Sweetie gave us a beautiful baby girl! We’ve named her Sweet Spirit. Little Spirit is already following her mamma around like a champ. I swear, I saw her learning today! She looked from where she was to where she had just been, like she was memorizing the distance. She jetted across some of those distances sometimes, just for practice. Sometimes, her little face looked like she was concentrating hard.
And then I saw something funny in the barn.
Baby goats sleep in a “hut” or a small cave-like thing that lets them feel safe and draft-free when they don’t feel like interacting with the world. Some farms make really fancy huts out of 50-gallon drums with a heat-lamp hardwired into the top! We use what we’ve got. So, when I setup the kidding area for Sweetie, I put in a small dog crate (without the door). I put lots of soft barn bedding on the bottom of the crate. And I don’t especially like the type of bedding we have right now, so I grabbed a burlap feed sack, folded it up, and put it over the bedding so her tiny baby feet wouldn’t slip on loose bedding.
And we have more kids coming. So I setup two more “huts”. Spirit’s hut is big enough to share when the new kids grow a little. So I put out little huts, made by cutting a 50-gallon drum in half and cutting a little doorway in the side. One has an open top, so I put a big bowl on it to close off the top. That makes it short inside, but it’s strong enough for bigger kids to climb on without crushing it. I put down soft bedding, and I decided that the burlap sack had been a success, so I took it out of Spirit’s hut and put it in the baby hut. Spirit is walking just fine on loose bedding now, so I thought this would be fine.
And I put the two huts side-by-side while I worked. And Spirit had a big, active day with her mamma. When she started twitching, I took her back to the barn. Twitching means their body is saying “sleep!” and their brain is saying “No! There’s so much more to do and see and explore and play and learn!” They stomp their little feet to keep themselves awake, and twitch like little life-junkies. So I take them to the barn for a nap when they’re twitchy.
Spirit walked to where her hut belongs. But the new hut was there. It’s a BABY hut. Spirit walked in like she always does, but found it was shorter than she remembered. She sniffed, backed out and looked around, as if she were checking her coordinates. Convinced she had the right place, she got down on her belly and tried to wiggle into the baby hut. It was still very short. I imagine she felt like Alice in Wonderland!
She sniffed some more, decided it was the right spot, and collapsed for an overdue nap – with her butt halfway out of the hut. I lifted the cover to make it taller, but she didn’t go the rest of the way in. So I felt bad for her, and picked her up and put her in her own hut – the dog crate with soft bedding.
She poked her head out and looked around at where she was. And the she sniffed the crate all over. Something was off. She sniffed and sniffed. And she twitched and twitched. And she kicked the bedding into a pile and flopped down for a nap. But she kept twitching. Her body was still saying “sleep!” but now her brain was saying “this isn’t right!!” She started to get up twice. It was fascinating to watch her!
I felt bad for her and put the burlap bag back in her hut. When she went back in to her hut-in-the-wrong-spot, with the nice burlap bag on top of soft bedding, with plenty of room for her long legs and little body and big head with long floppy ears, she sniffed the burlap, sighed contentedly and curled up for a nap.
I know the goats sniff us. I’ve seen them sniff our mouths to see what we’ve been eating. But I didn’t realize just how much they use scent to take snapshots of their world!