The Making of “Pearl of Great Price”

As a tribute to goat kidding season I’ve been posting photographs of kids I’ve had over the years on my personal Facebook page – Caprine kids, that is.  Some of the photographs ended up being the basis for paintings in my “Caprine Colors” series.

I began building my herd in 2003 but didn’t start breeding until 2005.  The initial herd consisted of two nannies and a doe kid.  By the time this story begins that herd had grown to fourteen nannies and they were in various stages of gestation.  That season I had bred in two stages – older nannies in the early group and younger does, kidding for the first time, in a later one.  The result being two kidding seasons’ that year.  Eight older does had kidded between 12/25/2006 and 2/12/2007 and I was waiting for the second round of births to begin.

There are easy kidding seasons and complicated ones.  This year was to be one of complications and not just that of vastly separate kidding and weaning periods.  One of my older nannies had a bad kid presentment in labor in late December with its front legs tucked under (normal presentment of a kid is front feet and nose first).  A friend had pulled him for me and then, even though the next billy was presenting correctly, showed me how to pull a kid so I’d know what a normal presentment felt like.

The story behind this painting started on a Saturday afternoon in April.   The first of those latter group of does went into labor just as I stopped to check in on my way to run an errand.   Her water had broken but her labor was not progressing well.  The errand was forgotten and after thirty minutes of watching her strain I decided she might need some help.  Unfortunately, her kid’s her head was turned completely to the right and I was unable, being by myself, to get the kid pushed back enough to try to straighten her nose.  I phoned the vet immediately.   An hour after his arrival and one-hundred and fifty dollars later the expertise of the vet resulted in the delivery of a lovely female kid.  She was healthy with the exception of her head being twisted to the right the first few days of her life.

I decided to name her ‘Pearl’ as in “Pearl of Great Price”.  Part of this was that while her mother was a lovely caramel color with the exception of a white ‘cap’ on top of her head, speckling of white on her ears, and bit of white around her nose, Pearl was almost a negative image of her mom. She was a lovely pearly white all over with the exception of caramel on her face, across her neck and shoulder, and speckling her ears.  The great price, of course, came from the cost of delivery.

Years later I would use a photograph I had taken of the two of them in the pasture door of the barn as the basis for this painting.

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