It was a long, dark, sleepless night.
I kept vigil with the ailing little goat kid; she literally just drifted in & out of consciousness, her life hanging on by the most tenuous of threads which at any moment, was to be broken by Fate.
she did her best; & tried to struggle on.
I snuggled up beside her in front of the near-stifling warmth of the fire; but other than the small suckle of 100mls of colostrum I’d persuaded her to take – literally in tiny sips – she was just too weak to accept anything else. My determination did not dwindle but my hopes for her survival, did.
Exhaustion ultimately sent me into a fitful doze for moments at a time; but there was, tragically, no appreciable change at each fretful jolt awake. Eventually, just before dawn, I sat beside the slender, silent, spent little slip of a goat-girl, sorrowfully stroking the sad, soft chocolate curls of her head, left with the cold comfort that there truly was absoluely nothing more, that I could’ve done for her.
And yet that courageous, fragile little heart strived to beat even harder; if only to lift the painfully thin, weak neck….connected to that all-too-heavy head….one last exhausted gesture of thanks, for my tireless & even now relentlessly determined efforts.
But if she could at least manage this – how much further out of life’s muddy gutter & towards the pristine stars, would she manage to reach…? Exhaustion brushed aside, I carried on with my efforts to help her cling to life. And cling, she thankfully did: as by mid-morning she’d managed a further couple of 100ml feeds, gaining strength with every sip. Before long she could lift up her head & hold it, unsupported; although she was still far too weak to attempt to stand. She’d hopefully get there in her own time; it was a miracle she was alive, at all.
As the day progressed she started to take an increasing interest in her surroundings, & by lunchtime she was making determined efforts to attempt to stand. Fascinatingly, each time she found she couldn’t quite yet do something, she’d strive to a certain point; then tuck herself to sleep for a little while after which she’d resume her efforts – & invariably, succeed almost immediately on waking. It was almost as if, on finding her ‘strategy’ wasn’t working, she’d snooze; analyse; find a possible solution; & try it out as soon as she woke – absolutely fascinating.
Initially I had to support her, to help her stand; but clearly, once she was up on her shaky little legs she was determined to stay there, & adopted a furious little routine before attempting each & every new goal: a waggle of the tail; a shiver of the body; a shake of the head, & she’d begin. She adopted a method of ‘moon walking’; initially not being able to manage forward motion she’d slide her feet backwards, unable to even pick them up. Her rear legs frequently parted company with the front ones; & like Bambi on a skating rink, she’d furiously try to correct her wayward limbs which kept whizzing to all corners of the compass.
But eventually she did manage to sort herself out; & her determination increased with every new small, shaky, progressive step – for her, conquering each goal was a giant leap forward. By the end of the day she was managing to walk, unassisted, albeit rather like a little automaton; sliding her feet in opposite pairs across the carpet in a forward shuffle, walking around me in a stiff little circle, just to prove to me she could. And as her confidence increased, it seemed that so too did her appetite with more & more milk being consumed at every feed.
Tony came home from his trip to Sierra Leone later in the evening than anticipated; they’d had to divert the flight to Gran Canaria owing to a medical emergency on board; & were subsequently further delayed as a protestor had broken through the perimeter fence at Heathrow, which effectively halted all aircraft movements until the individual was apprehended & his rucksack blown up in a controlled explosion (just in case). So Tony too, was exhausted after a long day; but thankfully arrived bearing fish & chips, as I just hadn’t had time to cook anything nor even to ‘top up’ the Magic Cauldron, what with looking after little Bechan as well as caring for all our other charges, & having to hand-milk all the new mums.
He was delighted to see the little goat however; especially as by the time of her late-evening feed she was actually managing to pick up her feet, rather than just shuffling although with her incredibly long legs, painfully thin body & underdeveloped muscles her progress has proved far slower than that of her robust sibling, who spent much of the day bouncing around his pen in rude health.
After the meal I headed off to bed, exhausted after a very eventful 24 hours. And it wasn’t over yet; as of course I’d have to get up every little while during the night, to give the little goat regular milky feeds to keep her going. Thankfully, she’s now gaining in strength & health, all the time….but make no mistake, there’s still a very long haul before she’s ‘out of the woods’.