Category Archives: Baby Goats (BGs)

Today was nuts

I have the kidding area setup so I can separate mammas with their babies at night, but open it up so the babies can mingle in there during the day.  When the mammas start wanting to go out to pasture with their friends, I send them out, and, if they want their babies to stay behind, the kidding area serves as a daycare.

It sounded good on paper.

The mammas don’t want their babies playing with each other.  They’re all being super-protective mammas.  I kept the mammas in the barn with their kids, and kicked everyone out when we had a sunny day.  That did not loosen anyone up.

It does not help that the kids can’t tell Meg and Kit (the red mammas) apart from a distance.  The mammas can’t tell Spirit and Bear (the black babies), or Meg’s boys and Kit’s girl (all red), apart at a distance.  Sweetie is fairly lovely about mistaken identity.  Meg and Kit think the kids are doing it on purpose, and they think the kids need to be put in their place.  “I am NOT your mamma!”

For the last week, I have been alternately ignoring or responding to various mamma’s plaintive wails.

This afternoon, I responded.  There was quite a LOT of screaming.

I found alpacas circling the wagons around goats.  Meg standing by the barn, complaining, but not more than usual, one kid by her side.  Kit racing down the hill to the herd, screaming, with occasional glimpses of a kid bobbing along at her side.  Sweetie bawling her lungs out, racing up the hill.  I knew it was wrong when Abbey raced into the middle of it.  Abbey may be a problem child sometimes, but she takes care of her herd before she head-butts them.

From a distance, all I could tell was that it was a really good-looking kid.  So I thought Kit was taking Spirit down to Sweetie.  “Aw, that’s sweet” ran through my mind.  When I got into the middle of it, Sweetie was already back up the hill, but the kid was so confused, he had run to the gate nearest the house.  Yep, he.  It was Meg’s boy.  Sweetie was panicked, trying to get through the scary-alpacas to the wayward kid.  The alpacas were trying to surround him for protection.  He was trying to escape the scary-alpacas.  By the time I got to him, he was so freaked out he ran from me.

My best guess?  He just followed a red goat.  Since she was the wrong red goat, she ran away from him.  “Don’t drink my milk, kid!”  But he kept coming, so she kept running, and, next thing you know, she’s really far away from her own kids.  “MAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”  Since she doesn’t care who’s kid he is, she doesn’t know which mamma to deposit him with.  Since she’s a new mamma, she’s over her head just keeping track of her kids and her hormones, so she had no clue where Meg was.  She just ran to the herd.  And maybe some part of her knew that taking another goat’s kid OUTSIDE, without his mamma, was a bad thing to do.    “MAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”  And then Sweetie thought what I thought – “A kid that good-looking has to be mine!”

Poor kid.  When a baby goat is scared, we get down low and talk calmly to it.  Chasing a scared goat just upsets them.  So I was able to snatch him up, give him a hug, and take him back to mom.  I put him with his mom, and he and the other kid went running in circles, hiding behind things, acting nuts.  I scooped them up and took them back into the barn – with a pack of angry mammas behind me, screaming like banshees.  It turns out, the kid that had been standing with Meg was Kit’s kid!  When I put them down, I didn’t even have to look to see which one had the big adventure; I could feel his heart pounding in his chest.

So I took ALL their kids away from them after a quick sort-out and a suckle of “nature’s valium” (mamma’s milk).  I sent the mammas outside to cool off, while I hugged baby goats.  Which, it turns out, is what the mammas wanted.  They wanted some “me” time away from their kids, but they wanted me to babysit so they wouldn’t worry while they were out kicking up their heels.

I got 4 out of 5 babies piled together in one hut for a nap, and let Spirit climb on me just outside.  Spirit loves her “me” time, too.  Seems she’s been feeling a little vulnerable, and I’m her “safety zone.”  Spirit tucks into her own baby hut to escape the melee – even though there’s no melee in her bonding stall.  As I spent extra time with the babies today, trying to bond them together, I realized that Spirit needs her safety zone.  She would play a tiny bit with the other (smaller, younger) babies, then run back to me.  She mostly just played with me, while the other babies mingled.

So, tonight, when everyone went back to their stalls, I went into Sweetie’s stall and sat with Spirit for a bit,  I sat on a plastic chair and let Spirit flitter around me.  She ducked under the chair and nibbled hay.  So I put her to bed.  And she ran back out of her hut and begged for more play time.  I sat down on the barn floor and gave her a little more huggies, and gave her mom some huggies, too.  It was the quietest the barn has been in days.  All the babies tired out, napping, except Spirit.  All the mamma’s content that their babies were where they were supposed to be.  Sweetie still feeling a little confused at her new home, but happy to get pets while her baby sat in my lap next to her.

