This nanny goat wasn't kidding around.
Quadruplets don't come as often in the world of goat husbandry as triplets, twins and singles. When they do happen, often one or more of the babies don't live.
Emilee, a miniature Nubian dairy goat, was oblivious to the odds last Thursday night when she followed the path less traveled. The three-year-old goat delivered four healthy kids in 13 minutes.
Emilee belongs to the Pyron family - Daniel and Karmen and their six children. Karmen grew up on a hobby farm in Hermiston with goats and a menagerie of other animals. She doesn't remember ever seeing quadruplets in 15 or 16 years of "kidding seasons."
This was her first foray back into raising goats since her marriage to husband Daniel, an area manager for the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. Last Thursday, Emilee seemed uncomfortable, squatting and pawing throughout the day. Karmen knew the goat's time was near.
Early that evening, she addressed Emilee with a laugh and said, "Emilee, are you ever going to have these babies?"
To Karmen's wonder, the goat turned a full circle, lay down in some hay and seemed to push.
She called her children -- Nicholas, 11, Nathan, 9, Londyn, 7, Sean, 6, Brielle, 3, and Brooklyn, 19 months -- and husband. They wrapped Emilee in blankets and comforters to ward off the chill and gathered in the goat pen. Karmen, who home-schools her children, isn't one to miss an educational opportunity.
"We talked our way through it," she said.
They chatted about such topics as the function of contractions, the placenta, colostrum and bonding instincts as Karmen busily wiped faces of emerging babies. She pointed out the white, spongy coating on the bottoms of babies' hooves that protects the mother goat's insides from damage.
"God thinks of everything," she said.
Karmen said she was surprised to see four kids, though as many as five or six is possible. If a baby had been born dead, it would have been a teaching moment, Karmen said. But thankfully she didn't have to go there. It was over in a flash, starting at 6:42 p.m. and finishing at 6:55.
"(Birth) is a marvel and a miracle that never gets old," Karmen said. "They were in awe about it all."
Nicholas said his job was to place pads (absorbent puppy training pads) on the ground to lay each kid upon. He said his mom worked feverishly.
"She was catching babies as they came out and wiping their noses," he said. "They just slipped right out. She was able to catch them, but the next one was halfway out by the time she turned around."
Bruno, the billy goat, undoubtedly noticed all the hoopla from his pen across the pasture.
The family goat operation (the Eden Acres Miniature Dairy Goat Farm) will eventually sell most of Emilee's brood and those of several other nannies to people seeking dairy goats. Karmen uses some of the milk produced by the goat herd to drink and for making soaps and creams.
Karmen said she and the children plan to take Emilee's brood, clad in little diapers, on a road trip to a local retirement center.
Contact Kathy Aney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0810.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.