Animal husbandry is not always fun. In fact, sometimes it can be the exact opposite of fun.
A few weeks ago one of our nannies gave birth to triplets. It was a tough pregnancy for her. One of the kids was large and healthy. But one was stillborn, and the third was weak and undersized.
In nature an animal mother can sense when one of her offspring is not healthy enough to survive. When that happens the mother will refuse to feed it, knowing that she shouldn’t waste milk on a baby that is not going to make it. It seems cruel to us humans, but it is cruelly efficient.
In this case the mother refused to nurse the runt, who Will named Pugsley. So Cherie brought him into the house, put him in a diaper, and has been bottle-feeding him every since.
Pugsley has gained weight, and he’ll take the milk he’s offered. But he hasn’t learned to eat anything else, he has little energy and may not be destined to survive. In fact, it may become my unpleasant responsibility to euthanize him.
We have two healthy adult animals on the farm that were bottle-raised by Cherie after having been rejected by their mothers. One is a heifer named February, and the other is Pugsley’s mother.
So there is hope. But honestly, it is fading.
I have had to euthanize animals before. It is simply part of the task of husbandry. And if Pugsley had been a healthy full-sized kid, he’d be destined for the market in a few weeks, and likely thereafter to a restaurant. It’s all part or the circle I suppose, as long as death remains.
Whatever happens with Pugsley, we will continue to have kids on White Flint. Most will be healthy, and all will be happy.