Part 3 – Your Bucks are beginning to grow!
After the first few days, they began to trust me, walking up to take their drink from a bottle. I’m sure “assistant” was extremely pleased to see the end of his daily buck beatings. I still needed his help. It didn’t take me long to figure out that you cannot hold four bottles out at one time (see, sometimes I’m not that slow).
At the beginning, they had all looked exactly the same but I soon found I could tell the difference. No-one else could but I could see mild differences in size, gait and, most importantly, personality. Starbuck, as he became known, was the biggest of them – the one who had “allowed” himself to be caught for extra feeds. Thaba, which means “rejoice” in Sesotho (one of our eleven official languages in this country!) was my little baby boy. He wouldn’t have made it in the wild. He was too small and had something wrong with his mouth. When drinking, half the milk would slither down his face – real messy baby he was. The two girls were somewhere in between the boys in size and behaved like true ladies. They would drink politely and then move onto the lucern (another thing I found out I had to source in order to get them grazing). Starbuck, being the biggest, boldest, naughtiest and greediest, would suck on his bottle until it created a vacuum. Then he’d start knocking the others off their bottles to get more. I guess men of all species are the same. Sorry guys.
At one point, Starbuck became so engrossed in his bottle that, once finished, he latched onto my finger and started sucking that. Incredible! I have never experienced anything that soft and velvety. A Springbok’s tongue is the most delightful thing on earth. Their fur is spectacularly but there will never be anything like the tongue. I highly recommend that everyone attempts to grow some bucks and, in the process, rudely stick your finger in their mouths.
I managed to get to touch and stroke them but only while feeding. No bottle – No cuddle. That was their motto. Thaba did take to following me around, though. I could say “let’s go for a walk” and he’d politely follow me wherever I chose to go. Starbuck, being the tough-guy man, approached things differently. He decided that bum head-butting was a far more exciting enterprise. I quickly learnt to keep an eye on his whereabouts at all times.
The marginally insane locals, thought I was completely nuts, going to all this trouble for what seemed to be a perfectly good meal. They told me, with great authority, that it was two weeks bottle feeding, followed by forced weaning. What? Have you met a baby that get’s weaned after two weeks? So, I did my own research and found out that 4 weeks was the standard. I stuck to this and, blow me down (gently, please), the babies started weaning themselves at around the 4 week mark. They started accepting fewer bottles during the day and started grazing more. Guess what, nature kind of knows what it’s doing. Let it take its’ course and things work out far better.