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Weather Not Fit for Man nor Beast



As I sit watching the wind whip through the trees on this cold, blustery morning, spring feels very far away. I am reminded that winter's icy bite will linger for several more weeks, and that makes me feel a bit disheartened. However, I believe we have dodged a proverbial bullet with the weather. It was calling for single digits, ice and snow for the weekend and upcoming week. The forecast has changed, and it will merely drop to the twenties with a chance for a wintery mix on Sunday. Although still cold, it is not the frigid, unbearable temperatures that are so hard on both man and beast.


Two years ago, when an arctic freeze set in, one of my favorite girls, Flora, came down with listeria. Listeria is often deadly to goats, and usually, if one goat comes down with it, the whole herd can be infected. We were very fortunate; only little Flora became ill. Listeria is usually caused by old, wet feed or hay, but the bacteria can be anywhere. My bib wearing wonder knows all these useful tidbits of information and is cautious and diligent about keeping the barn clean and only feeding prime quality grain and feed. Often the first sign of a listeria infection is head pulling. Head pulling is when the poor creature's head pulls off to the one side toward the flank, and she is unable to correct her posture. Along with head pulling, circling often accompanies it. Flora's head was slightly pulled, and she was not spinning, which made it challenging to identify the cause of her illness. Even our veterinarian had a difficult time diagnosing her illness. Once diagnosed, her condition quickly worsened. She lost the ability to stand, control her body, and most concerning, she lost the ability to swallow. She was a very sick little goat. Her care was intensive and constant. If we had had more than one goat affected by this terrible illness, we would have inevitably had dead goats. We were fortunate in that we were able to save Miss Flora. Our veterinarian told us that cold stress could bring on an illness that would usually be fought off.


We are indeed happy that this arctic blast is moving north and bypassing our neck of the woods. Not only is it miserable to be out taking care of our farm family in such cold temperatures, but it also taxes our beloved critters and makes for a miserable time. If you are bracing for the winter blast, we wish you warmth, comfort, and safety. These cold temperatures can be dangerous to both humans and animals. We hope everyone is considerate of our four-footed friends and their comfort and safety as well. As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, take care of those around you in this cold weather, and wash your hands.

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