One misty Memorial Day, I watched our young doe, Poppy, deliver one kid. Her baby was the first she had brought forth, and that kidding was the first on our farm.
My husband, John, and I were inexperienced as goat keepers and were concerned when Poppy refused to care for her baby. We sculpted a nest out of straw in another stall and fed the kid a bottle.
Usually, goats deliver twins or triplets so that even if the mother fails to care for the babies, they can cuddle together for warmth.
But at the time of Poppy's kidding, we were living without electricity, so we could not plug in a heat lamp. And the fog lingered into the afternoon, denying any sunshine that would have warmed the barn. So we tucked a beach towel around the baby and planned to check on it every hour.
When I returned to the barn, I spied our calico cat, Bethena, curled around the baby goat. Normally, Bethena was a reticent cat who usually claimed affection on her own terms, but that day, she glanced up at me as if to say: "I have the situation under control." After lapping a bowl of warm milk, she returned to the baby goat.
The next morning, the sun rose, Bethena roamed the orchards, and the baby goat was up, tottering in her stall. Twenty-five years later, no other cat on our farm has chosen to cuddle with a chilly newborn goat.
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