks black, with a tinge of red. Not the kidding you had hoped for. Another Doeling from Misty would have been grand. Now the wait begins to see if perhaps Misty's dam, Clone, will grace you with a daughter 8 days from now.
Star's future here is secure for another year, as you anxiously wait to see how another daughter of this line will perform. Star will kid in May, a long wait from today.
Welcome to the world boys.