In the forty years I’ve raised sheep and goats, I’ve never had a spring that I didn’t have at least one to four babies on the bottle. This season so far I have one baby goat that I feed. He is over a week old and was smaller than my grown cats which is small compared to his brother. He wouldn’t get up when he was born a week ago Sunday so I put him in a box and have cared for him ever since in the house. At first, baby sucked just a few sips every 1 ½ hours until last barn check. Then he had to wait until morning for me to feed him. Talk about time consuming tasks. Finally mid week, I stood baby up on his feet. He wavered around and got his balance and has been gettin up on his own ever since. The last couple days, he can down a half a pop bottle of milk four times a day and do it standing on his feet instead of me holding him. Now as soon as the weather warms up, he’s going to his new home in a pen in the barn which I’m hoping is toward the end of the week.
I found out years ago I have a talent for saving newborn animals. What a gratifying feeling when a tiny creature responds to my care. Things have changed so much. When I started doctoring my sheep, I realized I’d have to become my own vet when the vet told me a sick sheep was a dead sheep. The advice was a newborn that didn’t get up right away I should just let die. Today veternairians are school on what to do, but I don’t give them much business now. I already know what to do and if I’m not sure of my diagnosis, I give a mixture of medicines. One vet called that my kill or cure method, but I’m sure my treatment won’t kill and it usually cures the animal.
The middle of last week I made my annual trip with a baby lamb and goat to the nursing home I used to work at. I’ve been doing this each spring for thirty years, and it was fitting that I did it on my late mother’s birthday this year- March 23rd. Mom used to go with me to visit. She loved to make candy so she’d make a large batch of divinity to take. While I showed residents my box of babies Mom passed out melt in your mouth candy the residents remembered making or eating in earlier days. We had fun working together to make a happy day for the elderly.
I have the preparations down pat for transporting my young animals. First, I need a small box just big enough for the babies to stand in but not jump out of. This box has to have the flaps so I can make the babies lay down and shut them in. Today the grocery boxes have the flaps cut off but I keep all the boxes my books come in so I have a ready supply. I tie baler twine around the box so the flaps stay shut. Learned to do that from experience. One time, the lamb and goat stood up, opened the flaps and jumped out of the box. They enjoyed the ride much better in front of the passenger seat, but I worried until we got home. My babies usually get their pictures taken with residents for the bulletin board. They took turns petting the babies until the lamb ducked and the goat butted their fingers. In return, I got the neatest stories about their sheep raising days and an addition to an activity book for nursing homes that I’ve been working.
Just three mothers left to deliver and the long days of up early and to bed late are over. In about 6 weeks my little alarm clock will be ready to wean from the bottle and in the barn where I can’t hear him cry for me to feed him. So what’s next. Garden and flowers. I already have 4 inch tall tomato plants and a few sweet potato plants rooted. We’ve had a few winter green onions from the garden and soon will uncover last fall’s spinach row to see if we can pick enough for a salad. But for now, I’m working on a new book-the sixth in my Amazing Gracie Mystery Series- while I wait for warm weather. That is I try to write until I hear the baby cry.