Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nature vs. Over-Bearing Pet Parent

Ok. I admit it. I am obsessed. But who wouldn't be? Is our baby goat not the cutest thing ever?

So I got home last night and didn't even bother changing - just grabbed the bag of animal cookies and headed straight into the pasture still in my hmpfhp-dollar black pencil skirt from Barney's (at least I wasn't wearing heels).

I gave poor,lonely Elvis some cookies and then went to check on Ann-Margaret and the Nugget. Had a little hang with them in the stall - Mom ate some cookies, the little guy jumped around. But Ann-Margaret didn't seem to be herself - she seemed a bit despondent, a bit quiet and she was pressed up against the door like she wanted out.

I went back to the house, got rid of the cookies, but went back out armed with my camera. Elvis was aggressive - I don't know if he wanted more cookies or access to his girlfriend, but he flat out butted me - something he's never done before. I snapped some pix and once again noticed Ann-Margaret stationed by the door. I didn't have anything to bribe Elvis with to get him in the other stall so I let it be.

Then I noticed Ann-Margaret's poop was clumpy - a sure sign that she might have worms again and I panicked! I went straight back to the house and called the vet and left a "new-mom-I-have-no-idea-what-to-expect" message on his cell phone. It was 7:30.

Since I couldn't leave well enough alone, I ventured back out into the pasture a third time (no - I didn't change). Elvis was still aggressive, but it may have been the trough of sweet corn I was holding. I used it to coax him into the second stall where I locked him in and where he made lots of grunts and animal-like noises as he devoured the generous bribe.

I opened the door to Ann-Margaret's stall and she tentatively ventured out. I had to help the Nugget out because there's a big ledge and at 2 days old he/she couldn't quite manuveur. Well - Nugget just loved being outside. He ran and jumped and frolicked. Tony was out in the pasture and he and Nugget came face-to-face a few times. It was very cute.

It was also getting late and dark but how do you tell a 2-day old goat to get back in its stall? I tried to coax Ann-Margaret with some feed but she wouldn't leave her baby. Meanwhile - Elvis had finished his corn and was bleating and banging about in his stall like a cooped up madman and only contributing to the mounting anxiety in the air.

I returned to the house and grabbed the animal cookies - always a failsafe bribe. No luck, I could not get Ann-Margaret into the stall. Frustrated, I finally scooped up Nugs (no - I didn't check under the hood to see if it was a boy or a girl) and plunked him back in the stall. Well - he didn't like that one bit - being picked up and handled by a human AND separated from his mother - so he started wailing. Ann-Margaret started wailing and running around in crazy circles. Elvis was still wailing.

I was in the stall with the baby trying to get Ann-Margaret to come in. She would come up to the ledge of the stall, sniff Nugs, sniff the animal cookies and then run around the barn some more. It was exhausting.

I finally figured it out and removed myself from the stall. Less than a minute later she hopped in and was reunited with her baby. I gave her the cookies as a reward.

I locked them up safe and then let a stir-crazy Elvis out. I went back to the house and dusted the dirt of my clothes (nice) and my face (how'd I get a dirt smudge on my forehead?) and then sat and worried about if I had disrupted the mother-baby bond.

I had been told to leave them be, let them bond and certainly don't touch the baby too much. Sometimes animals reject their young if they smell foreign. I know Ann-Margaret knows my smell but I worried all the same - especially because it was supposed to drop below freezing last night.

I ventured back one more time (now in the dark) to check that mother hadn't abandoned her child. She hadn't and I breathed a small sigh of relief.

I breathed another sigh when the vet called me back and told me that the clumpy poop was probably because she wasn't grazing and getting enough grass. Phew - I was worried about the return of the worms!

Tonight's experiment? To let mother and baby out with Elvis and see what happens...

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your..