My Little Utina Can Speak French!
By Teresa Michaud
Regina gave birth to twins, a boy Unity and a girl Utina, on October 16th of last fall. Regina only has one nipple since she lost the other one a few years back because of a bad bout with mastitis. She has always given birth to twins. She would choose to feed one and not let the other one nurse. I would then feed the other and he or she would stay with Regina who would mother them both just the same. It always worked out just great. To my amazement, this time Regina wanted to nurse both kids. For the first week, she had lots of milk. She carefully let each one take their turns and both kids thrived. I watched very closely, I knew this could not continue. Somebody would soon get less and less milk. Wednesday morning of the second week, I noticed that Unity was beginning a growth spurt and he was hungry. I also noticed that Utina was a little too slim. Both kids were underneath Regina. Unity had the nipple and Utina was trying to grab hold. I knew that today was the day.
She was hungry. I thought it would be so easy to feed her. Boy was I wrong! I tried to feed Utina that day with no luck. “NON!” She cried. Well, well, well I have a little French angora goat. She shut her eyes and let herself go as limp and floppy as a rag doll. She decided she would rather wait for her good smelling ‘maman’. I believed that when she was hungry enough she would drink. The following morning was the day before Halloween. I had no luck feeding her that morning either. I tried everything that I could think of. I made sucking sounds. I tried covering her eyes. I held her in my lap and I let the milk slowly drip down her throat hoping that she would start to suck. She would spit it out as fast as it went in. “NON!” She insisted until I was drenched in milk and so was Utina. Off she went to try to get a few drops that Unity might have left for her. I noticed her stealing milk from the two other does. They each had their own twins to feed and she got bucked away as soon as they noticed her. Each day I kept trying to feed her. I was getting smarter; I brought out towels with me now. She insisted on saying “NON!” closing her eyes tightly and letting herself go limp. It was almost as if she went into a coma. She just wanted me to go away. I could not get more than an ounce or so into her at each feeding. She seemed to stop growing. The other kids were soon nearly twice her size. The other does were watching her closely for they knew that she would steal their milk. I have never had a problem feeding milk to a kid in the past. This was becoming ridiculous.
The following weekend, Mom and Dad came over. We got together to try to figure out what we could do. It has been nine days since I tried to give her the first bottle. After some brainstorming, we decided to try some “sugar-teat”. It always worked with calves in the old days. It was definitely worth a try. I went and got her at the barn; I brought her into the house. I filled a small plate with corn syrup. I smeared some on her lips and she began to lick it happily. Our spirits rose. I then smeared the nipple with it. I brought it to her lips. “NON!” She screamed in French. “That sounds so final.” Dad quipped. We tried molasses. She would have none of it! “NON! NON! MAMAN!” She called out, again in French, as she struggled to get away. Fifteen minutes later, I was sticky from head to toe and so was Utina, Mom, Dad and the floor. I decided to visit a few sites on the internet to see if there were others who had this same problem and if they had some new ideas to try. All they said was not to give up. I do not think they had a kid goat as determined as Utina. She was my little French goat. She would see me coming and run away screaming “NON!” I remembered the times when it was so fun to go to the barn. My bottle babies would be so happy to see me. They would sometimes jump over other goats to get to me, grab the rubber nipple and drop to their knees with the tail just a-wagging. They would guzzle that bottle down faster than a teenager drinking beer would.
Here it was the early morning of day number 33. I had run out of ideas. I could still only get one or two ounces into her at a time. I always had to force it into her with her struggling and screaming “NON!” then going into her coma. I was afraid that one day she would choke on the milk and get some on her lungs. Utina was also staying small. I went into the barn and caught her. I picked her up. She did not weigh anymore than a straw hat. I went with her to the stairs. I sat on the second step and held her gently on my lap. I pried her mouth open and slipped in the rubber nipple. I held the bottle at an angle so that some of the milk would slowly drip into her mouth. She closed her eyes but did not say ‘non’. She swallowed just by chance. She opened her eyes. A few seconds later, she swallowed again. I held the bottle steady. I did not dare move. I wanted her to figure it out for herself. Suddenly, she began sucking hard on the nipple and bumping the bottle for more. I was in disbelief! She was actually drinking it, guzzling it! She sucked eagerly on the bottle until the very last drop of milk disappeared. She was still hungry. She looked up at me “Lait!” She Screamed. “Yes, of course, more milk for mademoiselle!” I believe I succeeded in charming my little French baby. This is the beginning of a very warm relationship.