This is a story I have been meaning to write for a long time but I am just now sitting down to write it. It is the story of a goat kid that I gave up on however, Colton did not.
Holly was born a twin to one of our favorite does, Reeses on April 29, 2020. Reeses had always been a good mama and taken care of her babies without any help from me. This time though, she wanted nothing to do with the pretty, little milk chocolate colored doeling laying on the ground.
After a closer inspection and attempting to get the baby up to nurse we discovered that her back legs didn’t work. I am a firm believer that animals know when something isn’t right with their babies and their instinct is to just leave them to die. We have seen this several times on our farm – survival of the fittest.
Colton was upset and wanted to know if there was anything we could do to help her. I will admit I am not patient enough to dedicate time to rehab animals like this and most of the time I take the side of nature will do its thing. I told Colton if he helped me get her some colostrum he could try to save her.
Getting Reeses to let her nurse was easier said than done! Animals are smart and they know when you are trying to “trick” them into doing something they don’t want to do. In order for Holly to nurse, I had to hold Reeses in the corner against the wall with my body and hold Holly up to her udder while Colton helped her find the teat to nurse. Thankfully Holly was able to get enough colostrum to get her digestive system going.
We put her in a little pen with her brother and mama hoping Reeses would take her. After several checks, it was obvious that Reeses wasn’t going to claim her. It was also clear that her back legs weren’t starting to function yet. So we did what I always say I won’t do, and brought her into the house.
Colton fixed up a little box with a towel and we milked another goat so we could start feeding her a bottle. We put a milk jug of hot water in the box with her several times a day to imitate the warmth of laying against her mom. He was told that he would have to care for her and work with her back legs by moving them in a walking motion several times a day. At the time Colton was only 8 years old but agreed to care for and exercise her.
This went on for a day or two, the goat in my kitchen or garage depending on the temperature, with Colton caring for her by bottling feeding, cleaning the box out, and doing therapy with her legs. By the second day, it didn’t look like she was making any improvements so I asked Lance to “take care of her.” I know this sounds harsh and cruel but the reality is that without the use of her back legs, she would not have had a healthy or good life. It is also expensive to feed a goat that never gives you anything back in the form of kids to sell, meat, or milk.
We decided to give her another day or two with Colton’s therapy. The next morning, we woke up to her STANDING in her box hollering for her bottle! Needless to say, there was a very excited 8-year-old in our house that day! It was amazing to see her move around like a goat should and not just lay there with limp legs. I wish I had taken photos but I really didn’t think she would make it so I didn’t take very many.
Holly got to stay in the house for another day until it was obvious that she wanted to move around more than the box would allow her to. So we moved her back out to the barn with the rest of the goat kids. We attempted to get Reeses to take her again but even after forcing her to let Holly nurse several times she still refused to take her. It didn’t matter to Holly though since she was used to a bottle, she was just happy to be with the other goats and it didn’t take long for her to start running and playing.
Holly grew at the same rate as the rest of the goats. Her confirmation or structure is definitely not the best in our herd but Colton took her to the fair anyway because he was so proud of her. When she was a year and a half old we put her in with the buck to get bred. Unfortunately, she didn’t breed that year and once again we had the conversation about not being able to keep a livestock animal as a pet because they have to be contributing something to the farm.
After a couple of conversations with Colton, it was decided that we would give her one more chance to get bred the next year. Thankfully, this spring she had a pretty, black and white doeling we named Ivy. Holly was also the best milker we had this year. If you visit our ranch store here on our website, Holly’s milk is in our Goat Milk Soaps and Lotions. Obviously, Holly and Ivy are now favorites and will always have a place in our herd.
Colton has reminded me several times that he has saved Holly twice now when I was ready to give up on her. I had to admit that he was right and that maybe I would listen to him next time he thinks we should try a little longer with an animal. Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned that lesson well but the story of Snowy, the lamb, is for another day…..