Hello friends of Stepladder Ranch and Creamery and welcome to Spring!
As many of you know, especially if you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, the Springtime goat birthing (kidding) season on the ranch is one of the most vital, essential and exciting times of the year.
The ranch becomes alive with activity, as each of our more than 60 strong herd of milking does are set to deliver in a short 6-week window between February 22 and April 7 each year.
In this video we are out in the field with Michelle, co-owner of Stepladder Creamery and goat handler extraordinaire, as she gives us a brief snapshot of what the team is expecting in our upcoming goat birthing season!
This is a very important and necessary yearly ritual, as without this annual influx of adorable goat kids, our does would not produce the delicious milk that we use to craft our delectable fresh goat’s milk cheeses.
As co-owner of Stepladder Creamery, Michelle, explains in this video taken in the field prior to the start of our hectic birthing season; “it is a crazy 47 days, but it’s the most magical time of the year….”!
Over these bustling few weeks, our amazing staff of goat handlers share the workload and responsibilities in intricate coordination of shift and task management.
As Michelle explains “because these animals are our best friends... we want to make sure that we are there for every single birth.”
This means that every hour of each of these 47 days and nights is intricately scheduled to make sure that there is always someone on duty to make sure that no doe delivers without the assistance of a human midwife.
The daytime hours are filled with the milking, feeding, watering, pen cleaning, and midwifing duties that are necessary to keep our herd healthy, while the nighttime hours consist of our hard-working staff awakening every hour to check the overhead camera in our birthing barn to check for signs of labor.
In the case of active labor, the staff gets “the glorious task of running out in the middle of the night, rain or shine, and ensuring that all births happen smoothly and go great.”
While goats are very resilient and intuitive animals that tend to have relatively smooth and predictable deliveries, every year there are bound to be a few deliveries that need the assistance of a human to step in and ensure the safety and well-being of both mom and baby.
While a smooth delivery depends on each kid presenting with both front feet and head first, there are the occasional challenging deliveries where a kid might present with only one or sometimes neither leg forward, its head turned to the side, rear-end first (breach) or may even be vying for position with its sibling to be the first out of the birth canal!
In each of these cases, our wonderful and highly trained staff (usually Michelle or herd-manager Sophie) will lend extra assistance and actually reach into the birth canal to set things straight and help the mamma deliver her kid or kids.
The quicker we can respond to these situations, the more chance we have of helping both mamma and baby, which is the reasoning behind our intensive round-the-clock scheduling through the birthing season.
Thankfully, due to the overall health of the herd, the genetic resilience of goats, and the spectacular ministrations of our dedicated goat caretakers, we have been fortunate enough to have enormous success helping our beloved does deliver their adorable kids!
In the 2020 kidding season, we had 122 goat kids born on the ranch - how many should we expect this year?!
Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on the progress of our does, kids, staff, and of course the crafting of our delectable goat cheeses!