Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Goats and Babies

Monday was our outing with the mamas and babies at the farm. We were to pick pumpkins, do a hayride, have lunch together and visit the barnyard animals. Being an animal lover, I was most excited about introducing Joshy to the beauty of farm creatures--he already loves kitties (as long as by love you know I mean loves grabbing them and trying to pull them into his mouth.)
After we each took photographic keepsakes of our little ones sitting in the pumpkin patch with the pumpkin they "picked" we ate lunch. The mommies got pumpkin bread I made (whole wheat, fat-free and vegan of course) and the babies got mushy fruits or boobies.
So most of these babies are crawling or toddling by now. My joshy mainly sits around at these events trying to pull at their pant legs as they whiz by him. So after about ten minutes in the playground joshy was quite restless, as was I. Why weren't we doing that aforementioned barnyard activity? No one seemed to know or care, so despite inviting all the mommy-baby pairs to come with, we treked over to the little goat enclosure alone.
Now one thing I neglected to mention about this farm is that despite the fun that could and was being had there, it was quite commercial. In fact they had so many kids there that day, that they had us all lined up like cattle and had a big old Sharpie-produced sign at each group's corral where they were to leave their belongings (in our case strollers filled with blankets diaper bags and Boppy pillows.)
Thus I was hardly surprised that the barnyard was enclosed by double fencing and we could at best end up three feet from the friendliest of goat making its way to the plastic shoot where for a quarter in a nearby candy machine we could slide out some food pellets for it. It seemed a typical New Jersey "family farm". What did surprise me was the swirling red globe dangling from a goat's backside.
This goat wasn't just having a baby--it was walking in circles as other goats followed, as if they were all involved in some ancient goat birthing ritual. (I remembered reading in What to Expect When You are Expecting that walking can speed up labor,but nothing about getting trailed by your extended family during the actual birth.) Within a few minutes of goat bleeting, a little pile of black baby goat tumbled in a pile. I held my breath for a few seconds--it looked like a stillbirth. But then it shuddered and drew its first breath. Immediately the goat crew went to town de-sliming it. Mom was off--down at the other end of the enclosure. She had another swirling red balloon about to pop.
As if the balloons, goat circling and group amniotic juice party weren't odd enough, after the second goatlet spilled out, a bunch of goats starting sniffing this poor mother "down there", and "down there" was pretty red and drippy I might add. A big one mounted the mom, who had been trying to lick her second kid off, and needless to say, baby two had to settle for the same group cleaning her brother got.
After this awkward post-birth fornication though, baby two got a lot of mommy attention,while baby one was struggling to stand up, still looking quite slimy. A farm worker picked him up to confirm the gender and then just left him alone among the other goats who had by now moved on to do other important goat business. I felt so horrible for this lonely little goat as he stumbled along as we people stared. His mom just kept licking her second baby though, even after the black goat got closer to her. He got a couple licks eventually, but she hovered around goat two even while doling them out.

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