Sweetie’s sweet baby

Spiritc

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!

Belated photos

Last time we had BGs, the blog software wouldn’t let me upload photos.  Lest you think this weekends’ babies are the best babies ever, I present to you the Monkeys – summer LaMancha babes.

Hot off the presses (day of birth):

MonkeysFresh

Two days old, climbing on a bale of straw (which is about 2′ tall):

MonkeysFreshlimb

Little troublemaker on the right, little angel on the left:

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Helpy helperton:

 

 

MonkeyHelper

“How do you turn this thing on?”

  So, you see, the most beautiful goat in the world is the one standing in front of you right now.  Because they’re all beautiful.

Meet the new kids

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Photographing goat kids is like herding cats.  By the time you get the camera out, they have either fallen asleep, turned their heads, or discovered some other amazing thing somewhere else that they HAVE to investigate.  Often, that thing is the camera itself.  It’s sooo easy to take a close-up of goat noses.  Whole-baby pictures, however, require careful planning and a steady lap.

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Well, sure enough, the first girl fell asleep, and we didn’t want to wake her, so we just added another goat to the lap.  And he fell asleep.  The third one thought about napping, but decided to stay up and play, so she just elbowed her siblings for a bit and got down.

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Yep, that’s the culprit.  She already looks mischievous.  This other little girl is a looker.  Beauty is not the goal.  But it is a nice fringe benefit.

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(Yeah, I’m not dressed for barn work or photos, but this is what I threw on under a flannel shirt at 4 am when I woke up to check on the newborns.)

Beauty

At this stage, they’re easy to babysit.  They mostly sleep.  Or practice – it literally IS their first day with new legs.  The skinny one is already practicing her hopping skills.

They’ll stay in the barn for at least a day, letting the new Mamma settle into her role while she gets lots of hugs and rubs and “good job, girl”s.  She’ll call to them and learn how to get them to follow her while they learn to recognize her voice.  Because leading baby goats is like cat herding, too.

We reserve all copyrights to our photos.  Even the bad ones.

Pics! Our babies are growing up

KitHoldingBlackberry

Clever baby – she’s holding the blackberry stem down so she can reach the leaves.  Kit in front, Jack in back.

I need a better camera; mine’s so slow it didn’t catch the action – Kit leaned on Jack’s back to stabilize herself while she grabbed onto the stem.  When he realized what she was doing, he slipped out from under her to share her snack.

RhoBG

Rhi has been a complete witch since about a month before giving birth.  She doesn’t have any friends anymore, except her babies.

Mamma's Boy, still

Mamma’s Boy, still

Rho was born with the face of an angel, and he's got the personality to match

Rho was born with the face of an angel, and he’s got the personality to match
Tiny Rho curled up under a heat lamp

Tiny Rho curled up under a heat lamp

Rho

Rho is still a little angel

Tiny Mocha, tucked into my jacket

Tiny Mocha, tucked into my jacket

Mocha

Mocha is probably our sweetest new BG this year. She’ll walk up to us and lean in and curl her body around us – Goat Hugs!

BG Training

Kit napping, Rhodan piled on

A BG is a Baby Goat. They have to be trained. First, they learn that people are safe, not scary. Then they learn that people are nice. We hope for them to learn that we are part of their world, not just farm machines that deposit food and replenish buckets.

You could also call this chore “hanging out with adorable baby goats” or “awesome!” But it is not optional.

So I cuddle BGs (if they’re willing). I hang around the barn, waiting for babies to sniff me. Waiting for them to fall in love with me. Sometimes, it’s a lot of waiting (not unlike my 20s). But I always get my goat!

Now, that picture up there might look like “aw, you’re so lucky!” but it’s actually me being hard at work. No, seriously! I mean it!

I love this part of my job, even on days when it’s stressful to find time for it. So, yeah, I’m so lucky! They are cute as heck, full of joyous energy, and sometimes they’re quiet and cuddly.

That pic – I had Kit cuddled in my lap and Rhodan hopped up, lost his footing, legs splayed, and decided “this is nice” and went to sleep. We didn’t get the picture when Jack piled on, because I have a 3-goat lap and Mocha wanted to be part of the goat pile. The pile collapses when 4 goats try to squeeze into my lap!