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HOMEGROWN Life: The Waiting is the Hardest Part






Tom Petty was right, waiting stinks.

Waiting for goats

I’m finally caught up on sleep after waiting all weekend for two goats we share with friends out in the country to give birth.  Starting last Friday, I travelled out to their property and kept a vaginal vigil: bundled up in layers, with a bucket as my chair, and putting my ears through their own personal hell as small-town country music played (the same songs repeatedly, I might add) on the only radio station I could tune, I sat there waiting… and waiting… and waiting for those goats to pop.  I only had a total of 5 hours sleep from Friday evening until we travelled back home Sunday night so I could get ready for my 9-5 work week.  I stayed up because I’ve never witnessed a kid being born and I really didn’t want to miss it.  Disappointingly, as of the writing of this Homegrown post, nothing has happened yet.

But by golly, they sure looked ready to give birth: Their poo is all wet and strung together with mucus, their vulvas are pretty red and swollen (and I swear they’re dilated, but what do I know), they’re standing and sitting and standing and sitting and never seem at ease, they’re nesting in the straw, and making sounds like they’re in tremendous discomfort.

However none of this matters because the does were allowed to run with the buck freely, and we never bothered with ultrasounds or other fancy-schmancy veterinary tricks, so there is no real way to pinpoint exactly when each one got pregnant, and thusly, there’s no real way to approximate when each one might give birth.  Tick tock, sisters.

All we can do is rely on their behavioral and bodily cues to help us guess that they’re probably going to give birth “soon,” but “soon” seems quite relative considering I’ve been staring at goats all weekend to the point where I freaked out and thought one’s water broke when it was really just pee.  Whoopsie.  Point is, they could give birth tonight, or they could give birth a week from tonight – there’s no way we can be accurate enough to know.

I’m prepared and on-call, though.  I alerted my boss that I might have to take a vacation day to witness the miracle of life, and my husband and I have our overnight bags packed.

I suppose I should take all this waiting in stride… I mean, once the kids are born, Justin and I will be so busy helping out with milking and nursing duties, in addition to taking care of our own homestead, that there won’t be any time left to wait!



Danielle Yellow Tree

“I’m half of YellowTree Farm, an urban homestead that I founded with my husband in late 2008. Together, my husband and I grow vegetables and raise animals on less than 1/10 of an acre in St. Louis, Missouri. We speak publicly about urban farming, sew, and make our own toiletries.  I don’t have children. I have animals, which is kind of the same thing as being a parent, except I eat my babies.”

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10 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: The Waiting is the Hardest Part”

  1. Quaint Homesteader Says:

    Sorry, having animals is not like having kids. (Even if they are both called “kids”.) And witnessing the miracle of like if nothing like experiencing the miracle of life….I dare you to try it!

    (I wish I could use an electric fence on my 2 year old! LOL)

    Good luck with the Goats,


  2. Yay for goat babies! We’ve got two that are due soon (mid-March and early-April). The hard part about goats is that their gestation is between 145-155 days so even if you do know when they were bred (like us) it’s still impossible to pinpoint the day they are due. This will be our first time helping with a goat birth and I am so freaking nervous!

  3. There is a great website called where people have cams on their momma’s to be and people all over the world will help you keep watch. Everything from horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, goats, dogs, cats, and lots of other critters are on there. The other plus is that there are very experienced people that can give advice and help relieve the stress!! I have had mares and jennys on there and it sure saved me!!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Lieberman. Mike Lieberman said: Living HOMEGROWN: The Waiting is the Hardest Part via @HomeGrownDotOrg […]

  5. Sorry, QH. I’ll have to kindly pass on your dare. My husband and I made the committed decision long ago to live childfree by choice.

    And I don’t consider my animals to be my little children. The “I don’t have children. I have animals, which is kind of the same thing as being a parent, except I eat my babies,” is one of our mottos, meant to be humorous, wherein the similarities are implied in the caring and raising of living creatures, and not, however, in falsely imagining livestock to be our actual offspring.


  6. I remember my first kidding season…I spent a week in the barn with my sleeping bag…my husband finally drug me back to the house and within 12 hours all 5 of my girls had kidded without me! The truth is I think all of my fussing made them nervous and they waited for me to leave!

  7. Danielle

    Very thoughtful response and thank you for the article. It is nice to be reminded of how complex simple sounding situations are. An animal giving birth seems so easy in thought, but that is not often the case. Cats are way different than Goats 🙂

    Also, I thank you for not taking the dare posed by QH (and I secretly wish many of my friends had made the same choice)

    I get the feeling that that many of my friends made the decision to have kid(s), without thinking of consequences. It is the “American Dream”, a house, a job, and a nuclear family with 2.5 children. I respect your decision, for whatever reason it may have been made.

    Sorry, not trying to get too political… This country has enough politicians.

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