Milo was born during the wee hours of Valentine’s Day! He’ll be coming home on Monday the 20th, so watch for pictures next week.
His crib, a large wire dog crate that opens from the top as well as the front, is already bedded with fluffy pieces of blankets. Pieces work best because they’re easier to launder than full blankets, and it’s also easier to adjust the depth of bedding just so. Wee bungee cords secure water and feed cups in two corners. All that’s needed to complete the picture is Milo!
Bottle babies are comforted by plushy toys.
We’ve always placed toy plush animals in our bottle babies’ crib, but I’ve gone a little further this year. I always planned to buy the kind of heat-in-the-microwave-type plushy designed for human infants but never did. When I mentioned this at my Yahoo Groups goat list, we put our heads together and brainstormed an earth-friendly, heat-up toy for neonatal goats, lambs, puppies, and any other motherless animal baby. It’s so simple that even sewing-challenged crafters can make it by hand in an hour or less.
To make one you will need a used plush toy, readily available at yard sales and used-a-bit shops for about a dollar. Since toymakers offer few goat plushies, I used a toy sheep.
I started with a Kohl’s Cares for Kids used sheep.
You will also need a large pair of cotton or wool socks (avoid socks with synthetic content), a 3-inch Velcro closure, and a quantity of clean field corn—not popcorn! Carefully clean the corn, picking out bits of cob and other debris. Snip off the tops of the socks, and use them to make small bags, filling them no more than three-quarters full with clean corn. Make two or more—enough small bags to loosely fill the cavity you’ll make in the plush toy.
Next, I made corn bags to heat in the microwave.
If the plushy has a seam along her belly, open her there. If not, carefully snip a slash long enough to load the corn bags once the opening is hemmed. Pull out the stuffing. Hem the opening by hand. Sew the Velcro closure across the opening. Stuff the bags inside the plushy’s tummy. There, done!
I hand-hemmed the opening I made in her tummy...
and then I installed a Velcro closure.
Now, take the corn bags back out to condition the corn. Place the bags on a paper towel in the microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, then let them cool for at least 2 hours. Place a new paper towel in the microwave, shake the bags well, and repeat the process. Do this once more for a total of three heat cycles, always allowing at least 2 hours’ cooldown time between sessions. After the third heating the corn will be dry, any unwanted critters lingering in the corn will be dead, and the bags will be ready for use.
Here she is, ready for use!
To use the plushy, heat the corn bags on high for roughly 90 seconds — but never more than 2 minutes or you might scorch the corn. Stand by; don't walk away and possibly overheat them. Insert the heated bags in the plushy's cavity, and place the plushy where your baby can cozy up for comfort and warmth. Corn bags this size stay cuddly warm for an hour or two. Use caution if reheating a bag that hasn't completely cooled; don't overheat it and ruin your corn. Keep in mind that this plushy is appropriate only until baby is old enough to actively play with toys; this is especially true when used to comfort puppies.
Much of this information is based on what we learned at the Microwave Corn Bags website's make-your-own-corn-bag page. This site was written by a nurse who makes corn bags for use in a hospital setting. It's interesting reading; don't miss it!
Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including the Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, the Appaloosa News, the Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and the Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and The Backyard Goat. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.