Goat farmers will do amazing things for their goats. We'll stay up all night to help them kid. We'll walk all over the farm to find that missing one. We'll dutifully catch, worm, trim feet, out run them with the grain bucket to feed them, and we'll do this in all types of weather. The postman has nothing on us when it comes to rain, sleet, snow, nor the dark of night can keep us from our appointed goat duties. But, the ultimate test of caring for your goats is when you give up your socks.
Last week we had a weather system come in that was bitterly cold. One night it dropped below zero and inside the barn was barely 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Naturally, three girls decided to kid. The type of cold that had hit that night must have been the cold that had no humidity, or at least not much at all. You could feel the misery of it and the heat lamps just didn't seem to work. They were on, but you would almost have to put your hand on the light bulb to feel any heat. It was bad.
Naturally, the kids came out sopping wet and we were drying them with towels, moms were licking them as fast as they could lick and the kids were feeling like they were turning into popsicles. So, we dried even harder, using up towels like crazy. In spite of this, one little triplet girl, just wouldn't even try to live. She rolled her eyes back and tried to give up. Her brother and sister were doing their best, but we could feel their ears stiffening up, heading towards frostbite.
I grabbed up the frozen little girl who was trying to die and told Lee I'd be back in a minute. I was going to take this one up to the house to lay before the wood stove and I was going to cut the tops out of my socks. What? he asked. I told him I didn't have the right scissors at the barn to cut the tops out of my big thick wool socks now and I had to go to the house and cut them off in order to pull over the kids heads, flatten their ears against their necks in order to keep them warm and prevent frostbite.
Years ago we had to do this during a particularly cold kidding season to save our kids' ears. And, it worked. When the heat lamp no longer seems to be working because of the intense cold, loose tops of socks do the trick. For some reason the mom's accept the sock tops on their kids heads, but it's always good to stick around for a bit to make sure she doesn't decide to peel it off her kid. We've never had one do it, but never say never.
I hurried to the house and put the little girl in front of the wood stove, peeled my socks off and cut off the tops, found another pair to pull on, and charged back down to the barn. We hurriedly pulled the sock tops over the kids' heads. Well, they just looked adorable. Looked like they were wearing turtle necks. And, it worked.
Now, I keep sock tops in both kidding buckets. They have to be loose sock tops, and I cut the arms out of big discounted sweatshirts for a just in case I need a temporary goat coat and have that in the kidding buckets as well. Cut holes in the sweat shirt's arms for the kids legs, and if it's a little boy, cut a big wedge out so he can urinate without getting his coat wet. Oddly enough, the momma goats accept this too, but you always watch to make sure.
And, what about the frozen little girl in front of the wood stove? When I came back inside an hour later, the limp little kid with the cold mouth, cold limp body, eyes rolled to the back of her head, was curled up and happy, looking for her first meal. Oh, mom never took her back, sometimes they will sometimes they won't, but it was just as well. Mom was only two teated and I only leave a kid a teat on mom. It just seems to work out better that way on our farm. No fighting over the udder and cutting it up, no runty kids from lack of getting to the teat.
So next kidding season, make sure you have your baby goat suitcase packed with plenty of roomy warm sock tops and big sweat shirt sleeves for those cold kidding days and nights. Your babies will appreciate it.