BALANCING ACT: Miracles can happen
It is kidding season at our small farm west of Hillsboro. Despite the added workload of milking does and feeding baby goats in the wee hours of the morning, and making barn checks every three hours during the night, there is nothing better than the joy of watching baby goats come to life, sometimes literally in one’s hands.
The first baby of the year is always special. And while our first baby goat of 2013, a Sable doeling named Dillan, came with a phenomenal show and milk production pedigree behind her, and a story all her own, it was baby number four that got the “miracle” tag.
Daisy, baby number four, was born early Monday morning sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. I knew her momma was close to kidding at the 3 a.m. check, but was still surprised to see her standing over a muddle of what looked to be frozen twins at 5 a.m.
Sadly, it looked like one baby never made it out of the birthing sac and was a frozen ball. Ugh ... not a good way to start the day. I found another baby, now called Daisy, flat as a board, mostly buried in dirt, and seemingly frozen as well.
After picking her up for an examination and concluding there was no life there either, I placed her back down and turned to check other does.
A small squeak of sorts teased my ears as I turned. What was that? It certainly did not sound like a baby goat, but it had to be.
I bent down to examine the dirty, flat, and very cold lifeless body I had placed on the barn floor. Was that a movement? Was she breathing?
I stuck my finger in the baby’s mouth — it was cold as ice. I rubbed her belly a bit, and it moved! She was alive, but barely.
I scooped her up and ran to the warm milk parlor, talking to her and hoping for a miracle on the way.
Her neck, backbone, and legs were stiff, almost frozen, but her mouth, though caked with dirt and debris, was moving.
I cleaned her face off with warm water, wrapped her in rags saved for the purpose, and began rubbing her body, hoping to inspire her to keep breathing.
Barely, just barely, she sucked in air. Her abdomen moved, but then quit. She had such a dim spark. Her entrance into life had been cold and hard. I was not sure if she wanted to live or not.
Knowing I needed more help, I headed into the house to wake the rest of my family. Before long, we had her lying on warm towels fresh out of the dryer, absorbing heat from a space heater, and receiving continual stimulation as someone stroked her head and her body, reminding her to breathe.
It was not until 1 p.m. that same day that she finally decided to lift her head and squeak again. By that time her neck, back, and legs were warm, and though her mouth was still cold, it was evident she had decided to live.
Twenty-four hours later, she was standing in a box by the wood stove, letting us know every three hours with a loud, typical Nubian dairy goat maaa that she was hungry. Her eyes were still watery, as they had been packed with dirt. But she was alive, truly a miracle from the frozen barn floor.
Her birth and subsequent existence is a good reminder that sometimes all it takes to help someone who is struggling with life is to find a way to warm them up, clean off the dirt, and never let them forget to breathe. Of course, praying for a miracle doesn’t hurt either.