Posted 01-22-2004 at 03:48:26
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Cookie, one of our nanny goats had her babies yesterday evening. One black with white spots, and the other the exact opposite. One with long floppy ears like her mom, and one with little tiny La Mancha ears like the billy.
When we went out to feed, we found her under an orange tree in the grove, the babies still soaking wet and blinking in the bright light. Since I have two more nannies that are ready to go any minute, I decided to move all the nannies and babies into the hen yard, where Baby is with her new kid. The hens didn't know quite what to think of the intruders, but after a minute or two, goats and chickens alike settled down and had their dinners.
It was then that I realized I had a problem. Donkey, a dwarf nanny, who is big and pregnant and due any minute, had gotten it in her head that one of Cookie's babies belonged to her. I watched as she sidled up to Cookie and walked between her and the little black baby and steered the baby off to the side and began licking it, while Cookie went to hollering her head off at the blatant thievery.
"Donkey! That's not your baby!" I scolded her. "Yours will come in a day or two." I picked up the baby and put it back with Cookie. "Now you leave her alone!"
No sooner did I get the baby back with her mother, than Donkey used her little cutting technique, and had the little black baby separated from her mother again. This time, steering it back toward her bag where the baby began to suckle her. The problem? Well, other than the obvious fact that Donkey was outright stealing, that little baby needed to be with her mother where she could get the colostrum she needed.
"Well you....sneaking little so and so." I said. I tried to get a little bit more direct and this time grabbed Donkey and pulled her away from the baby, and then stuck the baby under Cookie again. The baby didn't seem to care which bag she went after, she just wanted to eat, so she began to nurse Cookie this time.
Not only did Donkey steal her again, she forcefully knocked the baby down and when it got to it's feet, she began to nudge it over to the fence and this time she and Cookie got into a little head butting.
There was only one thing to do. I grabbed Donkey and started to drag her toward the hen house. I was going to have to lock her in for a few hours to give Cookie and her babies time to bond or I was going to end up with one very confused little baby.
Donkey probably weighs about seventy pounds right now, since she's pregnant, and she seemed to have an idea what I was fixin' to do. She dug all four feet into ground and pulled back with all her might, so that dragging her felt like dragging a tank. She hollered and she yelled and she called out to the baby, who stood between her and Cookie, gazing out into the pasture with no idea of what to do.
I finally got Donkey into the hen house and locked the door. She immediatley began ramming the wooden door with her horns, trying to break out. Her heart rending screams could be heard for miles. If I didn't know better I would have sworn that I had separated her from her own kid. I spent the next thirty minutes repeatedly putting the little black baby under Cookie, and stood there and watched to make sure Cookie was cleaning her and that she was allowing the baby to nurse. Satisfied, I went into the house for my own dinner.
When I went out to check a few hours later, Cookie was tending to the baby. They had had that two or three hours that they needed to bond. Cookie and the kids seemed to have fallen into the proper pattern... the two babies snuggling together and Cookie standing over both of them and nuzzling them in turn. I decided it was time to go ahead and let Donkey out and see what happened.
I walked over to the hen house, which had grown quiet, and unlocked the door. The minute the door flew open Donkey bolted out and went straight for the little baby again. This time, I didn't need to intervene. Things had fallen in to their natural order and this time Cookie stood her ground and drove Donkey away on her own, and even though I can't speak goat, her message was clear.
"Leave my baby alone!"
Donkey finally seemed to have gotten the message and it clearly broke her little goat heart. She couldn't have been more dejected if she had delivered a stillborn kid. She stood by the fence and stared at the happy trio and bleated softly, her heart in her eyes.
I walked over to her and petted her and wished with all my heart that I COULD speak goat so that I could reassure her and let her know that she would have her own babies in a day or two.