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Grossly Fascinating Lessons




On the farm, we often have situations that catch us off guard and teach us a lesson. We had one of those situations last week. One of our baby goats developed a HUGE abscess on her hind leg. The Bibbed Wonder noticed it immediately and took action. What looked like a softball-sized lump was an abscess from a minor injury. We think she probably got poked with a stick or had some slight puncture wound that got infected. Anything is possible with all the brush, briars, and downed trees. Now that the babies are in what we call “summer camp,” they are more independent, not as friendly, and challenging to catch.


Once The Bibbed Wonder noticed the lump on the little goat’s leg, he asked The Bean and me to help him catch her. To say she was an unwilling patient is an understatement. She had no intention of allowing us to lay our hands on her. We tried coaxing her with grain, but she turned and ran. We tried luring her with her mama, and she turned and ran. We resorted to chasing her and trying to corner her, but she gave us a run for our money. Finally, The Bean was able to snatch her by her uninjured hind leg as she turned tail to run. Once she was caught, the theatrics began. If one were not used to being around little goats, one would assume we were torturing and murdering the little creature.


The Bibbed Wonder examined her leg but found no puncture wound or open sore. He gave the little girl a shot of antibiotics and set her free. Once Jenna arrived at the farm to help us with soap, he asked her to take a look at the little goat’s leg. Jenna, who graduated from Penn State with a degree in animal science, is always happy to help with the animals. Jenna decided the lump needed drained. She quickly set up a makeshift workstation with a scalpel, iodine, saline, and peroxide.


Jenna set to work cleaning the area, removing hair, and ensuring the little goat was stabilized and unable to squirm. Eric held her tightly and comforted her while Jenna pressed and drained the abscess. I was unprepared for the amount of yuck that came out of this thing. With the first application of pressure, pus flowed out like a fountain. It just flowed and flowed without end. Jenna found the original puncture wound as pus and blood squirted out the side of the abscess. This newly opened area sprayed Jenna with pus, blood, and liquid. I gasped, Eric giggled, and Jenna made a disgruntled face and stated, “as long as I don’t get sprayed in the mouth, I’m good.” I give Jenna credit; she is unflinching.


Once all the liquid had been removed from the abscess, Jenna filled it with saline and pressed it again. She did this several times. The last few times, she included a peroxide solution. The wound bubbled, and finally, the liquid coming out was clear. Jenna then sprayed the area with an iodine solution and let the poor traumatized little goat go. The little goat had to be caught, the wound cleaned, and antibiotics given for several days. It was a marathon each time we had to catch her.


Now, a week later, her leg looks normal aside from a small lump. The lump is hard, and nothing comes out of the wound when pressed. The little girl is on the mend but does not like seeing us coming. I believe we have ruined our relationship with her. Even though she sees her friends and mama playing with us and receiving scratches and pets, she stays as far away as possible. I can’t say that I blame her.


I wish I had taken a video of cleaning the wound the first time. Although I did not measure it, I am confident at least a cup of pus came out. It was grossly fascinating. We are keeping an eye on the little goat, and she appears to be healing. There is never a lack of excitement around here.


The girls have a few more weeks of summer camp. Now that the hay is made, The Bibbed Wonder is cleaning the barn and spreading the manure on the hay fields. The girls will return to a lovely clean barn with abundant fresh hay and recharged pasture fields. Eric will move the little pigs to the summer camp pasture, and The Bean will begin working with them to take them to 4-H in a few months. It’s a busy time of year, but we enjoy it.


I hope your summer is filled with things that bring you happiness. I also hope you don’t have to deal with infected puncture wounds. If you do, make sure you have your camera rolling. It’s an excellent opportunity to share something useful…and grossly entertaining. Stay safe, be smart, and keep washing your hands-especially before and after cleaning wounds. Nobody likes a staph infection. Also, now is an excellent time to purchase some foaming hand soap to have on hand. It is half-off on the website this week…insert wink.

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