Since this is an ongoing learning process that is far from complete, I've decided to write this blog in diary format. Given that the format is less formal, be advised that I may do a bit of swearing here and there.
This diary is in reverse chronological order (newest entries first).
There are sections on resources and takeaways at the bottom of the blog.
The November 28 AI-a-thon
November 28, 2021
Could things go any more wrong?
I Stress, You Stress, We All Stress Together:
Today didn't start well. Last night my neighbors had held an incredibly loud party with the DJ blasting music well after midnight. Then, after a merciful pause, someone decided to plug in an electric guitar. So when the time came to do my planned AIs, I was already feeling ragged.
This is not a good thing when you're planning on sticking a speculum up a goat's va-jay-jay.
Most animals pick up on their handler's moods. Their survival in the wild depends on this sensitivity. Since goats are prey animals they are going to get very worried if something has their personal predator (me) feeling stressed.
What happens when a goat is stressed? Muscles start clenching. Did you know that the vagina is surrounded by muscles? Yeah. I was repeatedly reminded of this fact during the AIs today.
What happens when you stick a speculum in a tight vagina? If you've been to a gynecologist you know exactly how that feels.
Needless to say, I went through a lot of gel.
BTW, I use 3 gram individually wrapped packets of HR gel. I don't want to muck up an AI by using something that may have gotten contaminated. I'm still too busy mucking up AIs in myriad other ways.
My Less-than-Perfect AI Station:
In my clever rearrangement of the AI station, it didn't occur to me that at one point I would be holding an AI-a-thon with five does in the waiting area.
Why so many does in the waiting area? So that they can chill out in an area where they are used to relaxing AND be easily accessible when it is their turn. I'm doing a large group for a couple of reasons: (1) I'm expecting that maybe 1/3 will take and (2) it's my last chance to AI for kids during my Spring break from teaching.
It didn't occur to me that my back would be up against the divider door between the two pens (when it was closed), allowing the next victim to nibble on my shirt (yes that happened) and restricting my movement. When I AI'd Bewitched I had closed the exterior barn door, keeping the other goats out, but left the divider door open.
But being chewed on was the least of my problems.
And Then This Happened:
Let's start with Adele.
Why am I starting with Adele? I checked her mucous (yay me!) at 8:30 am and discovered that she was in her dry window.
I assembled the kit. This time I remembered the Cystorelin, which I had already loaded into individual syringes for each doe yesterday. The thermos reached the right temperature and I retrieved my straw. I thawed the straw for 30 seconds in the wet bath, dried it, loaded it into the gun and then inserted the unit into the sheath, placing the unit in the dry bath. Something looked off, so I pulled the gun out of the dry bath. The sheath fell off. It hadn't locked on. WTF? I messed with it, then gave up and headed to the AI station. The ten minute timer that I had set was counting down rapidly. Or so I thought.
In the barn, I put Adele up on the fitting stand with the sling under her belly, giving her treats each step of the way. She was tight (see above). I achieved good penetration with the gun, but could not get it to dispense the semen correctly. I messed with it (again), getting increasingly anxious (so helpful!). Finally, I gave up, pulled out, and checked the straw. It had a solid half inch left. I moved Adele to the waiting area, noting that my ten minute timer never went off (huh?).
It might have helped if I had remembered to hit the start button.
Not My Brightest Move:
Back in the kitchen, as I cleaned up my equipment, I took a hard look at the straw. Crap on a cracker. I forgot to cut the plug off. It might have helped if I had remembered to review the AI Manual as I worked. It's not like it wasn't on top of my AI kit the entire time.
I popped a Vistaril, opened the manual, and began cleaning equipment in preparation for AIing the next doe.
Why the Vistaril? Vistaril is an antihistamine that also works for anxiety. I highly recommend having some on hand. Seriously. When I'm stressed I make more mistakes. I know, Captain Obvious here.
My plan was to AI the does in AM and PM, just like I had done with Bewitched.
I checked mucous (8:00-9:00 am).
Attempted first AI at 9 am (Adele).
Rearranged AI station to keep Hazel from chewing on me while I worked. Cleaned equipment, reviewed manual, prepped the next straw.
AI'd Clover (not sure of time). When I checked her mucous earlier this morning it was cloudy and elastic. The AI went well.
Cleaned up and prepared equipment.
Sugar finished at 11:33 am. For being such a bee-ach lately, and making me lift her substantial front end up on the stand, her AI went well.
More clean up and prep.
Leia finished at 12:23. Easy penetration, emptied full contents of straw.
More clean up and prep.
Hazel finished at 1:20. Hazel had fought hard during the mucous exam and caused a bit of bleeding. So I went extra gentle, deposited the semen quickly, then pulled out. When I examined the gun there was some semen left in the straw. SMH.
Better that than to keep working when she was visibly upset and starting to struggle again. Blood is a spermicide, so I wanted to avoid another bleeding episode.
I did some binge eating and then cleaned and packed up the equipment.
I'll ultrasound Bewitched on December 23 and this last group of victims on December 28.
And We Have a Splash and Dash!
11/23/2021 1:25 pm
Bewitched has been standing at the gate to the AI station screaming at me all morning. The strange thing is, her paddock shares a fence line with the bucks. SMH.
As planned (sort of), I AI'd her at approximately 1:00. And forgot the Cystorelin. Again. This time I had the presence of mind to check the mucous. After the fact. And only because she was oozing.
The good news is that the mucous was cloudy and elastic. Her os was tighter than during previous AIs, so it was pretty much a splash and dash.
I'm cautiously optimistic.
Three hundred dollars in straws later - just for these two days of AI.
Nope, so far NOT a money saving project.
Bewitched Singing the Song of Her People.
Poor, longsuffering Bewitched
This week I am on vacation for an entire week. I'm feeling very grateful for Thanksgiving! However, my goats may be feeling a little less grateful right about now. Here's what happened:
Sunday: get does used to jumping up on the massive stanchion that I use for AI. Bribe with treats.
Boy do I Feel Stupid.
Recap: I AI'd a bunch of does and came up a big fat zero. See: My Prediction was Wrong
My Prediction was Wrong.
See: "Buying Semen Like it was Toilet Paper During Quarantine" for my prediction.
November 19, 2021
The pregnancy test results are in from WADDL.
I burned through ten straws and had a zero conception rate.
I'm feeling rather proud of myself for not swearing yet.
Buying Semen like it was Toilet Paper during Quarantine
Recently one of my goat friends commented on the number of semen purchases that I've made in the last year. Her comment had the tone of our jokes about me goat shopping in the middle of the night, while (ahem) drunk. To prove her wrong, I did an inventory. Here's what I found:
She may be right.
In my defense, I'm expecting to be incredibly incompetent for the first year or two and am predicting that I will easily burn through five straws to achieve one conception.
More updates to come . . .
Marie-France Orillion, Ph.D.
Welcome to my blog! I am a retired researcher/university administrator. Since I'm a bit of a workaholic (my other addiction is sugar), I've embarked on a second career as an elementary school teacher. When I'm not working I enjoy playing with my goats and my gardens. This blog is a place where I reflect on what I've learned along the way.