Tigerlily might be beautiful to look at, but she’s a very disappointing mother. After we greeted her new kids, Phil and I went back to bed and monitored the new family through the goat-o-scope. We immediately noticed something unusual. Tigerlily was no longer interested in her babies and was in fact running away from them! Every time they toddled eagerly toward her udder, Tigerlily would flee to the far side of the shelter. Phil and I watched her for a while with growing discouragement. She wasn’t savaging the the babies, but she clearly wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, she kept calling out the door as if looking for me. The bond she’d formed with her kids had transferred to me when I came out to visit.
Tigerlily started taking interest in her daughter again by mid-morning, but she wanted nothing to do with her son. On the other hand, Tigerlily was very bonded to me and kept fervently licking my arms. I managed to trick her into licking her boy by holding him in the crook of my elbow, hoping that by licking both of us she might come to accept her baby again. It worked! By next morning Tigerlily was nursing her baby boy but she’d utterly rejected her daughter. This time there was no changing her mind, so Phil and I had to hold Tigerlily several times a day so her little doeling could nurse. She’s such a confused mama!
We ended up naming the chunky buckling “Major Tom” and the tiny wisp of a doeling “Ziggy.” Ziggy immediately began associating Phil and I with a meal and within a few days she was running to us every time we called her name. Since Tigerlily was not aggressive toward Ziggy, we felt safe leaving them together. Ziggy happly bounced along behind her mama and big brother and seemed in no danger of getting left behind.
When Ziggy was five days old, I went out to feed her lunch and Tigerlily was on babysitting duty. She had Ziggy and Tom with her along with the three other late May kids, Sunflower, Skipper, and Scout. The rest of the goats were nowhere to be seen. I thought Ziggy would stay with the other four youngsters and I didn’t worry when I watched all of them trotting off into the brush with Tigerlily.
About two hours later I went out to check on the goats and I found a pile of babies curled up in a corner of the house with Tigerlily still watching over them, but little Ziggy was not among them. I didn’t worry. We’ve lost a few kids before and usually they’re within 100 yards of the house curled up in some cranny behind a rock or woodpile. I hunted around calling Ziggy’s name but she never appeared. I looked in all the usual places and a few unusual ones but she wasn’t there. I started getting nervous. She was such a tiny baby and her tan color would allow her to blend in almost anywhere. Still, I hadn’t searched long and I had to run to town on errands so I turned the search over to Phil when he was done working for the day. I thought surely he’d find her before I got home.
When I got back almost two hours later Ziggy was still missing. Phil had searched high and low but there was no sign of our tiniest little baby. I rejoined the hunt and we took our search further afield. Tigerlily was no help at all. Most mama goats will help us look if they lose their kids and often they have a rough idea of where they last saw them. But although Tigerlily seemed vaguely aware that she was missing something, she wasn’t distraught and she certainly had no interest in helping us look. We called and called, hoping Ziggy would call back, but listening for a baby goat cry was problematic. The birds were making a racket and the ranchers next door were moving cattle so the din of cows mooing and horses whinnying drowned out everything else.
We took a brief break for dinner and put the goats to bed. Dusk was falling and I hoped that as the light died, Ziggy would start to get nervous and call out. The birds had settled down for the night and the cattle and horses next door were finally quiet. Perhaps we might now be able to hear Ziggy. We took several more circuits around our property but we had no luck. It was almost dark and I was in despair. How could our tiny baby survive the night alone among foxes and coyotes? I finished my final round and waited on the back deck for Phil to finish his. I didn’t have much hope. I could make out Phil’s dim silhouette climbing the hill behind our house and he said nothing. My heart sank. He had not found Ziggy.
But as Phil trudged closer to the light cast from the back porch, my heart leapt. What was that tiny parcel tucked into the crook of his elbow? It was Ziggy! I raced down to meet Phil and cried tears of joy as Ziggy wriggled happily in his arms. She didn’t seem to know what all the fuss was about. Phil had found her way down beyond the pond at the edge of our property line. Phil had been walking along calling, “Baby goat! Baby goat!” as he went. Suddenly he stopped. Was that a small voice answering him? He called again and this time there was no mistake. Ziggy was calling back. Phil walked toward the sound and then he heard Ziggy rustling through the thick brush next to the trail. He could not get to her through the dense growth, but he kept calling as Ziggy struggled through the thicket toward the sound of Phil’s voice. Suddenly she burst out of the undergrowth and straight into Phil’s arms. We’d been searching for six hours and we were exhausted, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. Our littlest baby was safe at home again.