A Bubble Off Plumb

Orphans are us

Posted 6/22/21

There has never been a doubt I am a sucker for babies. Babies of all types — human, dog, rabbits, horses, even baby chicks. It may be because I was saddled at an early age with a little boy my …

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A Bubble Off Plumb

Orphans are us


There has never been a doubt I am a sucker for babies. Babies of all types — human, dog, rabbits, horses, even baby chicks. It may be because I was saddled at an early age with a little boy my mother adopted and multiple nieces and nephews. It was just second nature to care for the little imps until their parents came and got them or they grew up, whichever came first. 

When we were ranching, there were always calves that needed a helping hand, whether because they were a twin or mama died or she just hated the calf’s guts. One bad spring I had 17 bottle calves at once. I would lock my own child, a toddler at the time, in a separate stall until the feeding was done. Heck, I have even kept barn kittens alive until another litter was born and I could sneak them in on the unsuspecting mother.

So it was when I was out on a story that I came home with a baby goat. This little one was part of a quartet. One died immediately after birth, the mother loved the other two, but had to be hobbled to allow this runt to eat. The owners have more than 25 goats, and really had neither the time nor inclination to do that three times a day or more. The baby obviously wasn’t doing so hot, so I took it home to bottle feed.

It was an adventure I hadn’t counted on, but like I said, I’m a sucker for a baby. 

We got it started eating, but the original formula didn’t agree with the little rascal. Cleaning up after him was ugly, just as it is with most newborns of any species. But we got him lined out and now he is in fine fettle, which leaves him plenty of time for a goat’s primary occupation — mischief. 

HIs daily agenda runs something like this:

4:55 a.m. Wake up and proceed to bleat piteously until everyone else is awake. He has reached decibel levels that equal a 747 taking off. 

5:15 a.m. Guzzle bottle of milk replacer. Cry and search for more to eat, since a bottle full is inadequate.

5:16 a.m. distracted by dogs, forget all about starvation, play with dogs for next hour.

6:16 a.m. Drop in shade and take a nap. Sleep for 25 minutes, waking fully refreshed and with new ideas for mayhem. Spend the next hour getting under everyone’s feet as they try to get chores done. If the door is left open, this includes annoying anyone trying to pack a lunchbox or get their shoes on. Nibbling on shoelaces is a preferred tactic, although clothing will also work.

7:10 a.m. Get put back in pen while the taxi service gets everyone to their jobs.

8:30 a.m. Released from prison. Head butt dogs, truck tires and trees. Climb into just-planted flower beds. Eat on all plants that have been planted, but ignore all thistle and dandelions. Spend two hours on this.

10:30 a.m. Try to convince anyone who will listen it is time to eat with no luck, since there are ditches to be monitored and other animals to be fed. Take a walk with the dogs.

11:45 a.m. Finally get fed. Jeez. Spend 45 minutes being seriously offended. Then nap for more than an hour, preferably in the sun in the hottest spot of the yard. That way the humans worry you are having heat stroke and move you into the shade. That allows you to rear up and put your dirty feet on their clothing.

1 p.m. Wander out to the yard and onto the garden. It isn’t having a bad enough time getting sprouted, so make sure to nibble off whatever looks good and green, except weeds or grass. Make sure to avoid stepping on them, because they should have all kinds of advantages. 

Hey, look, the carrots are especially tasty today.

3 p.m. Back in the pen until the younger human gets home.  

3:45 p.m. Follow the younger human around. Annoy him as best you can. Jump up on his work bench, get hold of his shoelaces, nibble his fingers. Eventually he decides to dump another bottle into your belly, so you can sleep until around 5 p.m.

5 p.m. Spend an hour annoying everyone who is trying to do evening chores. Trample a few more plants that managed to recover during the day from the stomping you gave them earlier.

7 p.m. Turn up your nose at the offered feed. Cry brokenheartedly when penned for the night. Go to sleep the minute the door is shut so that there is plenty of time to rest up for tomorrow, when plans include chewing wires under the pickups and carrying your water pail into the tall grass where it will never be seen again.

Planning is paramount with so little time and so much trouble to make.