Melina Morsch was all set to take care of a two-pound baby goat, a task she has accomplished successfully before.
Morsch, the owner of Fox Den Yoga, is an animal lover, and keeps several adorable Nigerian dwarf or pygmy goats she has incorporated into all kinds of fun activities, including pre-pandemic yoga classes and family movie nights.
She doesn’t breed them herself, instead working with three goat breeders, she says, and occasionally, one of the does has more kids than she can feed, rejects one, or just isn’t cut out to be a mother and doesn’t look after her kids, explains Morsch. The breeders will occasionally call her when there is a baby in distress, she says.
When that happens, she is used to helping out, feeding and caring for the babies to give the breeders time to look after their other animals and babies.
This time, when she received a call to take one tiny little female who was being pushed off by her mother, she thought of the many families she knows who might love to help out during a pandemic, when their children are at home, doing online school work and missing all their recreational activities and their friends. “Life has bottomed out for so many young people,” she says.
Nursing an extremely cute, tiny little creature might be uplifting and rewarding for them in so many ways, she decided, and set out to find a foster family with a post on Facebook.
She had no shortage of offers. The response was amazing, and she chose one family of animal lovers, with three young girls. She set them up with all they needed, gave them some pretty simple instructions about bottles and formula, along with a playpen and a carrier, and handed over the four-day-old kid, who they named Fern.
She needs to be bottle fed every four hours, and to be held and cuddled a lot, which the girls are loving.
Emeline, Delphine and Maggie Norman, their dad Brent Norman and mom Jen Feschuk are used to animals around the house. Their two dogs, Freddie and West, have become intrigued with Fern, and the girls are really enjoying their role as a foster family.
“It’s a fantastic scenario for them,” says Morsch, with so many of their activities and their social life halted during the pandemic.
Feschuk agrees. “It’s great for the girls to have something to do at home. I feel a little like I’m back to what I was doing with the girls when they were babies, with feedings every four hours, but she usually goes right back to sleep.”
Looking after her “is more work than people might think,” she says, because Fern is so tiny and requires a lot of attention. She cries when they put her down, “so it’s lucky we have the girls who like to cuddle her.”
They take turns holding Fern, making bottles and feeding her, and have also shared some of the night feedings, says Jen.
In the short time they’ve had her, “she’s taken on more of a personality. She’s playing, hopping and jumping around, and wants to chew on everything. There are a lot of eyes on her.”
The girls are also learning to deal with the frustration of such a tiny creature requiring so much attention, she says, and realizing the responsibility that comes with it.
“They’re really bonding, and they’re learning that taking care of any animal is a big commitment. It’s a really cool experience,” she says.
They take her to the park with them, where she melts the hearts of all who see her.
They are also going to learn what it means to give Fern up in about eight weeks time.
“I’ve told them from the beginning it’s meant to be a fostering experience,” says Jen.
“That’s another important lesson in life to learn. Emeline rides at Benchview (Equestrian Centre, where Morsch boards her goats), and she’s looking forward to being able to see Fern while she’s there.”
While fostering Fern while she and her husband are at home during the pandemic has made it a little more convenient, says Jen, they probably would have offered anyway. “Our friends say they’re not at all surprised we’re doing this.”
Morsch says she was so overwhelmed with offers, and this is going so well with Fern, she may start networking for local breeders and develop a list of foster families who are interested in helping out.