John Wesley wrote,
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.
These are words I reread and try to live out loud, even with goats. Julie Andrews gave birth Friday afternoon to two beautiful bucklings. I started calling them Bert and Ernie. Things were fine. I was starting to feel a little better than I had felt earlier in the week. Then, things fell apart. Literally. I awoke Saturday morning to find water under the kitchen sink where a washer from the drain had rusted and separated. I dried everything and quickly realized that we needed new parts. I felt dizzy from the week’s cold (or whatever lovely virus hit me) and I napped for an hour until Jim came home from work. Kelly stopped by and I decided to give the newborns their vaccines (like normal). I noticed that Bert was standing back a little and Ernie seemed to follow Julie Andrews without problems. Nothing unusual.
A trip to Lowe’s and we fixed the worn-out washers and drain. I walked to the barn for one last check of the goats. Bert was in the woods, laying down and looked almost dead. Julie and Ernie were further in the woods. I grabbed Bert, shook him and ran to the house. He made a few audible protestes, but he was floppy, like a wet dishrag. He was cooler than he should have been. I wrapped him in a towel, and we mixed a cup of powdered colostrum. He wouldn’t take the bottle. I force-fed him milliliters of warm colostrum with a dropper.
I called two other goat herders and we talked strategies. This is where a laundry basket and a heating pad become staples on the farm. Scooby sniffed at Bert and each time I would try force-feeding, Scooby insisted on sitting on my lap beside the goat. Wrapped in a towel, I fed another few milliliters of liquid to Bert. He napped and we repeated the process. Let me tell you that 2 am feedings with a baby goat involves a trip outside to potty and a fluffy white dog who insists that he’s a nurse. More droppers full of liquid.
Repeat the process for a 5 am feeding. At 7 am, Jim joined the fun and was able to get Bert to eat almost 2 ounces. I headed out of town for a meeting, with the promise of returning in the afternoon.
I joined my UMW sisters for a quarterly conference meeting and worship. They asked about the goats. I am thankful to be part of an organization that loves me for me…Goats and all.
After lunch, Jim texted a photo of Bert nursing in the pasture. I was elated. Hope soared. By the time I was home a few hours later, she had abandoned him again. Ernie continued to follow her and started showing signs of normal playful 3 day old goat behavior. I found Jim force-feeding Bert. Kelly and I put Julie on the stanchion and I milked a few ounces into a bowl. She would not stand for Bert to nurse.
Farming is not for the faint of heart. Growing up, Daddy warned me to not fall in love with animals because my heart would be broken when they die. Out of the 8 goats we’ve kidded, the countless puppies our dogs had when we were little and of the calves I helped pull into this world, I felt love for all of them. Heartbreak has been another part of the journey. Long nights of sitting up with expecting mothers, sick animals and a possible floppy goat with a poor prognosis, that’s just part of this leg of my journey…to do all that I can.