This weekend we had an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Flora, one of our three-year-old girls, gave birth to a pair of twin boys. We weren’t anticipating their birth until the 20th but Flora had different plans. The boys are both handsome and healthy and mama is doing well. It’s always a good feeling when things go well and we don’t have to assist in a delivery. Eric and a family friend were in the field discussing fencing options for our friend’s garden, when he noticed two tiny little loves hanging out in the sunshine with their mama. During baby season, we have moments when we feel like kids on Christmas morning. Eric hollers across the field, “Babies! Get Jordan and meet me in the barn!” We had very little work to do, Flora had the babies cleaned-up, fed, and outside moving about. We simply sprayed their belly buttons with iodine, put the belly button clips on and focused on Flora’s care. We feel that after our girls deliver, they deserve some extra special TLC. We move mama and babies into a fresh, clean stall where they can concentrate on bonding. Mama then gets a bucket of electrolytes, a healthy serving of sweet feed, all the hay she can eat, plus she is given a dose of propylene glycol, a vitamin drench, and a dose of oxytocin to help her pass her afterbirth completely. It was a good day.
Flora is our little miracle goat. She is one of a set of identical twins, Flora and Fauna, from my beloved goat Boo…as in my sweet baboo. Two years ago, Flora mysteriously came down with listeria. Listeria is an illness often brought on by moldy hay or grain, change in diet or extreme weather changes. Flora got sick when the polar vortex set in…remember the polar vortex…that was a treat Mother Nature, thanks again. We are not cold lovers here at The Smiling Goat, no cold of any kind does not make us smile. Not only was it subzero and painfully cold, but we had to go out every hour to get Miss Flora on her feet to keep her blood circulating and work her muscles. We also had to change her bedding, change her blankets, and tube her (run a tube down her throat to her belly and put fluids into her), as well as administer medicine every 4-6 hours. It was an intensive process that lasted two weeks. Her survival prognosis was 40/60 by our vet, not exactly winning odds. I have never seen an animal as sick as little Flora. Her swallow reflex was inhibited, so she drooled constantly, her brain stem was swollen, she had lost control of her muscles and bodily functions, and she just laid and moaned. It was one of the saddest things I have seen. I will do everything in my power to aide a suffering creature and save its life but there were moments I looked at my husband and tearfully asked if it would not be more kind to but her out of her misery. We trudged on and after two weeks of intensive, round the clock care, Flora was able to drink from a bucket on her own. Soon to follow was nibbling hay, then eating without assistance, and finally she was up on her feet without aide. It was a glorious day! She was weak and delicate but she was making it and holding her own.
Eric and I often discuss the listeria incident and we agree, if we had had multiple goats ill with listeria, we would have had dead goats. The care level was too intense to have been able to stay ahead of multiple goats. We asked our veterinarian what he thought caused it because often it is an issue in the environment. He told us moldy wet hay, moldy feed or overcrowding was often the culprit, which he did not see in our barn. I give creds to The Bibbed Wonder, he is diligent about keeping the barn clean, dry, and healthy. Not only does he spread lime every few weeks when he completely cleans the barn, he also sprays a cleaning solution to disinfect. As for Flora, the vet felt that she was probably a bit stressed to begin with but the frigid temperatures brought on by the polar vortex exacerbated the situation. Again, we feel its better to be proactive rather than reactive so we are very careful with feed, clean feeding troughs and water troughs on a regular basis, as well as make sure all hay and bedding are dry and healthy. We have been lucky; we have not had another case of listeria since and I hope we never have one again.
Flora did not get pregnant last year and I was happy that she would not be taxed in any way. I was very apprehensive about her pregnancy this year and to be honest I am relieved she has delivered and is doing well. I have a soft spot for her, I don’t think one can fight so hard for the recovery of something and not have a special bond. Flora is friendly and loving, a wonderful mom, and a delight on the milk stand but she has not forgotten and I dare say not forgiven all the treatment she had to receive when she was sick. If she sees us coming with any kind of gadget, she is out as fast and far as her legs and fence will allow. Fortunately, aside from yearly boosters and yearly worming, we don’t have to administer a lot of medicine.
Flora is a wonderful example of what care, diligence, and strong will power can achieve. She has gone from being our delicate little sick goat to a wonderful mama and milk producer for our family. Hopefully, like Flora, we can all come out better and stronger on the other side of adversity. As always dear reader, keep up the good work of being safe, being smart, being strong, and washing those hands.