Once again, a strange thing is happening on Autumn Farm, the sky is falling. At least, that is what the baby goats tell us. Every year we kid in winter and if the winter is very bad, many of the mommaís and babies are kept in the barn. Some are allowed out to take shelter in the run-in sheds, but if itís really bad out, the main lot will stay in the barn until reasonable weather shows up.
Reasonable weather is 25-30 degrees and not a lot of sleet and snow and not arctic fronts. Sure, we have great run-in sheds for shelter, feed free choice good hay, grain, protein blocks, and they are closely watched over, but when itís severe outside, the moms and kids just arenít allowed to go out.
Plus, on top of that, we always have a big group of bottle babies. They arenít allowed out either. So, at times we find ourselves going into weaning time with the whole gang still inside. The moms are then put out in the run-in sheds and the kids are kept in the barn, again.
Finally, the day arrives when the moms are dried up and then moved back to the big herd. If a good dry day, not too cold, comes around, we allow the kids to go outside to the big run-in shed close to the barn.
Usually they are tee-totally baffled. They are finally outside. They had thought the entire world was as big as the inside of that barn. Now, here is where the bottle babies take over and shine their stuff. They totally trust us and when Lee and I walk around the barnyard and go into the big run-in shed, they are close at our side. This causes the momma raised kids to follow them. They figure the bottle kids are in the know and knew what was going on.
We would stay with them a good while. In fact, the next couple of days, and for a week or two, we would be with them a lot to show them the ropes of the big outside world. The kids started getting relaxed and then thrilled with the big outside world. They discovered they could run full speed with plenty of room to make turns and to take off again. Now, sometimes they tripped over things because a lot of them hadnít got into jumping yet, but they quickly caught on.
One little girl became fascinated with her ears bouncing from side to side as she did a jumpy type run, swinging her head from side to side. Those big ears of hers bounced back and forth. She reminded you of a little girl that was wearing pig tails for the first time. She loved slinging those pigtails from side to side. Thatís what this kid was doing with her ears. It was a hoot to watch.
She would come bouncing by, swinging her head, those ears swaying from side to side, and just be thrilled with it all. You could almost hear her singing, ďIím a prissy prissy little girl, just watch my ears swing from side to side.Ē Once they all got over the bigness of the world, they thought the world was indeed a very grand place.
Until that one day, it rained. I was in the house and heard the uproar over the barnís baby monitor, kids screaming in terror. I looked out the window and saw kids running in circles, screaming, as the rain pelted them.
I hurried down to the barnyard and yelled, ďBabies! Babies! Follow me!Ē and off we ran to the run-in shed. I sat down on a turned over empty molasses tub and they all gathered around me sobbing, ďIt was terrible, Connie! Wet things dropped from the sky and attacked us! We are all wet now. Oh, no, itís the end of the world! The sky is falling!Ē
It took a lot of petting and talking to get them settled down. I had to run down to the barn several times that week to save them from the falling sky. When I had to run errands in town, I locked them in a stall in the run-in shed so they wouldnít be caught outside when the sky started falling again.
Finally, they started catching on. When that sky fell, they were to go to their run-in shed. They didnít need me to lead them. Through their terror, they realized when the wet sky fell, babies were suppose to run to the shed.
So, they went from shrieking and running in circles when it rained, to shrieking and running behind me, to shrieking and running to the shed without me, to mainly just stampeding to the run-in shed. Weíve had a big improvement in their bravery. After all, how many of us would be brave enough to handle the sky falling? I have a feeling that the sky falling is going to happen again and about the same time next year, too, with the next batch of babies.