How We Helped Newborn Goats Survive Their First Cold Night
Our efforts to breed the goat were somewhat more successful than our attempt to impregnate the sow, as evidenced by the two insensate little white lumps on the floor of the goat hutch early last Thursday morning. I'd been checking her for days - she was a first-time mother, and I wanted to be around to perform any required acts of caprine midwifery, remind her to breathe, feed her ice chips, or maybe just faint. But alas, very early on a seasonably arctic morning, I skirted down to her hutch and there they were.
My first instinct was to let them care for things their way - this is what all the books say, after all, that 90 percent of the time, human intervention isn't needed, that they know what to do, instinctively, that "We the People" are quite adept at getting in the way more than anything. But a little more reading suggested that these kids should have been up and eating, that first-time teenage mothers on cold, cold nights sometimes don't know what they're doing at all, that if I didn't interfere, these helpless lumps would be lifeless lumps soon enough.
So we intervened, creating the goat equivalent of an NICU, tending to them every few hours to ensure they stayed warm enough (indoor barn with heat lamp), that they developed muscular strength (standing them up, waiting for them to fall down, standing up, waiting for them to fall down, standing them up, was that a step?), and most importantly, of course, trying to get sustenance into them.
For three days (and as we hosted a group of twenty for a weekend-long party at the Hollow), we attempted bottles, we held them to the udder and milked the mother directly into their mouths, we milked off the engorged mother and spilled most of the contents, when we weren't being shat on. And so it went, until slowly, the combination of getting up and putting oneself on a teat and sucking and detaching and eventually frolicking just clicked in them.
And now, at 8-days old, we have prancing, playful, goofy, clumsy baby goats. Goat farming achievement unlocked.
(Bonus: the mama has great tits.)
Behold! Goat family!