Weaning time comes with similar but different problems each year. Yesterday we turned out around 20 weanlings from the barn into their large pen with a big run-in shed. Now, some of these kids were bottle kids that had been kept up most the winter, others had been kept up with their moms because their young moms would not have the prestige in the big momma herd to get in to eat the large round bales easily with their kids. Only the bossier mommas were out this winter with their kids because they and their kids would easily survive the artic blasts because they would get to the best eats and find the best places to shelter.
So, around twenty kids got turned outside for the first time in their lives yesterday to see the world. Now after this group gets accustomed to their huge world, then the kids who had been out all winter in the run-in shed with their bossy moms would be turned out of their stall where they are being weaned. I wanted the innocent first time kids to get accustomed and established before the more worldly kids were turned out.
If the kids that knew the area were turned out first, they would have been thumping on the innocent kids who had never seen the outside world before. It would be a totally uneven match that way.
Once again the bottle kids helped in a huge way to help the other barn kept momma kids adapt to the new world. Lee and I took turns staying out with the kids, walking them around to show them where their building, round bale, water were, and all the neat places they could run and play. The bottle kids obediently followed us around, with the other bug eyed kids following the bottle kids, thinking the bottle kids knew what they were doing. They didnít, but the bottle kids trusted that we knew what we were doing, and we did.
Oh, there was a lot of hollering going on the whole time. The kids had to make comments about their new surroundings all the time, and at the top of their lungs. Thatís just the way excited kids do. Plus, they couldnít help themselves, so much room! They all would take off running and bucking and basically running into each other. They had problems with making turns. At first they didnít know how to stretch out and run. They had been in big stalls all winter and they mainly bounced up and down around the stall for exercise. With this big pen, they basically bounced like pogo sticks at first everywhere. It was the funniest sight, then they realized they could stretch out and really let Ďer fly. Which both scared and exhilarated them, all at the same time. Naturally, some really top notch yelling had to go with this exercise. They were having a ball and then they all had to run back to us to make sure we were still there.
While walking around with the newly released weanlings, one thing you learned quickly was to walk solidly. Donít be caught with one foot up in the air, in the middle of taking a step, when they all ran back to you. They can bowl you over before you know what happened.
But then, when carefully shuffling along so as not to pick your feet up too high and be upended, the kids will try to push between your legs to continue their run, or start a run, if a running fit suddenly overcomes them. So, to keep from getting knocked end over end when they push between your legs to continue a run, you find yourself walking spraddle legged. A bowlegged cowboy would not have had anything on me, the way I was walking so kids could fly through. No wonder neighbors and people who drive by are a little nervous around me. But, I have good reason to act the way I do. Itís basically trying to survive weanling kids.
Then of all things, that afternoon it started raining. Fortunately the kids had gotten comfortable with their new huge accommodations and were wandering around, every now and then doing an occasional run or leap, while I was in the barn working. The rain hit and I heard the worse screaming rise up from the whole group. I ran out of the barn to see all of them running helter skelter, screaming for help. The sky was falling on them!
I ran into the pen yelling, ďBabies, babies, babies.Ē and they all ran to me and then we all charged to the run-in shed. They were vibrating, they were that scared. Big bug eyes looking up at me, climbing and leaping on me, just totally rattled. Poor little things, they had never been in a rain before. Now, they knew to run to their shed. Of course, climbing up on me and leaping off me in their hyperness at being rained on, I quickly became a spotted mess. Mud and poo spots all over me. Well, whatís a goat farmer for, but to get spotted up every now and then.
But, they settled down as I sat in the run-in shed with them. Lee came along and sat too and they were thrilled to have new clothes to climb on and tell him all about the sky falling. Eventually, these sweet little dickens will go out on the hillside by themselves and you would have never known they had started out being barn goats. They are great little adapters.
Well, itís time to go and do the bowlegged shuffle and check the babies water and hay and give everyone a hug that thinks they need a hug. Itís a good life for all concerned.