TITLE: Cutie Pie
By Clyde Blakely
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Splinters from the box we try to put Him into sometimes.
Please critique the writing - flow, word usage, etc. I've tried to use words for those not familiar with farming.
Thank you and God bless.
My wife and I love animals and we have a lot of them. Every once in awhile a special animal comes into our lives. Cutie Pie was one of the very special ones. She happened to be a goat.
When we first moved to the country we decided to get some animals to help control the brush in the fields surrounding the house. Off to the animal auction we went and home with six bottle babies, three goat kids and three lambs. A bottle baby is a new born which was taken off their mother for any or several reasons; the most common is to be sold. They become bonded with their people through the milk bottle; the people become their surrogate parents.
Trying to bottle feed six babies at the same time alone is quite a challenge. My wife and I loved it and laughed most of the time, what a riot. All the babies want to eat at the same time and there is no waiting in line. Attempting to hold all six bottles at the same time, preferably sitting with one between the knees and the rest hand held with the necks and nipples sticking out between the fingers.
Now lambs and kids just don’t suck, they bump the bottle – hard, and suck, then bump, and suck some more. This is repeated until the bottle is empty. It would be nice if they all bumped in unison but it doesn’t happen. If one is done before another they try to “bump” another baby off its bottle and the bumping each other off cycle begins. This goes on until the last bottle is empty, which is being emptied by six heads of babies, all at once. None think they are filled yet and go from empty bottle to empty bottle, jostling, bumping, and climbing over each other.
During this process if a bottle with milk in it is dropped it can’t be picked up until all the other bottles are emptied. A common occurrence. Trying to remember which baby was on it and if they got enough milk later through all the shuffling is impossible. What to do with one bottle and six “starving” babies? All this transpires in less than two minutes!
Well, Cutie Pie was in this group. Originally, she didn’t seem any different from the others for personality. But after the bottle feeding stage was over it was a different story.
Cutie was the only one who knew her name when I needed to call them all in. She would frequently be the first to spot me with a grain bucket and without me calling she would sneak off from the heard. As she made her way over she would be licking her lips all the time, her long tongue whipping as fast as it could from side to side. She’d certainly have her share before the rest of the herd saw what was happening and a stampede would start with goat and sheep cries of “not fair,” “wait for me” and “is there any left after Cutie Pie”? would fall on Cutie’s suddenly deaf ears.
However, she was not always “cute”. Milking time was a battle of wits. She didn’t “hop up on the milking stand and patiently wait to be milked”. Didn’t matter if there was all the grain she wanted in front of her, she was not going to be milked. Head tied to one wall and a shoulder into her side trying to pin her against another wall, she would go through all kinds of contortions – jumping, twisting, pushing, lying down, and even standing on her front feet. We’re not talking about jumping and kicking her back hooves in the air. We’re talking about “standing” on her front feet with her back feet straight up. Perhaps that’s how she wanted to be milked – her udders at shoulder height! I’m not sure which one of us “won” – I got the milk AND a work out.
As a mother, she was the best. She would produce enough milk for half the herd. We made goat cheese and lye soap from some of her milk. Cold goat milk taste wonderful. As she grew older, her udders became bigger and bigger each year, almost dragging on the ground. Her babies would have to virtually lie on the ground to reach her nipples to nurse. With each pregnancy she also seemed to grow wider. Waddling is not reserved for humans. Cutie waddled. Boy, did she waddle. Her body swaying from side to side and her udders moving in synch but in the opposite direction making quite the sight. Just before delivery the udders were so big they knocked into her legs causing her rear end to move with them; however, the waddling wanted the rear end going in the opposite direction. This slowed her down remarkably. This year we moved her into a field by herself so she didn’t have to contend with the other animals and gave all of us some peace of mind.
Recently I had been working out of town, about four and a half hours away. I had to leave for work one day and went out to see how our very pregnant Cutie Pie was doing. She didn’t come out of her shelter so I crawled in to pet her and talk to her. She was breathing heavy but goats do when their bellies are big and are lying down. I told her how special she was and how much I loved her. She turned and gave me several goat kisses. She’d never done that before. I gave her a hug and a kiss back. Then left for work.
My wife called the next day informing me that Cutie Pie had delivered. However, Cutie was not doing very well. She wasn’t eating or drinking. Newly delivered moms always eat and drink as if they’ve starved for a week, so we knew something was wrong. Both of us prayed off and on throughout the night for her.
At the motel the next morning I looked out the back window of my room onto an open field of lush, green grass bordered with blackberry bushes, a goat’s favorite. I froze. There was Cutie Pie contently eating the blackberry bushes. I watched for several seconds and then she was gone. Had I really seen her? A few minutes later my wife called to tell me that Cutie Pie had died.
Every once in awhile a special animal comes into our lives. Cutie Pie was one of the very special animals.
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