Sunday, January 2, 2011
Bye Bye Babies
It's not "good-bye", it's just "see ya later". But I'm still sad over it.
Truth is, Buttercup just wouldn't take the milk. I watched You-Tube videos, looked up multiple bottle feeding techniques and even tried coaxing her to my side with rasins. Nothing worked. She choked and gagged herself on the milk until she was coughing.
That's not good for either of us.
The breeder wasn't milking Buttercup or Westley's mom so reuniting them wouldn't be a loss to them milk-wise. Goats are social beings, keeping the buck alone for weeks wouldn't be good for his sanity. So back they both went. They were both quiet on the few minute drive but as soon as I pulled into the driveway Buttercup started bleating like she was on fire, she knew she was home and mama was close. On the way to the goat pens her mother heard her and added her own mournful cries to the baby's. She jumped through the fence as soon as she was able and started suckling her mom with her tail wagging so hard she was shifting her back legs.
I never knew goats wagged their tails when happy; like a dog. I smiled, knowing I had done the right thing.
Westley was another story. His mama bucked him off the teat and walked away from her crying baby. My heart sank like a rock in a pond. He tried again. And again she knocked him off and this time butted him away. My throat tightened up and I swallowed hard. My mind raced with solutions if she shunned him. Then Westley's twin brother came over to greet him, he had been across the field playing with the other babies. He smelled his brother and latched on to his mama for a snack. Westley grabbed the opportunity and the other teat. Mama sniffed him and my body stiffened waiting for the emminent rejection and then, she let him be.
I waited around to make sure the does would continue to accept their babies. Buttercup seemed glued to her mama's side, strutting around the barnyard pleased as punch. Westley took to exploring seeking his mom for a quick drink whenever the need arose. We talked about the herd I wanted to establish, I checked out a new baby doe and we walked the fields talking goats and soaking up the peacefulness of the beasts.
In a few weeks I'll be able to bring them back home. The breeders invited me to come back as much as I wanted so they remember me and said I could come lend a hand during worming and hoof trimming. There are a few more girls expecting and if the timing works out they'll call me to visit then and see what it's all about. If I had bought the goats from the dairy farm like I had initially planned I wouldn't have had the resources when bottle feeding didn't work out. I wouldn't have the possibility of hands-on learning as I do now.
There's a lesson here about livestock and farming that I'm glad I've learned. Meet your farmers, befriend them. Lend a hand when you're able and don't let your pride blacken your inexperience or ignorance until you can't see the problems anymore.