Friday, May 5, 2017

birthday girls

There have been three birthdays here in the past week.

Piper's actual birth date is not known. The shelter estimated she was nine months old when I adopted her in that long-ago December, but as I got to know Puppy Piper, I soon felt that she was younger, maybe by a month or two. So May first is a good day to declare Piper's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Piper! (Don't worry, we are not telling anyone your age. Keep them guessing, Pip!)

Moxie and Della are also Spring babies, and since both their mamas arrived at the shelter pregnant, I know exactly when each kitten was born. Moxie's birthday is April 28th, and Della's birthday is just five days later, on May 3rd.

They were four months old when they moved in, remember?

Second day at home

Last month. Or last week. Or last night.

And on Wednesday evening, the kittens celebrated their birthdays by saving the life of Betula. No joke.

I was busy working in the house when Moxie began making a strange sound. Almost a continuous growl, but different. Both kittens were staring out the south windows, and I thought there must be some new kind of mayhem going on at the birdfeeders. I hoped it wasn't a hawk.

No hawk, but the kittens were staring so intensely I went outside to take a look around. And that's when I started running, because Betula, the biggest goat in the herd, was standing in the barn doorway but in a strange position. I could only see his hindquarters, but his hind feet were standing on the ground - about 18" below the barn floor. LeShodu - the next-biggest goat in the herd - was in the barn facing Bet, both their heads were down, and at first I wondered if they had somehow locked horns.

AS IF! I don't run this herd by locking horns with underlings!

Betula's horns were both caught in the stall divider, his head was down and his neck was twisted because he had moved his body as far as possible away from LeShodu who was right there, threatening, white cashmere already dangling from her horns. Bet was absolutely helpless. I pushed Shodu away, and she came right back again, grunting, and waving her horns around. (LeShodu is Betula's mother by the way.) I had to tie Shodu to the fence, then encourage Bet to get his hindquarters up and into the barn, so at least there was not that added pressure on his neck. It took some effort to free him - with anxious goats milling around, since there was no time to collar and tie all of them - and to be honest this was one of the worst situations I've dealt with here. There was no way for me to cut the divider. Betula is a big fellow and very strong - all I could do was persuade him to move his head in odd ways to get a little leeway on each horn. And if nothing else, I was able to encourage Bet and keep all the other goats from bothering him while he got his strength up for another try at twisting and pulling his horns free. Which he was finally able to do. Then I spent an hour just walking around in the dark with the herd, trying to settle everyone down. Looking up at a clear, moonlit night and literally thanking my lucky stars...

...because I don't think Betula had been trapped for more than a few minutes before I got there, but he was already physically extremely stressed. His nose felt cold. He could have been killed by LeShodu or another goat. Or he could have just despaired and given up and died. No question.

So, at just (barely) one year of age, the kittens are already performing heroic acts.

I'm pretty impressed.