I don’t know exactly where to begin but I will give it a try. It is quite a story!
In 2009 the weather on Christmas Day was balmy and breezy and our beautiful jennet, Raven, came in season. I called Dayle and asked her if she wanted to possibly have a Christmas foal next year. She laughingly said 'sure' so we bred Wit’s End Badlands Marauder to Raven. It would be rare that a jennet deliver exactly 12 months from the day she was bred but that is precisely what happened this 2010 Christmas Day. As you can see by photos on the brood jennet's page that Dayle was posting pictures of Raven’s progress and I was wishing so much for a Christmas day foaling. I kept saying it would be the best Christmas present ever……and it was.
At 6:48 p.m. Christmas Day, Raven presented us with a precious little black jack. There is always an anxious feeling about a maiden with her first foal. At first all appeared to be okay. The actual birth process took a bit longer than most as Raven, being a maiden, and having a very small opening, was having some difficulty pushing her foal out. Joe was there to help her and thank goodness he was. He worked very hard and pulled every time she would push. At last the foal was out. Before too much time had passed we observed the foal was taking an unusually long time in getting on his feet, and staying on them once he got up. Raven appeared to be overly anxious to smother him with kisses and licks, although she, too, seemed a bit unsure of what to do. Both mother and baby kept trying to do what new moms and babies do but neither was sure of what their role was in the situation. It took Magi an hour before he stood up and then he still did not approach his mother. In her defense, she was rather pushy with him and kept biting at him and pushing him in the wrong direction. After a while, not nearly as long as it seemed, Dayle and Joe intervened and tried to assist in his nursing and getting the necessary nutrition to him. He refused to nurse the engorged teats so they milked Raven to give the milk to Magi. He drank it but after several feedings he was no longer swallowing. They immediately called the vet, wrapped Magi in a blanket and headed straight to the vet. Thank goodness he was born at Half Ass Acres where the cams were available, the vet was close, and he was under the care of such experienced breeders!
Magi was a very sick little guy. His temperature was very low, and they warmed him on a heating pad. The vet inserted a feeding tube, gave him artificial colostrum because his snap test showed that his count was not high enough, put him on antibiotics twice daily, inserted a shunt for an IV for fluids and sent him back home with Dayle and Joe to care for his every need. He did not want Magi to return to the elements of the cold temperatures so the decision was made that he would live in the house. He recommended he not return to his mother as it would put him back in danger of more rejection and the changing temperatures. Joe and Dayle accepted the responsibility without any hesitation. While the fluid bag was still inserted in his shunt Magi lived in a playpen next to their bed. Then when he no longer needed fluids that is when Magi became a resident in the bathroom of their master bedroom. Dayle wanted us to be able to see him so they installed a cam, now known as the Potty Cam, for me and everyone who wanted to watch. That is exactly what we all did for 9 days. They fed him every two hours, placed comforters on the bathroom floor, provided him a pillow and stuffed toy, and took care of his every need. Two days later the feeding tube was removed (the IV was already removed) and he was a vibrant member of their family. Magi even wore baby diapers so he could have the run of the house. It was truly a sight to behold and put smiles on faces all over the country. The Potty Cam provided all of us with a constant view of the hourly care given to Magi and the dedication it took to get him out of danger and on the road to recovery.
On day 9 Magi was moved to a warm barn stall where he was provided with an 6 month old female buddy. He was not placed back with his mother as she has moved on and been put back with the other jennets. Raven is doing great and appears to have already forgotten the experience. I feel badly she did not have a positive first foaling experience but she will do much better the next time.
For now, Magi and Paper Tyger are doing just great. They are beginning to bond and become friends……the boy has a story to tell. One day we may know more but it is thought that during the birthing process, which was a bit lengthy, he suffered from some oxygen deprivation causing his reflexes to be slower than normal. He was not able to get up, nurse, exercise, and get strong as quickly as he needed to do. As time has passed he is no longer reacting slowly and has caught up with his growth pattern. He is perfectly normal and healthy and LOVED BY ALL! He has truly captured the hearts of all of us who have diligently watched and prayed for him. God does answer prayers if you only BELIEVE! This is the best Christmas gift ever…”The Gift of the Magi.”
Thank you Dayle and Joe for everything you so unselfishly did for our Christmas baby. Magi will eventually be returning to Wit’s End Farm. Return often to follow Magi’s story as he continues to live in our hearts and minds forever.
Update: Paper Tyger did not work out as a buddy nor did Lullaby Lilly. They were both too aggressive with him by themselves as they had already bonded as a trio with Cute Too Boot, another weaned jennet. They also tried their over 30 half blind jennet, Penny, who did not interact with him so that did not work either. Around that time Harris, the barn cat, started spending all his time with Magi and they became strongly bonded!! Next a jennet and her foal, Shimmy and Roger, were put in a stall next door with a visitation window that is eye level to Magi where he could see them at all times. They were allowed to all three visit together for a little time each day in the same stall so they would get to know each other. Later he was moved to a stall with an outside run and a creep feeder where only Magi and his cat could go and Shimmy and Roger were put with him in the same stall. Shimmy was too aggressive to Magi and was frightening him so then we tried Soldier and Valerie in the stall with him. Valerie has never backed an ear at him yet! When the weather is nice all three are put in the mom and foal pasture for several hours each day. Harris, the cat, watches from the other side of the fence and still sleeps with Magi every night.
***Be sure to watch the videos below for updates!
Harris, the cat, cleaning Magi's coat on 1/26/11
Close-up foaling video compliments of Half Ass Acres!