"When baby season is over...." I think I have probably said this line a dozen times a week the past few months with a hundred different ways to end the sentence. The first babies arrived at BGC at the end of December and it's been non stop ever since. BGC's first babies, Beckham & Boom arrived while it was well below freezing overnight so they spent nights in my kitchen
Baby season is unpredicatble and monotonous at the same time. Feed, clean, cuddle. Prep bottles, wash bottles, defrost milk. Every day, the same routine. Just when we think baby season is "over," there are more babies in need of safe haven. Last week as I was back on the road for another baby goat rescue road trip, I found myself thinking about life for the few short months that aren't baby season and asking myself "are we there yet?" Honestly, I was feeling the need for a break. A break where my kitchen isn't taken over by baby bottles and drying racks and gallons and gallons of milk. When my life isn't revolving around the 3x day bottle feeding schedule of at least 1/2 a dozen babies. Don't get me wrong, I love baby season. I truly do love the work that we do. It just takes a lot of time, energy and emotion to live this life 24/7. We knew that the babies I was bringing home that day would be some of the last of the season so things were sure to slow down going forward, right? Well, in rescue work, things never slow down. Case in point, that night we got the green light for a slaughterhouse rescue.
Slaughterhouse rescues are always hard emotionally. This one was particularly hard, I will spare you the details. After two days, we rescued over a dozen goats from death row. None who would have lived to see another 24 hours given the holiday weekend and business the slaughterhouse was seeing.
When we arrived in the early morning hours of day two we knew which two goats we wanted to pull. Two big, horned Lamancha wethers who were simply, awesome! The first one I spotted, now named Zeus, had a face a lot like my beloved boys Nicky and Nitro. I quickly scanned the pen and didn't see the other one and my heart sank. When I went in to lead Zeus to safety I was happy to spot his buddy who had been separated from him by a closed door. As I approached Zeus he stretched out his nose to give me kisses and happily followed me out and we grabbed his buddy, now known as Jupiter, along the way. These boys are stunningly beautiful and their sweet nature captured my heart immediately.
As I was leading them out I passed by two young boers, no more than a few months old, curled up in a corner together. I had spotted them when I first went in on my mission to get Zeus and Jupiter out. It was clear one of these sweet babies was sick. And it was clear, these babies were coming with us. Not wanting them to be separated, even for a few minutes, I scooped them up, one under each arm and carried them out of the pen. Not an easy task. Pure adrehline kicks in when you're in these situations. The little sick doeling immediately nuzzled my face and wagged her tail. That moment, that is what our rescue work is all about.
The hard truth is, we aren't able to save them all. But we can save some. Some we save from the front lines of slaughter and some we save from ever having to go through the experience of a livestock auction, of being hauled from various states without food or water and from the horrible expereince that is their stay on death row at the slaughterhouse.
When I arrived home at BGC later that day, I drove through the gate and saw over 20 happy, healthy and quite honestly spoiled, goats. When I went into the pasture, Nicky ran right up to me and showered me with kisses, just as Zeus had done earlier that morning at the slaughterhouse. Tears filled my eyes. My boys and all of these little ones residing with us, never, ever have to experience what our slaughterhouse rescues do. They have been adored and cared for since the minute they were in our care. We work tirelessly to see that they find the best possible forever home. This, this is why we do what we do. This is why we take in as many babies as we can each year and let our lives revolve around their every need.
Last weekend's rescue was a reminder, a reminder of the bigger picture. We take in lots of baby goats each year. Over 70 each year the past two years. They are adorable and snuggly, happy and healthy. But they are a part of the bigger picture. Slaughtehouse rescue has been the backbone of PSGR. We rescue directly from the front lines of slaughter but the babies we take in from dairies and breeders each year are part of that mission too. We're preventing them from ever seeing that fate.
Since our slaughterhouse rescue last week, I have snuggled everyone just a little bit longer, hugged them just a little bit tighter and told them I loved them more times than I can count. What I experience during slaughterhouse rescues is something no goat should ever have to endure. The babies that come to our rescue never will. And those who we rescue who have lived through that, we hope to erase that experience as best we can and give them a second chance at the beautiful life they deserve.
So no, we're not there yet but that just means that more lives are being saved and forever changed. And I'm quite alright with that.