Weaning young kids can be an adventure in itself. The goat farmer is called to duty many times to go and save a kid from what that kid sees as impossible situations. All the things a weanling can get into, you wouldn’t have thought would happen in a hundred years.
Take for instance our bathtubs. No, not in the house. Years ago we collected several old cast iron bathtubs that stand up on legs with feet the shape of paws. Back then people were wanting to modernize their old houses and were tossing these tubs out, free to be hauled off. We decided they would be excellent to catch rain water off the barn and shed roofs.
During the dry times, they were also excellent play areas for young goats to run and take flying leaps into and out of, having wonderful times. They also were great to lounge around in, I mean the goats, not me. If any young goat took a leap into a tub, usually they leapt out without a thought. Until, along came weanling Katalina.
In a boisterous moment, Katalina leapt into one of the old cast iron tubs. She was quite surprised about doing it and immediately started pitifully crying. “Oh woe is me. How do I get out?” She kept saying this over and over.
I hurried around the barn to see what kid was crying and found little Katalina, very distraught. I hollered for Lee because Katalina was a bit too heavy for me to lift out of the tall tub. Soon as she saw Lee, she was so relieved. “Oh, save me, Lee. Save me,” she kept telling him.
Soon he had her lifted out and she went hopping off in her merry way to join her friends. That evening I heard a kid crying again. Down I went to the barn and yes, there was Katalina in the bathtub. Once again in high exuberance she had leapt into the empty bathtub and was too afraid to get out.
Lee had gone to the back of the farm, taking the older group of does with him so they could clean up some brush as he worked on firewood. I knew I couldn’t lift Katalina out of that tub, so I did the best I could. I lifted her front end, hung it over the tub, then gave her rear end a push, and she flipped on out. It was like a light bulb had went off in her baby brain. She almost went, “Oh! I get it now.”
The next day I watched the weanling babies going flying around their pen, jumping and playing and then Katalina sailed into the bathtub again. Intstead of being terrified, she did happy little bounces and then leapt out of the tub, showing off to the other babies. They were impressed! It wasn’t long before they were imitating her too and there just wasn’t enough room for everyone to make flying leaps into the tub. That bathtub was packed full of babies.
Then it rained. The bathtub drain got plugged up with debris off the barn roof and soon the tub was half full. I heard a kid crying and there stood Katalina, in the tub, water up to her chest, crying pitifully that she was sure to drown, too afraid to leap out. Once again I lifted her front half up over the tub and flipped her out, both of us soaked now. So now she has learned, if you leap into a tub full of water, you just leap back out again.
Other babies have a habit of sticking their heads where it really doesn’t fit or belong. I went down to the weanlings pen one morning and found Sweetie Jo with her head through the cattle panel at an impossible place, as if she just had to stick her head through to get a better look at the yearlings on the other side.
How long she had been standing there, I don’t know. When she heard me, she moved her rear over to get a better look at me as if to say, “Oh, there you are. A little help here.”
Once again I had to get Lee to help as we pulled the panel away from the post and shoved and pushed until we could pop little Sweetie Jo’s head out of that tight place. What a relief she was okay. That afternoon I walked around the barn and what did I find? You guessed it. Sweetie Jo with her head pushed through the same hole, standing there patiently for me to come and save her.
Well, for goodness sakes. I had to go get Lee and once again we had to pull the panel away from the post and push and shove and twist until we could get little Sweetie Jo’s head out of that impossible place she kept insisting on sticking it. Lee said, “And, you wouldn’t sell this one?” Well, she may not be brilliant, but she was what her name implied, a real sweetie.
Besides, we’re the goat farmers, we weren’t exactly being brilliant ourselves for not protecting Sweetie Jo from herself. We shoved the play house we had bought at a yard sale for $10 in front of that place that Sweetie Jo couldn’t resist, and we never had any more trouble with Sweetie Jo sticking her head where it didn’t really fit.
Then there was Bitin’ Sugar Cube. Yes, she was an ex-bottle baby and she did as her front name implied. You’d be innocently standing there and the next thing you knew, little Bitin’ Sugar Cube would welcome you with baby talk and then take a real chunk out of you. It wasn’t like the nippy nibbles bottle babies will give you at times that sting a little, this was like Jaws that took a horrific bite out of you.
I was walking around their run-in shed and heard an odd sound, like a goat taking its last breath, strangling. I hurried into the shed and there was Bitin’ Sugar Cube with her head trapped where she had pushed a big bucket aside that held their protein block and it had come back to trap her head in such a way that it was strangling her.
Horrified, I got her out of there, rubbed her all over, hugging her, asking her if she was okay. She was a little dazed but walked over to the hay feeder to eat. What a relief. I went back to watering and in a half hour, not paying attention to what goats were around me, I heard happy baby goat talk, and then felt an enormous painful chomp as a kid bit me big time. Bitin’ Sugar Cube! I hugged her and petted her and told her she could bit me any time. I was so glad to see the little girl alive and healthy enough to still want to eat people.
So, the adventures of goat farming and saving weanlings from themselves continues. I’m sort of like those innocent babies, not having a clue. Wishing that a big kid would quit squeezing into the smallest tiniest dog house for baby goats to get warm in and then not able to figure out how to get back out. Maybe when I get her out of it the third time now, I’ll learn instead of expecting the kid to not do it again, just move that dog house out of their pen. Yes, the adventures and learning continue.