Saturday, March 14, 2009
be careful what you wish for...
A while back (last year?) I was frustrated with my goats. Nanny (as pictured at left) was particularly a handful and, being relatively new at goat wrangling, I was working with less-than-to-be-desired fencing conditions (read: no fencing)
Nanny was tough to handle. We kept her stalled in the barn at night and tied out on a 30' lead
during the day, which we would rotate around a couple acres. What made her tough to handle was that 1. she had horns, and knew how to use them. 2. she weighed about 120 lbs. and was very, very strong. and 3. she was afraid of Ed so that left me to bring her out and back in everyday.
On January 5th, 2008 she had two babies - both bucklings, in the picture. The lighter colored one was, (drum roll please...) yes, you guessed it, "Billy" and the darker brown colored babe was named "Willy". Not because it rhymed with "Billy" but because he failed to thrive, yet had a strong will to live. He was my favorite.
Right after Dory, that is. We got Dory a while after Nanny first came to reside at Hope Farms. Dory was just a few months old in the summer of 2007. I know, you're asking "you have a favorite goat?"
It's true, I do. I love her.
There really is a point to this post. Now, what was it?
........................................OH! yes, I remember. Be careful what you wish for. I was so "done" with these goats! What a pain!! I wanted to trim down the herd to just two. Maybe just one! (Dory)
Last summer a friend of ours said he needed a new nanny for his herd. I told him Nanny would be perfect (he has fencing) and so we struck a deal. That left me with two bucklings and Dory. Well, buckings get big. They have horns. And...they stink a little bit. And, they're procreatively driven. Poor Dory.
I sold Billy. I can't remember when, but I was wearing shorts when they guy loaded him up so it must not have been winter. Wait, I'm wearing shorts now...nevermind. Billy was used for meat. (see disclaimer in last part of post)
A few months ago, Nanny had twins. One lived, one died, and because of complications, she died also. As much of a pain in my heiny as she was, I grieved for her.
Then, two months ago, Willy got sick. I thought he had an intestinal blockage as he was off food and water. I diagnosed him wrong. What he really had was urinary calculi and you can read all about it here . When I finally figured out what was wrong with him, I was heartbroken, and amazed that he's survived as long as he had. Usually, the goat will die within 24-48 hours. Willy hung on for 5 days. It was completely my fault. They were allowed to eat too much corn, which offset the calcium to phosphorus in his diet. (I knew as much with horses, to avoid the
combination of well water, and feeding 100% alfalfa hay, but had NO IDEA with goats what that could mean.)
On the last morning he was alive it was a sunny day and about 45 degrees. I sat with him in front of the barn and I had with me a small tote bag with pretzels, a book, lip balm, and had a cup of coffee with me also. He laid his head on my lap and bleated a soft, sad and telling noise. He was done. I made arrangements that morning to have him euthanised. Not the "city slicker" version of euthanasia, and there are some gentle (?) readers who might not like what I'm about to say, so be warned that there is an honest and potentially offensive description coming up.
It's no secret that the Hispanic population around here eat goats meat. I have heard that it is delicious, and I have heard that it's not-so-delicious. Either way, I knew that Willy had no 'disease' and he was otherwise healthy and I didn't want him to go to 'waste' so Ed called a guy and he and his father came to get Willy.
I told him what was wrong, but that his meat should be good and that I'd taken good care of him. (later, they guy told Ed that Willy had excellent meat, and no parasites - so indeed I had taken good care of him) I carred him to the truck (I think he weighed about 60 lbs. and he felt like he weighed 100 lbs. by the time I got him to the truck. I hugged him and told him that he lived a good life and that I was doing the best thing I knew how to do for him (aside from spending
thousands of dollars on surgery, and post-op care) and thanked him for his life. He bleated one last weak cry and then I bawled my head off.
So, all three of them are gone. The moral of the story is: be careful what you wish for.
The bad news? Sometimes even when we have good intentions, and try with all we have, our animals suffer from our lack of knowledge and money.
The good news? After I grieve, and allow myself to feel what I feel, I'm better for having learned and loved. And....Dory's Pregnant!!!! She should kid this next week, or the following. I'm guessing March 21st.
Then, I'm going to milk Dory. Goat's milk, goat cheese. BAAAAAA!!