One Goat Kid

Temperance had her babies. One survived, one did not.

As we waited for the big day, I imagined announcing the arrival of baby goats on FB and in this space. “Goat kids are here!” “Welcome baby goats!” I was nervous about my role as “goat doula,” having only watched one goat birth and done a rather limited amount of reading, and I am well aware that sometimes pregnancies/births work and sometimes they don't. But still, I let my mind wander ahead to the image of “at least two kids” frolicking together in the paddock. 

Temperance had her babies early in the morning. The first one took a long time to come out – it made me nervous. Dave called the vet and she gave us some advice, which worked. Kid #1 came out. I immediately put her under Temperance’s nose, and Temperance began licking her right away. The kid perked up, responding to her mama’s care.

Kid #2 came out quickly, but was limp. Maybe she was already gone. Maybe she was stunned by the quick exit. I immediately put her under her Temperance’s nose, but she remained limp. I rubbed her all over, though I know now that I should have focused on her face, maybe even helped with the first few breaths. She never responded, and it soon became clear that she was gone.

Had I not been home when the babies arrived, the second surely would have died. If I had had more experience, perhaps she would have lived. I think it is best if I just leave it at that.

We’re all so happy about the kid who is doing well, and very sad about the one we lost. It’s tricky holding both the joy and the sadness at the same time. But this duality is nature at its truest, and it reminds me of two of my favorite quotes.

The first comes from Eula Biss:

“…the use of natural as a synonym for good is almost certainly a product of our profound alienation from the natural world."

As a reaction to the synthetic and processed aspects of our society’s lifestyle, Biss points out the cultural shift towards epitomizing nature as good; the idea of natural has come to represent safe and benign. But natural is not a synonym for good. Nature may be good, but it is not safe.

Which leads me to the second quote.

I came across this one years ago when I read the Narnia Chronicles to Katherine, and it has stayed with me ever since. One of the characters described Aslan, the lion king of Narnia, to the children:

“Safe?…Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good.”

C.S. Lewis intended this as a reference to Christianity and God, but for me, it perfectly captures the essence of nature.

Nature cannot be defined by the prototypical duality of good and evil. That is a human phenomenon. But there does exist a duality in nature: the vegetable garden that flourishes, the beetles that devour and destroy; the plants that heal, the plants that poison; the goat kid who thrives, the goat kid who dies. This duality is not the classic good and evil, rather it is one of good and unsafe. Nature is good, but it is not safe.

I find comfort in these two quotes. The goat that thrives and the goat that dies; this experience is the product of a profound connection to the natural world.