Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Kid

This is her second summer in day camp at a nearby working farm – glorified petting zoo, really. For an animal lover like her, Real Life Farms is a magical place. Every day of the week that she is there, she has returned home with an animal as the farm lets kids “sign out” various critters overnight: bunnies; goats; kittens and ducks. Wednesday evening she came home with her second goat in two summers, a little white and tan kid with an adorable face and dangling, shriveled umbilical cord. Because of the holiday weekend, an overnight visit has turned into a five day all-expense-paid stay at Chateau Hodee.

At first, the little one insisted the kid was a lamb, Lily the Lamb, specifically. But, she’s definitely a goat and has the nubs of horns. Her private bits look female. We’re not sure if the kid is a boy or girl. We go back and forth calling it “he” and “she” or “Lily” and “Dudley.” Either way, s/he is awfully cute.

I strenuously object to new animals in the home – even visitors – because our little animal lover wants them around the house and has the best of intentions, but does not do all the work necessary to care for any of them. A dog, cat, hermit crab and fire belly toad all need daily care and that falls to me. I end up being the saddest one when these little animals pass on to Pet Heaven.

The kid is no different. I’ve bottle fed her, held her on my lap until she feel asleep (for an hour or so), cleaned up her diarrhea – we haven’t quite nailed down her diet – walked her around the neighborhood, taken her to see fireworks, bathed her (see: diarrhea), hosed out her disgusting cage (a beat up airline pet taxi), petted here, chased her around the yard or house to make sure she didn’t eat anything harmful and otherwise raised her like my own child. If I did all this with
my own kid, the offspring, I’d be a shoe-in for Father of the Year.

While we were watching fireworks, me reclined on our outside lounger, she climbed me like a mountain and stood perched, vigilant on my shoulder. Her tail wiggled like Sabrina’s nose (from
Bewitched) before the warm spray trickled over my collarbone and chest. What can you do about
that beside laugh?

She has screamed and cried, keeping us all tense at times. It is hard to know how to please a goat, but the bleating is something one desperately wants to end once it starts. If you have ever heard it, you’ll understand. Like our dog and cat, when she wants attention she comes over to me and puts her front...hooves...on my knees and looks up at me with expecting eyes. Holding her soothes her immediately most of the time. If she wants her bottle, she bleats until she gets it.

Eating for her is like a contact sport; she hits the bottle or the hand – presumably priming the udders – and sucks the milk and/or water out with a fiery. Foam gathers around the corners of her mouth. Pee soon follows, sometimes within seconds.

[That’s all just the mundane stuff. Stay tuned for Part II, which is a very funny story about a little predicament the kid got us in last night.]

Tomorrow morning I have to return her to the farm before heading to work. I suppose we could just keep the kid another day until our human kid next returns to the farm, but it’s too much work. I will be sad to leave her. In five days, I’ve managed to get myself attached to the little menace. If we had a fenced-in yard – maybe Invisible Fence works on goats, too! – I’d be tempted to just let her stay until she became ours by default. Why even entertain such a crazy idea? She’s a frickin’ goat! Being the sap that I am, I’ll probably have a lump in my throat when I carry her back to the barn.

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