I did drive to Milwaukee during the day to deliver eggs and cookies for the gift baskets and pick up cats, presents and luggage from Jen's ... they couldn't fit their Christmas stuff, cats and 4 people in a Saturn Ion for the trip to my place later in the evening.
All this because, when I went to close up the barn on Monday, Dec. 23, at about 4:30 pm, I heard a squeaky voice as I walked into the open side door .. found two baby goats, mostly cleaned off, but damp and ears folded and frosted together.
Vera, their 9-month old mom, looked confused and not sure what to do with them, so she went over to her mom to nurse for a bit ... yikes!
I got a heat lamp and towels to finish drying off the kids, but once I found their ears were frosty and one seemed to be struggling to breath I made the executive decision to bring them in for the night to thaw by the wood burner.
Temps outside were going to be subzero.
After getting the kids settled in a basket by the wood burner and finishing barn chores, I milked Vera (she was not sure whether I should be doing this, so wasn't totally cooperative) for cholostrum (first milk) and got about 4 ounces; she put her foot in the milking bowl only once.
In the house, the cats were looking puzzled at the new kids in the cat basket and wondering what the heck was going on now. The baby goats were smaller than most of the cats .. and they didn't smell like cats. After filtering the colostrum into a baby bottle, I tried feeding the bony, leggy little handfuls of fur. The big brother (white with black spots around his eyes) took to the concept of food right away. The smaller little guy (black with a tuft of bright white on top of his head), who I wasn't sure was going to make it through the night, didn't get the concept of sucking right off. After trying several different times, he figured it out and drank with gusto.
I wrapped presents until about 1:30 am.
The babies got up periodically during that time, sometimes stumbling or falling out of their basket and trying to take some faltering steps, sometimes just calling loudly for more food.
It was freakishly cold by then and I was not going out to milk their mom again.
Besides, I did not want them to get used to me feeding them from a bottle.
In the past I had a newborn baby goat, Cam, in the house over night and he did fine with just a few ounces of cholostum. Cam is pictured with his mom Sophie in the Farm Journal header photo ... that's another story.
Cam had also been so quiet I checked periodically to make sure he was still breathing.
Not so with these two newborns.
They yowled loudly for 5-10 minutes every 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
At 4:30 am, I decided I was not going to get any sleep anyway, so got dressed and trudged out into subzero weather to drag ... literally ... Vera through the snow and into the basement to feed her kids.
Fortunately, Vera, although very unsure of being in the house, was glad to see her kids and sniffed and licked them.
I placed them under their mom, pointed in the right direction and hoped natural instincts would kick in.
The little guy figured this out pretty quickly, but his bigger brother kept heading for me and trying to nurse from my pant leg.
Eventually everyone was working out the mother/child relationship ... in my basement.
I had not had enough sleep to chance driving at night and couldn't leave 3 goats unattended in my basement for more than a few hours, so drove to Milwaukee during the day to help put together gift baskets and pick up Jen's family's stuff.
I probably should not have been driving at all, but with Agatha Christie on CD, the 2 hour drive each way went pretty well.
Maybe the 2 baby boy goats should be called Kris and Nick (as in Kringle and St.) ... too soon to pick out an APT Shakespear play for names this year.
Hoping to put the goats in the barn today with a heat lamp and some kind of 4-sided shelter ... may need to look into buying a hanging heater of some kind.
Heaters in barns make me nervous, but don't think these will be the only babies that show up this winter and goats in the basement is no good ... this was not suppose to happen.