…we’d see how badly the goat kid wanted to live.
In a magnificent example of Darwinian Evolution, one of our meat goats managed to break her own neck in a feeding trough, which had been safe for thousands of feedings.
“Beats me,” she sighed, “we’ll play it by ear.”
The surviving kid was small—no bigger than a smidgen. Soon, the name, ‘Smidge’ stuck.
She was no more than four weeks old, halfway to weaning. Her stomach enzymes were working well enough that she could nibble grain. When that wasn’t sufficient, she’d sneak up behind an unwary doe, find an exposed udder and grab a quick snack. By the time the unsuspecting mother realized the nursing kid wasn’t her own, Smidge was off and stalking another involuntary donor.
Unlike her mother, Smidge was smart, tough and adaptable—best of all—she wanted to live. Each time we checked, she was full of energy, climbing around the rocks in our livestock pens.
This tiny goat kid was so small that she could sneak through any of our fences on her way to snitch something to eat. Slowly, involuntarily, we were losing control of our ranch to a goat that was hardly bigger than a loaf of bread.
Our grass was growing and spring turnout time approached. This is when lactating livestock need as much nutrition as possible.
However, we live in rugged country. Our livestock guard dogs protect our flock from coyotes and the occasional cougar. An inattentive and wandering animal quickly becomes predator lunch.
For Smidge, who had already survived more than her share of hard times, turnout would be a test.
The first day, she was running happily with the bunch. That night she returned to the barnyard with the flock. We breathed a sigh of relief.
The next day, same thing. Smidge returned with the whole bunch, looking fat, full and happy. Day after day, this tiny goat successfully negotiated her way through our high desert predators.
There was Smidge, hovering near the edge. When a danger signal was called, she’d hightail it to the center of the flock and hide underneath the belly of the older, more experienced, animals. Then she wouldn’t come out until the ‘all-clear’ was given and the flock relaxed.
More than anything else, she wanted to live.
Smidge survived and grew during her first summer in the fields. Same thing for her second year. While she’s no longer small enough to dart under the bellies of the other goats, she’s always quietly in the middle of the flock, the safest place to be.
Late last winter, Smidge had her first kid—a Smidglet—a healthy and strong doeling. Smidge was an attentive mother and we have high hopes for the little goat—and her kid—that wanted to live.
We’ll talk again….
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AUTHORS’S NOTE: This story began in the winter of 2011. Smidge, is a large and strong goat these days and still in our flock. Every year, she’s had a healthy and strong kid. She’s a range goat that we rely on to set an example for each year’s crop of youngsters.