Friday, July 25, 2008

Welcome To The World, Baby Goatlets

We were practising on the mixing desk at the radio studio when I got the text.

One goatlet out, one to go

It was happening!
And it was twins!
And I wasn't there!

I left R practising his fader technique and leapt in the car to drive back to Red Chilli. Whilst racing back through rush hour traffic I got another text.

The second one is breached. We're trying hard to get it out but it's a struggle.

Oh God - Poor Dave.

(R had nicknamed our heavily pregnant goat Dave for a joke - his sense of humour still has the staff wondering what he's on about sometimes...)

I got back to Red Chilli and raced down to where she was. In between two cottages in a dark earthy patch of garden, there she was. With two babies and a crowd of admiring midwifes - three shambas, one housekeeper, a manager and a guest.

It turns out the other manager had tried to aid the breached baby by slipping a hand in to help it out. But his hands were too big. So he raced up to the bar area to find a non-squeamish guest with slender hands. The poor thing had been stuck with it's little head poking out for nearly half an hour.

After a while of watching them, the firstborn boy goatlet had cottoned on to the idea that there was food inside nipples, but the other, baby girl goatlet, was still shivering and shaking from the exhausting business of being stuck for so long.

Until a Dutch lady called Karin stepped into the breach. Literally.

Light was failing and we decided it would be best to move them to our backyard overnight. They could leave meeting the compound dogs, cats, monkeys etc until tomorrow and just spend a peaceful night in an enclosed space.

The shambas (our gardeners) gingerly picked up a kid each and carried them, bleating away, waiting for Mum to follow. Dave looked momentarily confused, and circled the area where she had just given birth, sniffing the ground for her babies. Then Pascal, one of the shambas, set one of the kids down on the ground for a moment and she recognised his shape and ran after him. In twenty yard bursts of setting a goatlet down, and waiting for Mum to catch up, and then picking them up again to go through the process another twenty yards away, this strange procession eventually made it to our backyard.

There the housekeepers had lain an old curtain or two, and I had added water and some foliage to keep Mum going through the night.

The shambas and everyone else left and I watched the new family of goats for a minute. The second-born was still having trouble feeding. She had worked out, just about, how to stand in a wobbly sort of way, and was jabbing her muzzle in the high recesses of her mother's hocks, too high for the teat which was dangling below. Her brother was a whole stomachful of milk ahead of her at this point and I was concerned she would weaken if she did not learn how to feed soon.

Never having grabbed a goat's teat before, this was a new experience for me, but kinda special. I held Dave's teat and directed it a little higher, level with the little goatlet's hungry mouth. Then I lured her little damp curly haired muzzle closer to the teat by getting her to attach to a finger on my other hand.

It was like what mid-air refueling for airplanes must be like. Three botched attempts and then success - she latched on and started suckling for her life.

I watched over them a few more minutes and then left them to it.

As you can see from the pictures, the goatlets look a lot more acceptable the morning after birth, so we have let them out on their unsuspecting public today. Now tourist are snapping pictures of baby goatlets as well as monkeys.

Hurrah for the Red Chilli Petting Zoo.

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