Through the Fence 4-12-10
I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for orphaned animals. That’s why I never really mind too much when I have to bottle feed goat kids or calves, even when it’s my children’s responsibility. It’s almost impossible for really young orphaned animals to survive, even when they’re rescued, when they haven’t received the life giving nutrients found in colostrum. Sometimes the baby goat kids I’ve found in the pasture weren’t really orphaned at all. When they’re too small to keep up with the others, a nanny goat will leave her baby in high grass while she goes off to graze. When I found one that I thought was orphaned, I’d go back later in the evening to make sure their mamas had come and retrieved them. They were usually gone.
Such was not the case one chilly spring evening when I heard the unmistakable crying of a young kid. Darkness was falling, and I knew if there was a mama goat in that big pasture, she surely would have come for her young one by that time. There were about a hundred of our neighbor’s goats in the field right behind our house, and none of them were anywhere to be seen. I tried to ignore the pitiful cries, but after a while, I had to take action. I told my husband that there was a baby kid out alone away from the others, and if we didn’t move it, the coyotes might find him in the night. We walked down the fence row and found a tiny tan and white goat huddled in the corner in a clump of high grass. I reached through the sagging wires and pulled him back through. He didn’t mind me picking him up but started bawling in earnest when we got in the pick up.
I cradled him in my lap as we drove. He sat still but baaed occasionally. We drove about a half mile down the road and into our neighbor’s entrance. There we found dozens of nannies and kids of every possible color combination. I sat the little fellow down amongst the bleating flock, and he began calling again. One by one the curious goats came up and looked at him and smelled of him. He kept looking and waiting for his mama. He even approached a few nannies and tried to nurse them, but he was quickly rebuffed.
We waited several minutes, but after a while, I turned around sadly and got back in the truck. I could still see the inquisitive nannies cautiously strolling up to check out the orphan. And as we drove away, I could still hear him calling.
I never knew how my attempt at reuniting that orphan with its mother turned out. I tried to be optimistic thinking surely she showed up right after we left. Maybe he lived; maybe he remained an outcast and starved to death. Regardless of the slim odds of a successful reunion, I could never forgive myself if I hadn’t made an attempt.
It reminded me of a story of a bunch of live starfish washing up on the sea shore where a young man and his grandfather were strolling. As they walked along, the younger man would grab a starfish and fling it back into the ocean, knowing that the animals would die on dry land. His wise old grandfather realized that there was no way they could save all the creatures that had washed up on shore. He told his grandson that what he was doing wasn’t going to make any difference. The young man just smiled sadly as
he tossed a starfish back into the bosom of the sea and said, “It will to this one.”
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