If you said “baby goats!” then – well – YOU’RE RIGHT!
Before anyone starts breaking out cigars and celebrating, however, let me clarify that these are not our baby goats. Rather, they are two (of eventually three or four) brought in from other farms to expand our own herd this season. Why might a person do such a thing, when a person is expecting several goats at their own farm, one might ask? A couple reasons:
1) As I’ve learned more about dairy animals, I have started to consider specific attributes that I would like to see in my own herd,
2) BABY GOATS,
3) BABY GOATS, and;
4) BABY… oh you get it…
It’s been two years since I bottle raised those first four on the back porch. Last year we allowed Pearl and Jolene to raise their babies which meant minimal work on my end. It also amounted to minimal interaction. I retained one of the babies, Bee, who has grown to be a leery, cloven-hooved, hellion – characteristics I attribute to her lack of human interaction. Although she’s certainly become much easier to manage and (barely) tolerates scratches, her attitude is an excellent lesson on the benefits of bottle raising (in addition to limiting disease transmission if bottle-feeding pasteurized milk). This year, I have signed up for all of the constant worry and care that comes along with bottle babies – but the rewards are, you know, pretty great.
There is little that replaces the tinkling bleats of baby goats, the way their tails wag constantly, their happiness to see you approach with (or without) bottles, the way they fling their bodies into any open lap, and the spinning, springing, tap dancing, with pure, true joy for being alive. Are you feeling poorly? Get thee a baby goat (but remember it will eventually grow into an adult goat, just sayin’).
Tomorrow I pick up a third, and then the real work begins. Two of the four girls will likely kid over the next week. This morning I awoke to a message on a goat care page that I subscribe to. It was written in panic, “Two babies being born at once, two heads coming out – someone please help!!” My hands shook as I scrolled down the series of helpful responses and messages. Beads of cold sweat formed along my brow. The story ended well, for the most part. I took in a ragged breath, warmed bottles, went out to the barn. I’m going in, guys. So are many of you. The stress and investment is enormous, but the returns are big: milk (milk!) and, of course, BABY. GOATS. Godspeed to all the goat midwives reading, those brave souls scrubbing up and waiting. I salute you.