Friday, April 20, 2012

Sue Weaver: Raising Milo, Part 6 — New Siblings!

The Raising Milo saga took a new turn when I was given a set of preemie kids by my goat enabler-friend and Milo's breeder, Emily Dixon.

Milo didn't like his new siblings at first, but
now he plays with Jimmy and Esme quite well.

Emily bought a load of alfalfa and clover mix hay that turned out to be infected by deadly, invisible alfatoxins. In a goat keeper's worst nightmare, three of her goats died and a dozen more hovered near death for many days. One of these was a young doe, Olivia, who was heavy with her first kids by Emily's LaMancha buck, Dune. Since Olivia is a LaMancha and Nubian "Experimental" (the American Dairy Association's designation for goats with parents of two different registered breeds), her kids would be Experimentals, too.

Olivia went into labor almost 2 weeks early and couldn't deliver them because of weakness and the fact that the kids were tangled in her uterus. Emily got them sorted out and pulled: a little buckling and, to her dismay, a tiny doeling with malformed teats. Without the added strain they put on her body, Olivia began to improve as soon as the kids were delivered. She recovered, but what to do with her kids?

Katy, my Alpine, who is meeting the kids for the first
time, is pictured here with Doughnut Jimmy. I imagine
her thinking,"Child, what happened to your ears!"

Emily, whose finances were already strained as she bought and administered pharmaceuticals and nutritional boosters to save the rest of the herd, would raise them as she does excess bucklings, until they were ready for the freezer or a meat buyer bought them. When I heard, I said we would take them instead.

So a pale orange and white buckling and a two-tone-grey, white, and tan doeling with wattles on their necks and strange elf ears, came to live with Milo. I named the buckling Doughnut Jimmy and the doeling, Esme, following this year's Terry Pratchett Discworld series naming theme.

 Esme was a wee little thing.
Jimmy was bigger but still quite small.

Milo was not amused. He clearly didn't want to share his home and humans with a set of interlopers. At first he butted them when I took them for runs in the yard. Eventually, he relented.

Milo and Esme

So now there are three goats in our kitchen and living room. Sometimes it seems like three too many. Milo has the usual baby crate in the kitchen, while Jimmy and Esme share an enormous wire crate along the opposite wall.

Fortunately, Milo was well housetrained by the twins' arrival, so it was monkey see, monkey do. I'd carry Jimmy and Esme to the yard, set them down by Milo while he peed, and they'd happily join in. They don't, however, have the house ethic that Milo does. He would never pee or poop when loose in our house; they don't care. But just not messing in the crate is a big help, and they caught on to that right away.

I fixed them up a large, safe pen in the yard for use through the day, furnished with two large doghouses and plenty of stuff to play on. I planned for all three to use it, but amazingly (the fence is almost 4 feet high), Milo jumps out.

Today the twins are 4 weeks old. Jimmy is now as big as a normal kid his age, while Esme is still a bit frail. But they're in for the duration. Just what I needed: more goats!

Read the earlier posts:
Raising Milo, Part Four
Raising Milo, Part Five

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.

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