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Not All Hats are Comfortable



There are things that I do, or more correctly help do, that I never imagined myself doing. Here on the farm, we are forced to wear many hats. Sometimes the hats are happy and comfortable. Other times, the hat feels like an itchy wool toboggan that is two sizes too small. This weekend was the itchy toboggan kind of weekend. Most of the time, our mother goats do very well in kidding season. Every once in a while, there are small issues, but we have learned with time and experience how to head those things off at the pass before they can become serious if they develop at all. This weekend was a reminder that no matter how proactive one is or how prepared one feels, situations will arise to take one out of his/her comfort zone.


Waddles, Jordan's Boer doe, was the last of the Boers to deliver. The Boers have been a bit of a challenge this year. Two of the three have abandoned at least one of her kids, creating a lot of work for us. This is just par for the course. At this point, we are comfortable and capable of taking care of bottle babies. Waddles delivered triplets. Sometime during the first night, one of her kids passed away. Our diary girl, Little Black, had adopted the second-born. We don't know if Little Black just cleaned her off and accepted her or if it was an accident because both were in labor simultaneously and in such close proximity. However, this left Waddles with just one baby. Things appeared to be going well until Friday.


Eric noticed Waddles did not come over to eat with the rest of the girls Friday night. She seemed a bit off, but she was up and eating hay. He noted her behavior change but was not concerned. Saturday morning, she again did not come to eat and did not get up. This is concerning behavior for her, and without a doubt, something is amiss. Her temperature was elevated but not too high. She could get up, and she walked about but was not interested in food. Eric gave her a shot of Vitamin B Complex with Thiamin, drenched her with a power drench, and gave her a shot of penicillin. These are all practices that are recommended and have worked in the past.


Sunday, she was a bit better, but still, she showed no interest in food. Eric tubed her and gave her electrolytes so she would not become dehydrated. When a goat is tubed, plastic tubing...think oxygen tubing...is run down her throat and directly into her stomach. We have had to tube only three goats in our five years of goat care. This experience never becomes any easier or less worrisome. If a tube is not run correctly, it can go into the lungs, and the dispensed liquid can drown the poor creature. We were shown by our vet how to do this. One tell-tale way to know you have correctly tubed the goat is by the smell that comes up from the tube. It should be gassy but not entirely off-putting. When Waddles was tubed, her stomach gas smelled like garlic and onions. This is not the smell of a healthy rumen. We know for sure her stomach is off. For humans, an off stomach is not necessarily a serious issue. For a goat, an off stomach can turn deadly very quickly. We have placed a call to our veterinarian and are waiting for a return call.


In the meantime, we are keeping an eye on her little one. She was given a supplemental bottle last night and this morning. We do not want to lose the little one while focusing on her mama. We also do not want her mama to stress about producing milk for her baby. The stark reality is we may end up with yet another bottle baby to take care of and feed. As long as Waddles recovers and is healthy, we will happily feed one more baby every four hours. It is a challenging schedule to maintain, but this is what we signed up for when we became stewards. Every year of goat care provides us with different, new, often stress filled scenarios. Unfortunately, not everything is bouncing baby goats, fun soaps, and smiles. If you think of it, send some good vibes to Waddles for a quick and full recovery. Also, give a mention to her little one for continued good health. As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, and keep washing your hands.

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