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  • Writer's pictureTina

Update On Red

My faded red goat...

Welcome to Wednesday, dear reader. It is mid-week, and yet another week is filled with rain. Although the weather is not cooperating for the market season, I have some good news to share. Two weeks ago, I began giving my girl, Red, meloxicam, as suggested by our trusted vet. After almost two weeks of three pills nightly, I am starting to see a difference in my girl.

Many of you may know Red is my favorite girl. Her registered name is Honey Bell, but to us, she is Big Red. Because we don't have her registration papers, we don't know exactly how old she is. However, this year, we have noticed a vast difference in her appearance and her fall from leadership in the herd. Jenna said it best, "Red looks faded." Her coat is not as bright and shiny. Her movements are careful, and she does not push with the other goats like she used to. Instead, she moves away from the fray. The younger girls push her around and away from the feed.

The Bibbed Wonder and I decided it best to keep Red and Lily away from the billy goats. I am certain an unplanned pregnancy would kill both my girls. Right now, Red, Lily, and Merribelle are in the pasture across the driveway. Red and Lily were obviously depressed at being away from the herd. Eric brought Merribelle, our little Boher goat who gave birth to a single stillborn kid, to the pasture with Red and Lily to help boost their spirits. It seems to have worked. Red has new ears to bite and someone other than Lily to bellow at and fuss. Merribelle is happy to be the youngest and strongest, so she likes to try to keep Red and Lily away from the feed trough.

I now go into the pasture every night to do the feeding. I strategically placed myself between Red and Merribelle so Red could eat peacefully. Merribelle and I had a "come to Jesus" meeting about her bullying Red. I ended my speech with, "Keep it up, and I will haul your ass to the auction myself!" Merribelle did not get the message, so now I stand over them like a prison warden while they eat.

The girls are given extra grain to help them gain weight. Jenna says Red is not too thin; she is well within the healthy range. However, I think my girl looks far too thin. Jenna also pointed out I like my goats to be "chunkers." I do, it's true. I remember how strong, big, shiny, and robust Red was just a few years ago. It makes me sad to see her fade. However, I believe that with a bit of extra care, consistent medicine, and being in a peaceful pasture, Red will bounce back in no time.

During nightly feeding, I give Red and Lily three pills of meloxicam. Giving pills to the girls takes a bit of effort. They are now on to my intent and try to walk away when they see me coming. I now fill my pockets with licorice-flavored goat treats to give to them after the pills. This has made things go a bit more smoothly. Each night, I stick my finger in the back of their mouth and pry it open by pressing on their gums, stick three pills as far back in their throat as I can, and then hold their little mouths closed until they swallow. It is not as traumatic as it sounds. However, the girls don't enjoy me sticking my fingers in their mouths any more than I enjoy getting slimed with goat gums.

Lily is such an aggressive eater; I can put the pills in the feed in front of her mouth, and she gobbles them up. Red, however, is far too savvy to fall for such an easy out. Red has the uncanny ability to nibble around the pills, and they lie in the feed trough, slimy and melting. Thus, I continue to stick my fingers in her mouth, pop in the pills, and hold her mouth closed until she swallows. To make up for such a rude intrusion into her personal space, I spend several minutes grooming her with a horse brush. She enjoys the brushing and extra attention immensely.

Next week, we are again taking a break from the studio and spending some time doing much-needed farm maintenance. The weather looks dry, so we intend to clean out the barn, disinfect it, and bed one side down while the other side dries out. After we finish cleaning the barn, I plan to begin Operation Bathe The Goats. Red and Lily will be the first to receive a much-needed spa day. I believe Red will feel better after a bit of TLC. I hope it helps her to look not so faded.

The Bibbed Wonder and I agree that seeing our beloved animals age, fade, and lose their agility is hard. My first five original girls are aging out of the breeding program. Our grannie herd will be up to five. Our beloved Pit Bull, Chubby, is grey around the muzzle with cataract-clouded eyes. My hens are reaching the end of their lives, and my grumpy geese are over thirty years old. Our animal friends don't live long enough; losing them is painful. However, we will take comfort in knowing we have provided the best care and life for them that we can.

I will continue to dose Red and Lily with meloxicam every night without complaint of slimy fingers if it means they are comfortable. Chubs will receive his doggie pain meds and expensive treats to help his joints. My hens will continue to run around the yard, receive extra treats, and get vitamins in their water until they simply go to sleep and don't wake again. I'll continue to rescue my old grumpy geese even if it means being bitten in the face by the unappreciative beasts. We signed up for this, and their care is our responsibility. In my mind, it comes down to being a decent person, having a solid moral compass, and not treating animals as a commodity. They aren't things to be discarded when they age or wear out. They are living beings with hearts, souls, and feelings that give to us freely and expect so very little in return. The very least we can do is make their golden years comfortable and filled with love. Most animals don't live as long as we would like, but we have an obligation to give them our very best when we sign up for their care.

Now, I have a rambunctious red dog to walk, a faded red goat to sit with quietly for a few minutes, chickens to tend, and geese to be insulted by. It is a full morning...said with a smile. On this once again rainy day, stay safe, be smart, take your responsibilities to animals seriously, and keep washing your hands-especially if you have to stick your fingers in a goat's mouth.

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