We decided we should just let him go, and for a minute I agreed.
But then my heart took over.
I couldn’t do it. Knowing mama was right there with her udder full, nursing her other two boys, I just couldn’t let him go. Not yet at least. I held Splat up to Willow, gently squeezing her teat toward his mouth.
When I attempt to get a baby to latch on, the right hand holds him under the armpits and any extra fingers grow longer to extend neckward, holding his head toward the flow of milk. The left thumb and index finger tenderly squeeze the teat while the ring, pinky finger and associated side of the palm slightly cup under the teat to cradle the newborn’s chin. The left middle finger assists wherever needed, sometimes with milking, sometimes with chin cradling, sometimes with flicking away a curious farm dog.
In Splat’s case, he did not latch on. Despite milk being squirted toward his mouth and misfired up his nose, he did not have the gumption to do what his brothers had instinctively done. Instead, the milk dribbled into my cupped palm where he slurped up a tiny dose of energy. I laid him back down in the straw.
Twenty minutes later, training resumed. His rubberlegs still did not support him in anything except prone snow angel pose, so I lifted him again to Willow. A few more slurps from the hand, and the appearance of a bit more energy, it was a successful experience, but his future was still uncertain.
I had decided I would not commit to every four hours bottle feeding him, but would support him in eating from his mama during my waking hours. I would let nature decide at night.
And, as it does every day, night rolled around. At bedtime, our 13-year-old and I checked that the five other new bucklings were indeed latching on and eating from their mamas. We gave Splat a drink, noticing that he was able to extend his front legs in a standing posture but the back legs were still uncooperative. He was also trying to suckle. He got more collostrum before bedtime than he had all day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he was at risk of one of the goats sleeping on him, stepping on him or just getting too cold. We curled him up by his brothers and hoped for the best.
The next morning, I found it hard to wait for my 5:50am alarm to go off. Splat had been on my mind all night. It was a school morning, so there were breakfasts and lunches to make and children to drag out of bed and caffeine to ingest. It wasn’t until the teenager was on the bus and the 9-year-old had eaten that he and I went out to determine what the night had decided.
Splat was alive! He still wasn’t standing but had made it throught the night so I taught him how to drink from a bottle. He drank willingly and later that day, stood under his own power.
Every day on our farm brings new experiences, new decisions to be made and new approaches to implement. We have to decide how much to nature and how much to nurture. Now, two weeks later, it warms my heart to see Splat walk, run, jump, nurse and play just like his brothers. He’s still a miniature version of them, but he made it!
– The Goat Cheese Lady and Splat
P.S. As I mentioned in Splat, Part 1, we don’t keep the boys. Of the six that were born on Splat’s birthday, we’ve sold two. At the time of this writing, more have been born and are for sale, including Splat. They are $75 each. Let us know if you want a weed eater, a horse companion or a herd sire. These boys qualify for any of those jobs! You can call me directly if you are interested or have more questions. 719-651-9819.