For those of you who don’t know, Gremlin the goat was born on Feb. 22 this year. He is the son of Big Floyd and Little Bertha. Now to those of you who have never had the pleasure of goat ownership, this whole story will seem quite silly. At times, I must admit that I am the silly one — or maybe foolish one — for taking on the task of being a surrogate mama goat.
Take the time and think about those last words, “surrogate mama goat.” Without a doubt, that has to conjure up visions and thoughts of “What are you talking about?” A question that left unanswered will lead to total misunderstandings.
Those who read my column every week know that Gremlin’s mother could not give birth to him. So Dr. Lee had to intervene and deliver Gremlin — a task that should be left to the veterinarians of the nation. But it was an emergency, a pleasure that I care not to do again. With that said, I must go forward with “What was I thinking?”
At times it has been overwhelming. Just ask Luke and Jeff from Vuncannon’s Feed Store in Ellerbe — they saw for themselves.
I was having problems with what to feed Gremlin. Mr. John McInnis from Norman was a great help to me and the care of Gremlin. John suggested milk supplement for the baby, so it was off to Vuncannon’s I went. Luke and Jeff could see the distress that I was having. I truly was overwhelmed. I did not know what to do for this newborn goat. I must say that they told me to just calm down and it would be alright. It is now — but it wasn’t then.
With the first feeding, I had to force-feed the baby. I did not like it at all. It took about two days before he would take it all on his own. Then he got spastic when it was feeding time and still is. He is so gluttonous, but I guess that’s a baby goat for you. As the days went by, he started having problems with his stomach. It wasn’t him, it was me: I was feeding him too much. That brought on another problem that had to be taken care of with antibiotics. I know as human beings we have all had problems with our stomach. You have no idea what that means when dealing with baby goats.
Every day, it was one thing right after another. I ran myself ragged. I was driven not to let this baby goat die. I would wrap him up in a towel and lay on the sofa with him and let him sleep on my chest. At times, we both feel asleep. Then the day finally came: Gremlin’s little gut got straighten out. I was such a proud “surrogate mama goat.” He had started dropping pellets; it was a great day. I was so wrong — it just meant that he was getting older and smarter. Now mind you, we’re just talking about days and not years as in a child’s life.
So you think you want a baby goat? I’m telling you right now you better think about that long and very hard. Cute as they may seem on the outside is not what they have inside. One can only guess what is in a goat’s mind. I can tell you some of it: Mischief, mischief and another large helping of mischief. I guess Gremlin was about eight days old when it started to come out. I had just fed him. I know now that it was not enough in his little feeble mind. He watched me place his bottle on a shelf. It was about three feet off the ground. That distance meant nothing to this baby goat.
He used a box. First, he jumped on top of it then jumped onto the sofa. Now he was only inches from his bottle. He grabbed the nipple and to the ground goat and bottle went. I now have to hide the bottle from my little Gremlin.
At 12 days old, I knew that I had a problem child on my hands — I mean problem goat. But he does act like a spoiled child. It was at this time he started climbing on my shelves and using them for a pivot point to jump to higher things. He then started taking things off the shelves. I guess this was when he picked up the taste for plastic. I now have to put my plastic bags up much higher. In time, I know in my heart that height will matter not to my little Gremlin. For he is a jumper and he is good — too good, and that’s going to be a problem.
For most children, experimentation is just part of life and in the case of Gremlin it has been no different — other than his life has been calculated in days as opposed to years. I kid you not. No pun intended. Some children, at a young age, decide tobacco is something to try. Gremlin is no different — he started at the tender age of two weeks. He does not smoke but he does like to chew. It seems he likes cigarette butts more than tobacco. Do you have any idea what goat breath and cigarettes smells like? It’s not pleasant. I have been lucky enough to have caught him as he has picked them up off of the ground. Do you have any idea of how strong a goat’s jaw is — especially when he does not want to let go of something? You would not believe it.
Have you ever heard of sticky traps? They’re for mice and spiders. I have a single mouse that I have not been able to catch so I put out several traps. I have not caught that mouse. But I have caught a baby goat. The goat goes everywhere. If he can get his head in, the body is following. This was the case of the goat and sticky traps. He stepped on two of them, then he fell over onto another one. At that time, I had a sticky goat. I didn’t like it and he didn’t like it.
At 19 days old, he put on the best show I have seen — I just wish that I had it on video. I was sitting down at the pond, it was feeding time for Gremlin. He had just knocked out a half-pint — milk of course. I won’t allow him to drink beer. Maybe one day. You know it’s got grain it. As I sat there, he used my boots as a jumping off point to reach my knees. He walked on my lap. That was when he saw his bottle sticking out of my pocket. He grabbed the nipple and started sucking. All he got was air. I took the bottle from him and put it deeper into my pocket to keep it from him.
The goat was not happy. He decided to walk up my chest and use my arm to reach my shoulder. He stood on my shoulder turned around and walked across my back where he stood and looked around for a bit. This baby goat then walked down my right arm, sat down on my lap and took a short nap. As God is my witness, these words are the truth. I cannot believe some of the things that this baby goat has done at his age. Today, he is but three weeks old. I have no idea of what is to come for me and baby Gremlin. I can only hope that I will be able to raise him to the point of him being an adult. I have learned a lot about myself and baby goats in these three short weeks. I now know how to make a diaper out of paper towels.
Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.