We seem to have a small break in our baby season. I must admit, the baby season has not been as enjoyable as I usually find it to be. Many of you know we had a huge scare with my favorite girl, Red. Red suffered from “milk fever” or low blood calcium. It took some time and several phone calls to our vet to get my girl healthy again. It was a bit touch and go, but thankfully, she seems to be on the mend. Red’s illness was a reminder of how precious life is and how quickly it can slip away.
To date, we have lost five babies. Losing five babies is a lot for us. We lose one or two every year, but often they are stillborn or have apparent health issues. This year, we had multiple births of seemingly healthy babies, and we lost them in a matter of hours. We have never experienced this before. Sadly, most of the ones we lost were females with beautiful markings. It is frustrating when things go wrong. We work very hard to ensure our girls remain healthy, are well taken care of, and receive the best care. Sometimes, things go wrong, and we have no explanation for why.
One of the perks of babies who need help is bottle feeding. I love to bottle-feed baby goats. We keep our bottle babies on a four-hour feeding schedule. Every four hours, we go to the barn armed with several bottles, and we get to snuggle, cuddle, and feed the babies who need an extra boost. Bottle babies are the friendliest little things and perceive us as their mothers. They will follow us around, call to us, and if we sit down, they climb all over us. I love bottle babies.
This year, we have two bottle babies. We have Red’s lone surviving baby, Midge. Midgie has her mom’s sweet disposition and is adorable. She does not have any fancy markings, but she is adorable just the same. Midge will remain here on the farm with us for her life. She will become one of our milking does when she is grown. Red’s babies are always strong milk producers, and they are darlings on the milk stand. I’m quite smitten with Midge.
We also have a little Boer goat baby we are bottle feeding. We have named this little guy Lester. Lester is one of Waddle’s triplets. Waddle’s is our Boer goat with one teat who always has multiples. Sadly, Waddles wants nothing to do with little Lester. Nature can be very unkind. I’m sure that with only one functioning teat, Waddles knows she cannot feed all three babies. She has accepted the more robust and larger kids and rejects little Lester. Being a little trooper, Lester takes it in stride. He loves to see us coming. When we enter the barn or pasture, he comes running to us, maaing and trying to suckle on our boots and pant legs. He tries to nurse on our ears, hair and faces when we pick him up. He is the most adorable little guy.
Lester will eat up to eighteen ounces or two regular-sized baby bottles per feeding. He eats until his little tummy feels like a tight little drum. When Lester is getting full, he makes funny grunting sounds, takes a break from nursing, and then dives back in for another round of milk. Once his little tummy is full, he finds a soft sunny spot and naps for a few hours. In four hours, we start the process all over again. It is rewarding to have the babies thrive after we would swear they are knocking on death’s door. Little Lester bounces around, plays, and climbs with the other kids. He doesn’t seem to mind that his mama wants nothing to do with him. Like any bottle baby, Lester is always underfoot. We are enjoying this little guy, and I hope someone wants him as a pet or a herd sire. He’s a very handsome little lad.
Little Midge is relying less on the bottle and more on Red for feedings. This is a good thing. We have been bottle-feeding Midge to supplement Red’s lack of milk since she has been sick. Midge takes two to three bottles daily and nurses on Red the rest of the time. Although I enjoy bottle feeding the babies, I understand that it is better for Midge, and it means Red is healing if she is producing milk. Midge likes attention and will always be extra friendly. She is going to make an excellent addition to our herd. It does my heart good to see little Midge thriving.
Although the baby season has been a bit rougher than usual, at the moment, everyone is healthy and doing well. For this, I am grateful. We cannot get enough of our little ones and make it a point to cuddle and snuggle everyone. Although, aside from Lester, I refuse to give anyone with testicles a name. I wish we could keep everyone, but we are to the point where I understand not everyone can stay here forever. I hope that some of our boys with beautiful moon spots will find good homes as pets or herd sires. I will share pictures of the little guys who can’t stay in a few weeks in hopes of finding them good homes. They will play, grow, and thrive alongside their mamas until then.
Baby season is a mixed bag of blessings and difficulties. As with every year, we will be grateful for the blessings and learn hard lessons from the difficulties. There is never a dull moment here on the farm. For a brief time, I will enjoy playing mama to our babies who need some extra care. We will also enjoy watching them grow and thrive.
On this lovely spring day, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the blessings, and learn something valuable from the challenges. Of course, keep washing your hands.