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  • Writer's pictureTina

Little Miss Merribelle

Well, dear reader, it has happened again. We are in the early days of kidding season, and already I am smitten with yet another baby goat. Every year, it is a challenge for me to "stay neutral" and not fall in love with some itty-bitty, bouncing bundle of sheer delight. Every year I promise The Bibbed Wonder I will agree to sell everyone and will not demand to keep anyone new from the current baby season. Yet, every year, I have one special little darling I absolutely adore who makes it a challenge for me to be a farmer vs. a pet owner. Ha! who am I kidding? I am a pet owner through and through! Last year, it was my special girl, Helen. I am happy to report Gabrielle is taking wonderful care of her, and she has a safe, well cared for, loving home with two beautiful little girls. This year, my special girl is little Merribelle.

Merribelle was born to Alice, Jordan's Boer goat, on Christmas Eve. Alice has always been a wonderful mom who has delivered gorgeous and personable babies. Last year, she had a single buckling, Captain Buddy Pants. This year, she delivered three gorgeous little girls, Noel, Hollyberry, and Merribelle. Merribelle was the last born and suffered from weak kid syndrome. It is common with multiple births and is remedied by vitamin B and selenium boosts. The back legs are often weak and splayed, leaving the little one to struggle to move, navigate her environment, and suckle. Merribelle was able to suckle just fine, and she got her legs under her after just a few days. However, Alice was intolerant of her weak baby. Even after Merribelle was on her feet, Alice would move away from her when she tried to suckle, step on her if she were underfoot and become outright aggressive with her at times. It was heartbreaking to watch. Alice will not be receiving the award for best mom this year...insert angry face.

Of course, we intervened immediately. We began supplementing Merribelle with additional bottles to ensure she was getting enough nutrition. We hoped after she became stronger, Alice would learn to accept her. However, it went quite the other way. Alice became increasingly more aggressive, and we were worried for little Merribelle's safety. I wanted to put her in a diaper and move her into the house. The Bibbed Wonder informed me he is quite content with nothing in our house needing diapers and prefers to keep it that way. Again, the man fails to see my charm. We considered moving all out to the main herd and their large area, but we worried if given more room to roam, Alice would completely reject Merribelle, and the other goats could injure her. We were soon given a wonderful opportunity to solve our problem.

One of our younger dairy goats, Dot, gave birth to twins. Dot is kind, calm, and gentle with little ones. Even better, she is s super-producer of milk. Once Dot's twins had full belly's on the precious colostrum, Eric rubbed little Merribelle with Dot's afterbirth and "grafted" her onto Dot's udders. Although I imagine it looked like a desperate survival scene from The Walking Dead, we had read that such a thing was successful for orphaned or rejected kids. We stood back, kept our fingers crossed, and waited. Dot indeed cleaned Merribelle off; she nuzzled her and was as gentle with her as she had been with her biological kids. Fortunately, there wasn't much size difference between Merribelle and the newborns. Merribell latched onto Dot's udder, suckled, got her belly full, and went off to lay by herself. Dot was not the problem with Merribelle suckling. Poor little Merribelle is so gun shy from her mean, hag birth mother, she runs out of the way every time Dot twitches her tail. It has been almost a week, and the situation with Merribelle is improving. Dot treats her with the kindness and gentleness of a good loving mother. Merribelle is less jumpy and is snuggling with her new adopted siblings. We are still supplementing Merribelle with bottles three to four times a day, but the interest and necessity are waning. To be truthful, we all enjoy feeding Merribelle and argue over whose turn it is to feed her. Often, she just takes the nipple of the bottle and plays with it. All the while, we enjoy snuggling her and receiving her devoted affection.

I believe soon we will not have to give Merribelle a bottle, and soon she will move on to nibbling hay, feed, and sampling water. However, she already has the bottle baby personality, and that is a hard thing to resist. Like Jupiter and Saturn aligning, the planets aligned for Miss Merribelle. Not only was she adopted by a loving mom, but she is also a female Boer goat, which The Bibbed Wonder is agreeable to keeping. I will not have to find the perfect loving home for my little Merribelle. She already has it...insert happy face. I will continue to give you updates on my little lovebug and, of course, like any proud mama, flood Facebook with her pictures. I must say, 2021 is off to a much better start on the goat front, at least. I will take the win where I can get it. However small a win it may be.

I hope 2021 is providing you with a few small wins as well. Remember, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, take the small wins when they arise, and of course, wash those hands.

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