HANSON – Most days the students participating in the WHRHS Transition Vocation Program’s students, including Grace Culley and Riley Miller at Channell Homestead farm on South Street in Hanson, spend their shifts doing the usual chores.
They muck out horse stalls, feed the animals and, when there’s time, maybe pet the rabbits.
Playing midwife to a pregnant nanny goat was an unexpected addition to the job skills curriculum this month.
Farm owner Christianie Channell had a few errands to run while W-H adviser Sarah Hall and her students were working, and said the goat in question seemed perfectly fine. No signs of going into labor.
“We breed Nigerian dwarf goats, and that day a first-time mom goat had babies,” Channell said this week. “I didn’t think she was going to have babies until that afternoon, and I was out with my 3-year-old son, and I get a call from Sarah saying, ‘Um, I think the goat’s having babies!’”
Dottie, the nanny goat in question, decided she would be giving birth early.
Channell was at least 15 minutes away and told Hall, she was going to have to deliver the kids.
Hall admits she was a little unnerved by the whole thing, but her students knew what to do.
Grace took part in the midwifery. Riley was not present for the excitement.
“It was fun and gross at the same time,” Grace said.
“There was a lot of … um… liquid,” Hall expounded. “But I would say the students were more calm than I was.”
Grace agreed. She remembered that Channell used cloth towels and puppy house training pads to rub the kids vigorously to make sure they were breathing OK, as they had seen in a video the farm made of a previous birth.
They had been having lunch and were looking forward to “snuggle time” with the baby animals before returning to school, Hall recalled.
Grace and her friend Jackie had been checking on the goat frequently at the request of Ms. Channell, “and she ended up having babies,” Grace said.
Channell talked them through the birthing assistance n FaceTime.
“Out of nowhere, she just dropped down and plopped those babies out,” Channell said. “They all came together and [Hall] ended up FaceTiming me, so I just kind of told her what to do. They did everything just right.”
The students have been working at the farm since the beginning of the school year.
“They’ve been such a blessing,” said Channell, who said they would be doing a summer program as well and next school year.
The farm does other summer programs, including horseback riding lessons as well as running a farm stand that sells goat’s milk products.
“We make all-natural body products,” she said. “I milk the goats every day. [The goat’s milk products] are really very beneficial to your skin.”
The WHRHS program places the students in real jobs at Dollar Tree, Meadow Brook, All-American Assisted Living and Channell Homestead to provide real job site experience. The students were also involved in renaming the program that was once known as the post-graduate program.
These students now have a bullet point in real-world experience of having to think on their feet to add to their résumé.