Bottle Babies

In May of 2016, Sabrina came into my life. She was 7 days old, the unfortunate little sister to two big brothers who would not share their mom’s udder. Yes, Sabrina is a goat. I was asked to babysit overnight while a friend ran an out-of-town errand and by the next day, I was firmly convinced that nothing could make me give her back. I didn’t get much of an argument (okay, none at all) because bottle baby goats take a LOT of work and time and sleepless nights…

I might be confusing Sabrina with my own kid, but anyway, they are a handful, at least. Since I had no facilities to contain a very tiny goat at that time, Sabrina slept in a big Rubbermaid tub next to my bed. She woke me when she was hungry (nobody can sleep through that!) She followed me around my house and crawled in the dishwasher. She rode along to every place we went including the local brewery, a winery, my son’s school, the chiropractor’s office, and no one ever said, “No livestock allowed”.

When Sabrina was about 5 weeks old, I acquired another bottle baby. He was 4 weeks old, the only survivor of triplets who was too weak to nurse at birth, and he was looking for someone who already had a sister for him to play with. Thus, Lincoln joined our lives. Two bottle babies are always better than one and now Sabrina and I had another hiking buddy. As the two of them grew, we would put them in a big dog crate and drive up the pass to go for walks along snowy glacial lakes. We took them to our favorite campground and let them bounce from rock to rock and everywhere we went, we would catch someone doing a doubletake because those “little dogs” look suspiciously like little goats!

As usually happens, kids grow up, and Sabrina and Lincoln were no exception. They eventually stopped fitting in the crate and started hanging out more in their pasture and acting a little more like goats. These days, Lincoln is about 250 pounds of big hairy lapdog. He needs assurance that he is a “good goat” and that means ear rubs and scratches. Sabrina is a very independent, if somewhat stumpy, guard goat. Everyone who comes into her pasture, who is not me, gets the eyeball and ears straight out, flying nun style, and occasionally she will threaten a head butt if I don’t grab her. It is kind of a pain, but kind of flattering, too, since my “daughter” is protecting me.

I should have known from her protection of me that she would make a terrific mom, herself. She proved it on March 7th, 2021 when she gave birth to Scottie and Saffron. The neat part of having bottle babies is that they become wonderfully socialized to people, just like dogs. The neat part of having my bottle baby raise her own kids is she is imprinted on me; she naturally transfers that trust to her offspring. I get all the joy of friendly goat kids without the sleepless nights and worries!

I want to dedicate this story to my beloved Australian Shepherd, Bella, whom I lost a couple weeks ago. She was a fantastic “mom” to Sabrina and Lincoln and would have certainly adopted Sabrina’s kids as well. It’s a tremendous loss to my entire family.

Bella and Sabrina

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We are a small homestead in the foothills of the North Cascades in Washington state. We breed goats for milk, cheese, and soap; keep chickens, ducks, and geese; and grow our own fruits and vegetables. Read more…

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