Earlier this year, TrustedHousesitters members Nate and Sarah — also known as @adventuresincrittersitting — retell one of their most memorable sits which saw them make numerous new farmyard friends and assist with the safe welcome to some very unexpected new arrivals...
Long term pet sitters Sarah and Nate signed up to look after a menagerie of different animals, including chickens, goats and pigs. They loved meeting so many new critters to care for.
“After announcing to everyone in the farmyard that it’s dinner time we head down the hill to give Marla the pig her nightly compost goodies. In tow is the usual crowd of a dozen chickens, a handful of goats (a few grown and one pair of week old littles), and a pair of friendly sheep. Marla tucks in, casually ignoring the dozen or so hens already comb deep in her dinner, and we head up toward the goat shed.”
As they made their way up to visit Sailor, the white goat they knew they’d be sitting for, they were taken by surprise when she had company...
“We froze, squinting hard. Sailor, a white goat with supreme snuggling skills, has company. “No way”, I say. We both take off toward the shed. The owners of the farm had told us she was pregnant. But they had assumed she had at least two more weeks until she’d kid, long after our stay would have ended. Yet here she was, lazily chewing her cud in the grass, two brand new fuzzballs curled up casually beside her. Our calculations clocked them at less than an hour old.“
After getting over the shock of seeing Sailor’s kids, Sarah felt guilty that she hadn’t been there to assist her through the birth, but quickly snapped into action and got Sailor and her babies comfortable and settled...
“After getting over my guilt of not being there for Sailor in her time of need, administering the proper vitamins, dipping the umbilical cords in iodine, and making sure the kids are both nursing; I relocate the new family into a clean and comfy pen of their own — which actually required giving another mama and her pair of one week old kids the boot... A few hours later, exhausted from the days surprise birth, Nate and I fall asleep within moments of our heads hitting the pillow.“
Little did she know that the two newborns she’d just safely transferred weren’t the last of the new additions to the farmyard. However, this time she’d be on hand and able to support the mother-to-be in question...
“At 2am I awoke to the sounds of a very concerned goat. Thinking of the new mom and kids, I peel myself out of bed, slide boots on over my sweatpants, and grab a flashlight. The scene in the barnyard is almost comical. Birdie, a stubborn but lovable black goat, is in the shed bleating loud enough for the entire valley to hear while an entire entourage of animals stands just beyond the shed door, looking like their favorite teen drama has just started on Netflix. They kindly let me through so I can assess the situation.”
Unfortunately, despite her experience with goats, Sarah wasn’t confronted with the easiest of births to assist.
"A large liquid-filled bubble bulges out of Birdie. Exactly from which orifice I am unsure. I’ve spent A LOT of time around goats, and I’ve done some research on kidding, but a liquid sack wasn’t ringing any bells. And besides, Birdie wasn’t pregnant. Lucky for me, I am notoriously good in a moment of crisis…”
However, as it turned out, Birdie was more definitely pregnant, so prepped with her knowledge from past farm sits and basic knowledge of kidding, Sarah stepped in...
“The liquid sack grew, and I could definitely a hoof inside of it! I’ve done the research for past farm sits and, though never actually having assisted in kidding, feel confident in at least the basics. Let’s do this, Birdie! After a good amount of pushing she loses steam and I decide it’s time to step in. On her next push, I take hold of the tiny leg (still inside the sack of liquid) and give it a gentle downward tug. Out sloshes the whole package, plopping onto the ground, complete with tiny goat floating inside. Seeing the kid twitch in an effort to take its first breaths, I pop the amniotic membrane (significantly more difficult than one might think!) and help mom with the drying process. At this point, Nate has made it out and is helpfully shining more light on the area and working as crowd control as the entire population of the farm pushes in for a better view of the scene.”
With the birthing complete, there were still a few additional procedures to be completed to ensure a safe start to life for the newborn, and mum Birdie, of course...
“I clear goo from the tiny nose and fish my finger though the tiny mouth while mom cleans her up and chews the umbilical cord (a crunching sound I will never forget). The world’s tiniest coughs and then she’s up and hobbling. I guide her to the udder, making sure she gets that dose of colostrum, and then begin the process of setting up things that mom will need post-birth.”
Once Birdie and her baby were settled, safe and sound, Nate and Sarah could relax and enjoy their sit - albeit different to what they expected when securing it!
“We spent the next four days watching for mastitis, laughing at all five baby goats, snuggling and singing them songs, and watching sunsets with them. Two surprise births within the same 8 hours - the best surprise party ever!”
Interested in seeing more of Nate and Sarah’s house sitting and travelling endeavours? Check out their Instagram account @adventuresincrittersitting.
If you ever come across an unexpected surprise during your sit involving your new pawed, clawed, or hooved friend, get in touch with the 24/7 Vet Advice Line, who will be on hand to help — there is no question big or small.
Got an incredible photo of a pet you’ve sat for, or perhaps an adorable snap of your own? Why not enter our #TrustedTales competition. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a special Trusted Treat, all you need to do is post your pet looking super cute on Instagram using the hashtag #TrustedTales to be in with a chance of winning prizes every month.