Well last weekend went a little bit differently than I expected..
A WhatsApp message appeared the Friday night before last to ask our little group of neighbours for help. Turns out Luis who runs the goat farm up at the top of the hill had some kind of heart event and was in hospital.
Not only that, but there was a motorbike/buggy event taking place on Saturday and Sunday, so my neighbour asked for volunteers to go up and help out.
We had to check all the goats were in the corral, and check on the 2 horses and 2 donkeys that are also kept up there, to make sure they had enough food and water and were away from the roads.
When arrived at around 9am (3 of us in a car with masks on, and me with a bit of a hangover from quiz night) we were met by Luis’s uncle and best friend. They’d been there a short while and said the motorbikes were due to pass the farm at around 1030/11am.
First up, we noticed a few of the bigger goats had escaped, so we rounded them up and tried to patch the holes in the fence to stop any more following suit. We needed to keep all the animals off the road where the event was passing through.
We were told that one goat had had 2 kids the day before, but we only found one inside with the mum. Someone outside spotted the other one, sadly lying dead on the grass at the side of the corral. The other one wasn’t in great shape, huddled forlornly by the back wall inside.
He looked very weak and was just curled up in a little dark ball. The mum goat hadn’t had kids before, so thoughts were that she accidentally left one baby outside and didn’t know what to do with the other one.
We looked around for a bottle to help the baby, and one of the guys decided to head back down the hill to get one. Meanwhile my neighbour started trying to milk the mum goat and encouraged the little one to suckle a little. He did drink, but not very much. I also noticed his back legs looked a bit wobbly and he wasn’t standing up well on his own.
Next thing we knew, someone shouted from out in the corral. Another goat had just gone into labour, and as we got out there two more baby lambs plopped onto the floor. All hands on deck!
My neighbour and I grabbed hay and started to wipe the gunk off the babies. She then picked them up and instructed me to take them off her inside the barn. So I crawled and scrabbled through the hole that the goats use to access the barn, and reached out my hands to bring them in.
They were slimy, but bleating and wriggling around and seemed really healthy. We popped them in a small enclosure in the barn to stop them getting trampled by the bigger goats and the mum goat happily trotted in behind them.
Then I had an idea, why don’t we put the poorly baby lamb from the other mum, in with these ones so that maybe it could be looked after by the more experienced mum. It worked! The not-so-well baby goat got covered in the albumen and gunk from the other two newborns, and so the experienced mum started cleaning him and trying to encourage him to get up, as if were her own.
The guy with the bottle arrived and my neighbour grabbed experienced goat mum by the horns so that I could try to milk her. I had no idea what I was doing, and goats udders are big! Plus, there was still lots of afterbirth literally hanging around under there….
I just couldn’t get any milk to come out, so I traded places, and my neighbour took up the baton so to speak. A little milk went into the bottle, but we just couldn’t get the poorly baby to drink, so we stopped for a bit.
While we were stood by the barn door chatting, another mum goat turned up, all soaking wet from all the rain, with yet another baby goat in tow! It was like she was waiting for us to let her in, so we hurriedly set up another small enclosure for these two and brought them in. They shook off the rain and settled down quite quickly.
The guys think maybe she’d given birth the night before out in the woods (another escapee!) and the weather had been awful.. I bet she was glad to get her and her kid indoors to some nice dry hay!
The motorbikes came and went, the rained continued all day with a mix of hill fog thrown in.
Next was time to go and check on the horses and donkeys, who were in a scrubby field a way down a dirt track.
It didn’t look like they had much food, so we brought them up to the field opposite the barn, water buckets and all, and set them up with some tree cover.
This guy is called Golias, he’s an impressive lad with massive ears and a really shaggy coat.
Once that was done, it was time for me to head down the hill. I’d had no lunch save for a chocolate chip cookie and some water. It was pushing 4pm.
My neighbour stayed up there while her partner drove me down the hill. He was also off to collect a woman who might be able to help the poorly baby feed a bit more.
I went home and had a well earned shower and some food.
News came later that evening that the lady had managed to get poorly lamb to feed a bit more (hoorah!) so it was looking more promising that he might survive.
Sadly next morning when we went back up, that wasn’t the case. He didn’t make it through the night 😦
However, the other three were doing really well.
At just 24 hours old, these two were dry and woolly to touch, bouncing around and walking a fair bit, plus they were feeding the whole time, so that was good to see!
We buried the poorly boy next to his sibling and make sure to cover the site with lots of heavy stones so the foxes wouldn’t dig them up 😦
A few days later I got a message to say that Luis was out of hospital, which was great to hear. Although he’s been told to take it easy.. we’ll see how that goes!
I’m keen to see how my little friends are doing up there, especially now the seasons are changing. I’m planning on taking up a big bag of carrots and apples on my next visit 🙂