Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NOT my GOOD towels!!! And other small-scale stock keeping dilemmas

We have a stack of old, ugly towels, rags, t-shirts, and bits of unidentifiable cloth collectively referred to as “Dad’s Towels”. They are farm towels, intended to wipe the mud and muck from people and things. We try hard to not use the other towels for mucky jobs. It helps maintain PEACE in our world.

But calving and kidding is messy. Especially when you choose to do it in the cold snowy muck rather than in the warm dry green grass. When you calve or kid early you have to get the baby clean and dry or they die. Sometimes there are not enough “Dad towels” and other get called into service. Usually they survive. This year a couple permanently joined the “Dad Towel” pile. I guess a new set of towels is a small price to pay for all these cute babies.

We are not done with the towels yet. We still have 3 more goats to freshen, and then MUD season. We are also using quite a few towels everyday caring for Angel’s baby.

This brings us to another dilemma, saving Angel’s baby. In the wild the baby would have died. Possibly them mom too, but the baby for sure. Her sister would have lived if the mom lived. That is the way it works. It’s a harsh system, but it works perfectly. I notice that every time I muck it up.

Angel's Second up and running around.

When I was involved with raising beef in large herds I quickly learned that you don’t save bum calves. If mom doesn’t take care of them they are not going to thrive. We bottle fed a bunch of calves to learn this. They never thrived. And even the ones that did reasonably well never recouped the cost in milk replacer and labor that went into getting them to weaning age. We also got rid of cows that didn’t wean a calf. It was an economic decision. But on a small scale, where you know and love each of your animals it is much harder to be so calculating. So, we do this every year. We save a kid who should have died. We put lots more money and time into keeping them going than we do with the others.

Usually they end up ok (it helps that we have lots of milk and lots of willing laborers.) But this year I’m not sure. Angel’s baby still can’t stand. Normally they are up and running around within 30 minutes. (The ones that weren’t got eaten a long time ago.) So here’s the situation. Angel’s baby can’t stand. It’s day three and she is still pretty floppy. She is stronger. She can hold her head up, she moves her legs, and tries to stand, but so far she can’t. So what do I do? JJ spends hours feeding, cleaning, exercising, loving this little floppy bit of goat. We all do.

When she was born that human trait that makes us love and defend helpless, screaming, slimy bundles of life kicked in and I brought her to the house instead of letting Nature take it’s course. How could I not? But now I’m faced with the possibility that she will never be able to stand, walk, or care for her self. As 8 lbs of cute cuddly baby it’s ok. As 130 lbs of smelly goat it’s not so good. It will be interesting to see how it works out…
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