BABY MONITORS - BLESSING OR CURSE
Connie S. Reynolds
I havenít quite decided about baby monitors yet. That is, whether they are a blessing or a curse to the goat farmer. I know they are a blessing for the mothers with human kids. They can put the child down for a nap, turn the monitor on, go to another room and do dishes, catch up on work, etc. Soon as that child makes a noise of any kind, they are in there checking on the child. Maybe takes all of one minute to get to the childís room.
Goat farmers using baby monitors is a whole new ballgame. For one thing, the monitor is placed way out at the barn. The barn can be on flat ground a good ways from the house, or be like us, at the bottom of a hill. Thatís one barn, the other barn is along a ridge going the opposite direction. Put baby monitors in both barns and life can get really interesting.
My mom gave us an old baby monitor last year that she had used on the grandkids. It was probably 7-10 years old and it worked great. Clear as a bell even at the distance we had from the house to the barn. Wow. A whole new world opened up to us on what the barn was like when we werenít there.
Click on the baby monitor up at the house and have the monitor placed down at the barn in the area where the does are suppose to kid and you can hear every snort, whistle, thud, burp, and all the sounds the goat can make too. Our local Big Lots store had a sale on baby monitors one week and we bought two Fisher Price models for $14.99 each. They can be hooked into the electric or run on batteries. They have channels A and D and you can put two on different channels, like we did for our two barns, and in the house you can switch back and forth to listen to either barn.
Not only is it fascinating to listen to barn sounds it gets addictive. You leave the monitors on all the time, even when watching TV or have company over. In the middle of a conversation you find yourself shushing the company to hear what is going on at the barn. And the odd thing, sometimes your company shushes you to hear what is going on at the barn. Itís really bad when your company is reluctant to leave for fear of missing the next sound coming from the barn.
Maybe we can blame this type of behavior of eavesdropping on the barn to TV programs such as Survivor, people hungering for "real TV". That is, not watching actors with scripts, but plain olí people responding to real situations. With baby monitors in barns, itís listening to plain olí sounds from a plain olí barns, and itís riveting. That will probably be our next "real TV" program and it will be called "Real Barn."
Anyway, as soon as you hear a grunt from a pregnant doe, you can be at the barn in minutes to check on her. You hear a tiny baby kid cry, meaning itís just been born, you can be at the barn in minutes. I know, I know, you have regular rounds you make to check on the pregnant does, so why use a baby monitor. But, my does are sneaky. I really believe they have a watch and they know my schedule as well as I do and at exactly what time Iíll be coming to check on them. And, as soon as Iím gone, they say, "Hey, we got at least an hour and a half. Letís all kid now!!"
Which is fine if they donít have any problems, but there is always that one time that someone has problems and you really need to be there. With this baby monitor, Iíve got them. I may have left the barn, but I can hear them. I have a few silent kidders that donít make much noise when they kid, but near the end, they all either grunt loudly or at least do one good yell. And, I can hear it over the monitor.
I do have a few tricksters in the doe herd. Girls that get a big kick out of grunting for no reason whatsoever just to see me come running down the hill to the barn. Then they all get together and giggle as they watch me weave back up the hill, slowly trudging from having already made 10 trips to the barn in less then one hour.
Once, a neighbor was talking to Lee while he was working on some fence near the road and asked if I was all right. He thought I was moving very strangely down the hill at that moment to go to the barn. Well, he would move a bit stiff legged too if he had just made fifty trips to the barn and the day wasnít half over. See what I mean about how the monitors could be a curse too?
I have caught a few of the does standing directly under the monitors, climbing up on the barn wall to get closer, and then holler like something was killing them. By the time I got there with my coat half on, a barn boot missing, and looking all wild eyed, they would gently baaa at me that they were out of hay or they had accidentally pooed in their water or ask if it was about time for their grain.
Leaving the baby monitors on at night is a whole new experience. Not only do you pick up snoring goat sounds, but you get to hear what the other farm animals do at night. One night Lee and I levitated at least a foot out of bed when a tremendous catfight broke out at the barn. They must have carefully placed themselves in front of the monitor for it to sound so loud, clear, and ferocious. Itís rough waking up in mid air wondering why you are in the middle of a catfight.
Then thereís Shorty. Shorty is our Japanese barn rooster. Cutest little dickens, all white, extremely little, with long black tail feathers. I had no idea, until we put the baby monitor down at the barn, that he started crowing at fifteen minutes to four every morning. You can set your clock by him. He roosts up high, near the monitor, and you hear this miniature crow, quite loudly, over and over and over and over and... You get the idea.
Also, if you are down at the barn and the baby monitor is on up at the house, you must remember to not talk about anyone who is up at the house. They can hear every word clearly. Like you and your spouse had to leave your company for a moment to check on some sound down at the barn, do not make comments about anyone's hairstyle or bad breath. Bad idea. Trust me. But, it is interesting listening to your spouse down at the barn with the goats. That is when you find out if they really do like goats or are just putting up with them for your sake. Once Lee went down to check on a pregnant doe and a bunch of weaned kids heard him and tried to break down the door to get to him. He had to go in and call them sweet little babies, hug a few, pet a few, and spend a few moments just playing with the kids. It was a lot of fun hearing a big man go all soft over some sweet little kids.
And then thereís this... Wait a minute. What was that? Did you hear that? Gotta get to the barn fast!