On Thursday, April 27th, a small bundle of joy was left freezing outside in the cold winter/spring mixed weather in my goat pen.
I don’t normally talk about or write about my experiences with my livestock. I am overly attached to my livestock, and I feel like a failure and a bad owner any time I have an animal come down sick or pass away. The local vet has likely made most of their income from me alone.
I was doing chores as per routine, in the evening after work, and I saw a very young nanny walking about with after birth shedding. I assumed I would be finding a dead kid. (Goat kid.) I rushed into the pen, cursing at the nanny as I went, and surely enough found the little baby lying outside in a bundle of straw, soaking wet and nearly frozen. I thought she was dead, but she made the tiniest movement to my surprise. I grabbed a rag immediately and rubbed her down, attempting to dry her off.
My daughter came outside to help me, and together we put the baby in a birthing pen and caught the mother and brought her in. She would have none of it. She didn’t want her baby, she was kicking and fighting, and she nearly stepped on the baby twice. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. I tried to milk the mom goat, and she had not one drop to give me. The baby was a preemie.
My husband got home from his work, and I asked him immediately if he could finish feeding the animals while I struggled with what was at hand. He informed me that he couldn’t, as he’d been obligated into a favor for a family member, and they’d been exclusively waiting for him to get off work so he could go do the favor. I expressed anger, but didn’t object. He left and I was alone with the kids to handle the livestock and this new baby.
We fought with the baby. She wouldn’t suck from the bottle, and was losing strength with every passing moment. I was going to lose her. I’ve lost seven so far this season, and have nine on the ground. I’m only a quarter of the way through. It hasn’t been the best start this year.
My daughter and I tried again taking the baby out to the barn and trying to get the mother to take her. Not a chance. Then we found that another nanny had kidded, and we attempted getting her to take the baby by smearing the after birth over her to give her the new mother’s scent. It was a noble effort, but it too failed.
Last resort. I phoned my father. He and my mother live over ten hours away. But if I need any sort of advice, they are my number one.
It was both a surprise and a bloody miracle to learn that they were within an hour’s distance from our home, and they decided to head straight to us once they got my call. I was a complete mental wreck. I couldn’t hold everything together – I still didn’t have chores done. We hadn’t eaten supper yet. My husband was still MIA.
But my mother and father showed up with smiles on their faces, told me not to worry, and walked into the house with me to look at my baby goat. My mother had her drinking from the bottle in five minutes.
I got a laundry basket and laid towels in the bottom for the little goat. That night we set her next to our bed, and I watched her for a long time before I was willing to let myself fall asleep.
She’s two weeks old tomorrow. I call her “Peewee” now.
I struggle with anxiety every day. I know I’m not alone. I have an acute restlessness that mixes with fear and causes me the inability to mentally, and physically relax in any way. It can be debilitating, and has left me struggling quite often in more ways than one. My husband struggles to understand it, and as a result, has a difficult time helping me cope and deal with it.
Some days the restlessness is so overpowering that I work until I almost cannot stand anymore. I get home, I do chores, I come inside and clean and cook (and often skip eating, as eating makes it only feel worse), and then at the end of the night, if I feel exhausted enough, I can then finally lie down to rest.
Until two weeks ago.
A little goat has come into my life, and she has brought back my laughter. She’s brought back my appetite. She’s brought me the relaxation, of sitting down and playing with her in the living room and laughing while her milk bottle warms up. It’s only for ten minutes at a time. But it’s making a huge difference. It brings back all the memories of when I was a child and we raised goats.
The anxiety still exists. I wake every morning, afraid to look over into her basket. Baby goats are hard keepers, unless they are being fed properly, on time, and are closely monitored. And even then, you can lose them at any moment. I’ve grown so attached to her, that I feel like I need her as much as she needs me.
It doesn’t matter how old I am, or how much I have on my plate, or what responsibilities lie before me. I will never be at my full potential as long as I am weakened by my own anxiety. I must take the time to relax and reset – even if it’s for ten minutes per day while I play with a charismatic little baby goat.