Just an hour from Greenville, SC lies Whispering Pine Farm, a Grade A goat and sheep dairy and cheese-making farm. And, they train volunteers to help with their busy kidding season, which means learning how to care for and birth baby goats and lambs. Our resident goat-lover, Kristina, of course, had to do this.
Our readers at Kidding Around know how much we (ok, I) love baby goats and that we’ll pretty much do anything to hang out with them and learn about them and cuddle with them and give them all our love. Well, we visited Whispering Pines Farm in Seneca to do all of that and learn from Debbie Webster, the farm owner who has years and years of experience.
Intro to Birthing Goats
“Precious is definitely having babies today,” Debbie said to our group of homeschoolers as we all gathered in the warm shop during introductions.
Precious is one of the many mama goats at Whispering Pines and she was due to have her kids when we were there, as were several other goat mamas.
I was thrilled. My kids seemed excited from their facial expressions. It could have also meant a little fear as to what we’d be seeing but I think it was excitement so that’s what I’m going with.
Debbie gave us a rundown of what we’d be learning: how to walk the pasture and look for signs of a labor in the goats and sheep, what to do if one does go into labor and starts pushing out a bundle of cuteness, how to make sure the babies are warm, how to feed them, and how to make sure the older babies get some exercise.
Not one minute after we walked out of the barn shop did Debbie say Precious had already given birth to one baby and another was on the way. It took us another minute to get to the pasture just in time to watch baby goat number two be born. All of us got an up-close view of the amniotic fluid coming out of the mama and the little baby coming out right after.
Then we all learned what afterbirth was. It’s a farm and we knew what we were getting into – and it was awesome.
Learning about Mama Goats
Right after Precious gave birth, another goat, Daphne, went into labor in the same pasture. How lucky were we?!
Debbie was careful to instruct us to give Daphne her space and not get up close to her. The kids in the group were really respectful and listened to Debbie and gave the mama goat a wide berth to go where she pleased. It’s important, we learned, to not look like any kind of predator or get too close as to stress out the mom.
While the smaller kids were pretty good in the field and with the baby goats, these volunteer opportunities are better for older kids who can hold their own and not be managed as much.
All during this time, we were free to ask Debbie about what happens when a mama goat or sheep goes into labor, how they prefer to give birth, what needs to happen right after the baby is born, and how best to help the farm staff to handle all the births.
One of the biggest things we learned was just how carefully these mama goats and sheep need to be watched, especially in colder weather. The farm staff is so attentive to them, watching for the telltale signs of labor like pawing at the ground and circling around one space, and are ready at the drop of a hat (or baby goat?) to jump in and help the mama.
We saw Daphne give birth to one small baby goat and headed out of the pasture to go check out the older babies and let them out for recess.
More Baby Goats
The farm has pastures set up for sheep and goats and babies. The babies need to be kept warm and fed so they are in a separate area. These babies were just days old and oh-so-cute.
They were all huddled under a heat lamp but needed to practice running and jumping a bit. Our group helped the baby goats out into the sun and they got to play around for a bit.
In the meantime, the twins who were born to Precious were with us and needed to eat their first meal of nutritious colostrum. I was holding one of them and was in complete heaven but he needed to eat so off to the baby eating area we went. Like a human baby, a baby goat or lamb also gets colostrum, a nutrient-dense milk to help them get a good start in life. Baby goats and lambs get a few helpings of colostrum before they move onto regular goat’s milk.
After the twins were fed, four more baby goats came in. Remember Daphne the mama goat giving birth in the pasture? She ended up having quads. Four tiny baby goats – three girls and one boy – were now with us and they were so, so cute and adorable.
Since Whispering Pines is a dairy farm, the babies are separated from their mothers at birth. This is usually a tough thing for us non-farmers to process, especially us mothers, but it’s a very common practice and all the animals on the farm are happy and healthy.
Volunteering During Kidding Season
Whispering Pines Farm is a family-run farm and they really need volunteers. This particular volunteer orientation was fantastic as it was geared towards homeschoolers but they also have other opportunities during non-school times to volunteer and learn how to birth and care for baby goats and lambs.
You don’t need to have kids or be a kid or come as a family. You can come and volunteer in whatever state of life you’re in and you’ll probably leave happier than when you came. This kind of volunteer experience is best suited for kids ages 9+ just because the babies are fragile and need special care and attention. If parents bring their human kids, they need to watch them closely.
The best thing to do is stay tuned to the Whispering Pines Facebook page for events or just text or call Debbie herself (864.360.3222). She’s an open book and will tell you exactly what you can do and what she needs.
Speaking of needs, Whispering Pines really needs towels. With all the kids they are having on the farm, the need for towels is great. Every time a baby is born, they need a clean towel. If you can drop them off at the farm, that’d be fantastic. Or call Debbie and she can help you figure out how to get them there.
If you choose to volunteer, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and dress warmly with hats, gloves, and layers. It’s a farm and you’ll be getting dirty.
About Whispering Pines Farm
Whispering Pines is a family-owned and operated dairy farm. They have horses, cows, goats, and sheep and are a “licensed Grade A Raw Goat and Sheep and Cow milk dairy and cheese making facility.”
The farm is set on 180 acres in Seneca, SC, about an hour outside of Greenville. The farm used to be in Mauldin, which is where I first visited years and years ago. I always loved learning about the sheep and goats and of course, cuddling any baby goat or lamb I could.
Debbie Webster is a longtime farmer and horsewoman who has used all those acres and animals to help others in so many ways. Her farm has hosted 4 H clubs, homeschoolers, and kids and families with special needs. She used to put on an elaborate live nativity at the farm in Mauldin where they had a large indoor arena. She’s changed her farm in many ways since moving to Seneca yet everything at the farm has a purpose and Debbie’s heart always shines through to every visitor.
Besides volunteer classes during kidding season, Debbie also hosts cheese-making classes at the farm, which I find completely fascinating and would love to do someday. Her products are available on-site at the farm as well as at some local retailers like the Swamp Rabbit Cafe.
Lastly, Whispering Pines offers starter flocks and sheep/goat milking classes.
Whispering Pines Farm
681 Old Campbell Bridge Road, Seneca
Want more baby animals?
We have a whole list for that.