Archive for April, 2010

Ruminations on Tweedle

A Natural

Tweedle is in a new mother’s daze. Newborn triplets are, after all, quite a responsibility for anybody. She keeps them clean and well fed and it takes up all of her time. We could say that she is “settled,” which is a happy situation for her and for me. Once upon a time, Tweedle was unmanageable, our resident barn lunatic.

She was handraised, which usually goes a long way towards making a goat a good barn citizen, but Tweedle was, apparently, the recipient of the ‘crazy’ gene that I find in some of my goats from time to time. ‘Crazy’ in this instance means extremely intelligent, highly reactive, and so, hard to manage — not the best ingredients for a calm barn scene. Typically, I move these types of kids to homes that revel in goat antics, and such was my plan for Tweedle.

She was probably practicing one of the tricks in her repertoire, like bouncing off the barn walls, but however it happened, there she was one morning with her rear leg dangling like it was broken. A goat on three legs can still move pretty fast, but we finally caught her and took her to the vet, who declared the tendon torn and put the leg in a cast, immobilizing it with the hopes that it would repair itself — in six months or so.

So now we had a crazy yearling goat in cast who needed a shot twice a day and just catching her was a job that took two people. It felt like a hopeless situation — we couldn’t send a crazy, gimp goat out into the world. So we kept at it, minimizing as best we could the trauma for her. She was pregnant, of course, which added to both the hope and trepidation we felt for her.

She kid one evening before dusk. I was alone on the farm, doing the evening barn check, and there she was, working on delivering her first kid. It soon became clear to me that this kid was not in a perfect position for easy delivery. I felt a wave of hopelessness; after all, I could never get within five feet of her without her bolting; it always took two people to catch her.

Time is the essence in a situation like this, at least for a positive outcome for the kid. I slowly approached her and in this miraculous moment, she stood perfectly still at my approach. I slipped my arm under her neck for security, support, and stability, and slipped my other hand to the kid’s emerging head, automatically clearing its nose and mouth, working my hand in slowly to find the source of the problem. Not a big problem as problems go, just a foot bent backwards. I straightened it out and she pushed out this giant kid. I ceased to exist for Tweedle as she began to know just what was the most important thing for her to do.

I was apprehensive about the coming battle of milking her but she never flinched, not once, not even in the beginning — as if she was born to to be milked, which, of course, she was. Tweedle is three years old now, with four sound legs, and she has developed into one of the best milking does I have ever had, producing more than one and half gallons of milk a day at the peak of her lactation and a steady gallon the rest of the year. She trusts me to do my job and I trust her to do hers. We don’t socialize – her preference – but we have a solid working relationship. All in all, a much happier ending.

1 comment April 4th, 2010


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