Let me tell you, as it is with any new pet- as you may know, life completely changes and in most cases, revolves around your newcomers. We welcomed bottle-babies Iris and Lottie with open arms, and a vacant mudroom (…we would soon learn that name is ever so appropriate!).
Had it been a warmer April, we would have immediately brought the girls up to their stall in the barn. But since the girls were still so young, still on bottles and recently removed from a larger group of baby goats- we didn’t want to take any chances. It’s extremely important to try to reduce stress, especially with babies- as goats (and most animals) are easily worked up with even the slightest change in routine, let alone a dramatic change such as moving to a new home. A stressed animal can lead to severe health issues capable of threatening their wellbeing (and development) so it’s always best to take the necessary steps at a gradual pace.
We set up their room by first removing anything we didn’t want touched or eaten by a goat- which is just another way of saying we took everything out of the room. We purchased some cheap throw-away rugs from Ocean State Job Lot (with little to no “chew-ability”), cleaned out our old, large dog crate and filled it with stray and hay- and armed ourselves with lots of paper towels (kept out of reach from the babies obviously)!
The first day was understandably stressful for all involved, both us and the girls! It has been about 11 years since we last brought a ‘bottle baby’ home, let alone two! So in some respects, our kid handling was a bit rusty. We were anxious to make them feel at home but knew only time could do that. I will say it is always an interesting experience trying to gauge the personality of an animal when you first meet them.
I would like to say everything went smoothly… and everything was clean, even simple (!) on day
one- but honestly..that’s rarely the case when you care for any farm animal haha! It’s a learning curve for everyone. For example, we couldn’t figure out why Iris wouldn’t take the bottle- she was clearly hungry! Loud and proud that girl is as you will learn.. Turns out, she not only needs a very specific nipple on the bottle but also requires cuddling!!! We kid you not! She needs to sit on your lap and feel your arms on her back before chowing down. We figured this out probably a half hour into trying to feed her for the first time. My mom and I kept asking “why won’t she eat?!” over and over until finally, sweet Iris gave us our answer.
We learned that neither of the girls enjoy being on leashes, yet. Iris would rather be held as you sit in the chair than walk around and Lottie would prefer to dart in every direction aside from the one you want her to go in. However, I was reminded of the pure happiness that is “kids popcorning” (video to come)- there is just nothing like it. If they aren’t the picture of joy in those moments, I don’t know what is. Seeing that kind of energy alone is enough reason for me to continue to bring baby goats to the farm for years and years to come 🙂
That first night we also learned that Lottie is not as demanding as Iris can be, but is certainly just as sweet!! She also gave us a brief moment of concern, as she became extremely skittish (which wasn’t the case when she initially arrived at the farm ~5 hours earlier). We later realized that she was just not her usual self. We expect she was more aware of the changes than her younger sister. I also imagined she was no different than anybody else who has endured a long day and was overtired… inevitably grumpy! Fortunately, Lottie didn’t give us any issues taking the bottle though, and for that we were very grateful haha. After a good nights sleep she was popping around and getting to know us and her new environment with no issues.
Speaking of transitions – it’s always hard to welcome babies that may have been living under different circumstances previously than they will be with you. In our case, Lottie and Iris were used to free-choice milk, grain and hay before coming to Dalby. Sadly we don’t have the same milk-feeder the breeder did and could not provide free-choice milk. This forced us to establish an entirely new bottle-feeding schedule than they were used to. The girls are at the age where we need to start weening them off the milk and encouraging hay/grain. Thankfully, we figured out a reasonable plan to do just this and feel confident they will make great progress in the coming
weeks. We are lucky we have the mudroom (and a strong tolerance for “farm mess” ) to use as their temporary ‘stall’ so they could enjoy free-choice hay and grain in between bottle feedings. Lottie loves her grain, and watching Iris discover Hay for the first time is truly precious!!
I do want to point out, we are SO glad we have two baby goats that will grow up together. If the first few days taught me anything, it’s that these two need each other. Not only have they already established a powerful bond, but they rely on each other for comforts that we (or any human) could not substitute. Goats are social animals and most definitely require at least one friend, so if you’re considering goats- please purchase two+. It will reduce stress on the animal during the transition in the beginning, and will ensure camaraderie throughout their lives. Besides, when you see the way they sleep together, what more convincing do you need?!
It’s only been a week but we already have so much more to tell you about these wonderful girls. I do hope you will follow along as we share even more details from our first week & beyond. Thank you 🙂