Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Big Chill

It is very cold here and the farmer is in a tizzy, trying to decide whether it is better to burst the pipes or burn the barn down with heatlamps. Sometimes it seems like these are the only kind of choices we get to make.

The other day the neighbors called with some kidding problems and the farmer went over to help. Two babies had been born and gotten chilled. Sometimes it is too cold and there is just nothing you can do. In the end, they could only save one.

If you are home alone on a freezing day and some baby goats get born, remember to do things in order and that will help.

1. Make sure the kids are breathing. If they aren't, slap them around like you mean it and puff some air into their lungs. I wouldn't ordinarily say this, but see if you can make them cry.

2. Get them WARM. A baby goat that is shivering will be okay. A baby goat that has stopped shivering will not be okay - do that one first if you have to choose. A wet baby goat that has stopped shivering is going to die soon.

3. If the kid is reasonably warm, and it's breathing, then you can worry about getting some colostrum into it. Okay?

Some farmers have a policy that animals have to stay outside as nature intended, and if they can't make it out there, then so be it. The farmer's friend came over yesterday and told a chilling story of a local sheep rancher - all the lambs are born in the pasture! How barbaric!

Luckily we don't have that policy here, but please don't tell anyone or some of the other farmers might make fun of us. Here our policy is: fleece jackets for the chilly babies and a box full of straw in front of the woodstove, with round-the-clock room service.

Just like nature really intended. Or nature wouldn't have made us so cute and adorable.