SPOILER ALERT! The story I am about to tell you does NOT end with me breast-feeding a pair of newborn baby goats.
Yesterday we went to the farmer’s market. Local produce, kick-ass breakfast burritos, and a little bit of the hippie culture that’s generally hard to find in this area (what can I say? I occasionally crave some dreadlocks and tie-dye in order to feel complete).
The goats were a bonus.
How old are they?, we asked.
Twenty-four hours, said the girl at the booth. She was sixteen at most, clearly hoping that her little sideshow attraction would increase her sales of goat’s milk soaps and lotions that the banners above her table claimed to cure eczema. The babies were drawing a crowd for sure.
After we had ooohed and awwwed for a couple of minutes, we moved on to our usual stops at the market: the Crazy Puppet Lady, the Bread Guy, the Blueberry Lady (who was absent yesterday, but her husband – Blueberry Guy – was there, as were, most importantly, the blueberries themselves), and our favorite organic farm stall at the very end of the row.
But I couldn’t get the goats out of my head. One day old! Weren’t they hungry? Where was their mother? Even if they didn’t yet know to miss her, surely she was somewhere back at the farm – uncomfortably engorged, no doubt – wondering where her babies were. They were so little! In the five minutes we watched them they tried to nurse from one another, from the cold metal bars of their crate, and from Boy Powers’s index finger.
When we reached the end of the line of stalls, we looped back around the outside and stopped once more to see the newborns. By this time I was getting a little stressed out about it all. The teenage soap-seller clearly did not see any problem with having a pair of one-day-old infants on display, hours from their mother and without so much as a drop of milk to drink. The mama in me felt so sorry for them, and even sorrier for their mother.
I should pause here and state for the record that I’m blissfully ignorant about goat-farming practices, and that I don’t believe any goats were harmed in the writing of this blog post. I don’t know what standard operating procedure is when goat babies are born, and I don’t blame the poor girl selling soap for anything beyond benign neglect.
But I did have a profound urge to pick up two baby goats and snuggle them and possibly nurse them.
Just as I was talking myself out of this impractical and possibly illegal idea, I overheard a woman ask the girl, as we had, how old the babies were.
Same answer: Twenty-four hours.
The woman let out an audible gasp. Where’s the mother? she asked, almost panicked.
Back at the ranch. Soap Girl was irritated.
They need to eat! This woman wasn’t going to let up. Look! That one is trying to suckle!
Soap Girl was unmoved.
Do you at least have a bottle?
Yeah, I’ve got one back there. Soap Girl waved flippantly in the direction of a bottle filled with water. It’s only for a few hours, anyway.
I couldn’t help it – I started to laugh. I had the exact same reaction, I told the woman.
It’s the mothers in us, she said.