I had other plans today. But just as I set my briefcase in the backseat of the car and mentally drove myself to the coffee shop for a final day of editing, I heard not one, but two tiny bleats coming from the goat pen.
Mama goat had her twins this morning. We'd been waiting for what seemed like weeks, watching her rub her bulbous sides against the wire mesh of her pen back and forth, back and forth, as if rubbing might somehow trigger the big event. She looked miserable, waddling around like that. But this morning, we got the payoff.
One little guy (they're all little guys to me until I learn otherwise) greeted me with a questioning head tilt and a wag of his barely-there tail. But the other little guy couldn't stand--not when I coaxed him from my side of the mesh, not when I got down on my knees and lifted him carefully on all fours. He just couldn't summon the energy.
Mama had her hands full trying to keep the stronger kid away from her teats. One is plugged (we'll be dealing with that later) and she just didn't feel like sharing the other. This second kid had me worried. Wet, tired, and shivering, he kept laying his head against the straw.
We've been through this before--plenty of times--but I never get used to the initial hesitance of the mother to let her babies feed. I never get used to watching those tiny beings struggle to keep their head above the straw. So I worried.
Tera worried, too. She's been reading "Raising Goats the Modern Way" in preparation for a vet career (she doesn't yet know there's a bit more to it than devouring one goat book) and she was itching to get in there and swipe at the birthing fluid that clung to the weaker baby's fur. I let her wipe for a minute until I couldn't stand the gentleness of it any longer.
"You've got to wipe like you mean it, honey."
She gave another loving feather-swipe.
"Like you really mean it," I said.
She looked at me like I'd just run over a squirrel. "I don't want to hurt him."
I took the towel and the baby and set to scrubbing in earnest. His black fur glistened under all that slime (I hope you're not enjoying dinner while we have this discussion), but after ten minutes of rubbing, I got him cleaned up and warmed. While Tera tried to hold him up to the mother's teats, I went to the shed, got my supply of "emergency lamb milk replacer" (which we keep for just such occasions), and made a tiny bottle of warmed milk. I just wanted the little guy to get a sip--just enough to put some energy in those skinny little legs.
The long and short of my day is this: both kids are up and dancing in the straw. "Boing" is a better term, actually. They're boinging. They've downed two bottles between them (Mama still won't let them drink) and they've taken to sucking on Tera's t-shirt sleeves for comfort.
My editing has had to wait until this moment, but I'm not complaining. When I finish here, I get to go home and take in another eyeful (and armful) of new life.
Labels: wild kingdom