The Mysterious Disappearance of Three-Legged-Pete
Pete is the solid black baby on the left
We have an unsettling mystery here on the farm. Three Legged Pete is missing. Three- Legged Pete is a buckling born to my dear girl, Honeybelle, aka Big Red. You may remember she was the first to deliver and delivered quadruplets. Sadly, we are now down to two little bucklings for our big red girl. Suzy Snowflake, the only doeling born of the quads, passed away just a few days after her birth. Originally, we called the three boys Hardrock, Coco, and Joe. Joe was deemed Three-Legged Pete after he suffered a slight injury from his momma accidentally stepping on him and creating a rather nasty abrasion. Although his abrasion was healing nicely, he continued to favor that leg, thus the name Three Legged Pete.
During kidding season, we are in the barn almost hourly. There is much work to be done to prepare for all the mamas and babies. There are stalls to be cleaned, supplies to be restocked in case of an emergency, mamas to be cared for and supplemented, as well as babies to monitor and feed. We take baby season very seriously. It is an exhausting yet exhilarating time for us. Often, we forgo planned meals, sitting down together, and regular sleep so that the little ones stay on schedule and are in optimal health. It is hard work, but we love what we do.
On Monday, Three Legged Pete went missing. We had been in the barn every two hours the entire night through. We have bottle babies, and they require feedings every two hours for the first two weeks. We monitored the whole herd at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. At those times, Pete and his brothers were frolicking, nursing, and napping near their mama. All was well and going smoothly. At 1:00, we noticed Pete was not with his brothers or his mom. We assumed he was in the barn napping with the other kids, but we did not do a headcount. I thought it odd, mentioned it to Eric, but because we were giving a barn tour to the Gazette photographer and there were no sounds of distress, we didn’t worry. We went out at 2:30 to check on Fuchsia, aka Little Black, scheduled to deliver next. Nothing in the barn was amiss. No one was distressed; there were no crying kids, everyone was doing what they normally do together. The Bibbed Wonder and The Bean noticed there was still no Pete. They walked the fields; they scoured the barn; they looked in all the nooks and crannies a baby could get stuck. They found nothing. They then began to worry and think of darker possibilities. They took axes and broke through the ice on the large watering troughs. They again walked the field and the fence line looking for Pete or possibly tracks in the snow where a predator could have entered and carried him off. Again, there was nothing to be found. At 4:00, we all went out and again, scoured the barn, turned over hay piles, walked the fields, checked the fence, the creek, even the wallows the pigs created. We found nothing. There were no signs of intrusion, no sounds of distress, no tufts of hair, no sign of blood. He simply vanished.
We again searched 6:00 just for our own peace of mind, and still, we turned up nothing. We have deduced that whatever happened to little Pete was instantaneous. If a kid is in distress, the entire herd is distressed. If a kid is in danger or upset, a mama is obviously stressed and showing signs of distress. We believe whatever happened must have been quick and immediate. However, aside from a haybale rolling upon him and crushing him, we are at a loss. The goats jump, play, and push large round hay bales that are in the barn. We have considered that little Pete was snuggled asleep at the base of a hay bale, and a bale was innocently pushed, perhaps crushing him. That would have been immediate and instantaneous. We have rolled bales, moved mounds of hay, and still, we can’t find Pete. It is an upsetting and unnerving development. Pete was one of our favorites and was very friendly due to being constantly handled for cleaning and dressing his abrasion. He enjoyed being cradled like a baby and was content to be carried about while we did chores or walked with the herd. Like a missing pet, our minds go to various scenarios, and we worry and fret about what could have happened to him. The only thing that brings us comfort is that he did not suffer whatever happened, and it was not violent.
As with all upsetting events, we try to glean some lessons. Now, we do a quick headcount of all the babies and the herd. We are still not convinced a predator is not the culprit. However, the likelihood of a predator in the barn in the middle of the day is unlikely while we are so frequently visiting. The Bean is a bit more cautious when going out to the barn and often requests the Big-B or Chubs accompaniment. Sadly, we may never understand what happened to him. This is just one of the less desirable aspects of farm life. We don’t have any answers, but it has raised our consciousness to secure safety measures for all. Although I can process this information, I still find myself constantly revisiting what happened to Three-Legged Pete.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, may you have no unsettling mysteries of your own, and wash your hands.