Saturday, March 28, 2009

The School of Life is a Hard One

Our nubian goat mama, Quizzy, died last night.

Thursday morning Rachel went out to the barn to check on goats and found two not too newborn babies in the barn. They belonged to Quizzy, a little girl and boy. Rachel and Maggie saw the afterbirth. Babies were healthy. Quizzy was very hungry and thirsty. All appeared to be just fine.

Last year Quizzy had troubles with an engorged udder. Same thing this time. Her udder was so large it seemed like it blocked off the milk from flowing through the teats. Apparently this happens occasionally with very high-producing milkers. Her very giftedness of having an udder bursting full of milk seemed to prevent her babies from ever being able to get a full tummy. Nothing would flow.

Rachel massaged and tried hot compresses. We had the babies nurse, trying to relieve pressure. We gave her herbs. We fed hungry babies bottles so they wouldn't get so weak they couldn't suckle. Other than the udder problem, everything seemed just fine.

Yesterday Quizzy seemed like she was coming down with mastitis, an infection in the udder. We figured that was not so out of the ordinary and started antibiotics to clear it up. No other indications of problem till early afternoon. Maggie went out to check on her and give the babies their every 3 hour feeding. She came in the house and told me that it seemed like Quizzy was trying to push and have contractions, and Maggie wondered if there were still another baby inside.

You see, goats still look pretty pregnant even for a day or so, even after the babies are out. It takes a week to regain their slim figures. We assumed that her slighty enlarged tummy was normal. As the afternoon progressed she started to swell. Quizzy was not able to stand up and seemed to be getting weak. We decided that this problem must be much bigger than an engorged udder.

Of course we found this out right as I had to head to town for something. When I got back, I scrubbed up and steeled myself to make an internal investigation. The smell was horrid. Death. I asked Maggie to get me a bandana with something sprayed on it that smelled good. Gulped fresh air. Scrubbed up again, got on new gloves, tried again. At this point, Quizzy could not stand up. We turned her over onto her other side and palpitated her swollen abdomen. Now we were able to feel what appeared to be limbs. Still and dead.

The cervix had gone back up inside Quizzy. It was not open even 2 cms. I couldn't get past it to get to the baby to get it out. My friend Donna J. at Brambleberry Farm suggested that lutylase would be the only thing that might help, but you have to get it from a vet. It is a drug that stimulates contractions and is used when trying to get placenta expelled. We figured that there was no chance of getting some of that, especially on a Friday night.

I called a few other friends with goats to see if there were any other things we might try. Kirsten, at Arcadia Farms answered her phone. She had lutylase left over from a goat with troubles earlier in the year. Of course she would share. We got in cars and drove to the Fincastle Courthouse to meet halfway. By the time I got home Quizzy was dead. The infection had spread to her body and she couldn't fight it off anymore.

Maggie and I cried. We said our goodbyes. We gathered up trembling cold hungry babies and brought them to the house to sleep in the dogloo with a warm water bottle.

Maybe we could have done a few things differently. If I had observed the birth, maybe I would have known that something was wrong. Maybe if she hadn't struggled with the engorged udder we would have known that signs of infection were from another problem, not mastitis. Maybe if I hadn't gone to take care of business in town and had stayed and gotten lutylase in the afternoon we could have saved her.

Maybe not.

As it is, we learned a lot of things that will help us know what to look for in future birthings. We learned that it is good to call all your goat friends when you don't know what to do, because we all can share experiences and can troubleshoot and encourage. We learned that we can do more than we think we can. I never thought I could do an internal examination of a goat who was filled with rotten dead matter. We learned that healthy adorable baby goats who are hungry help a person to move on and not be sad for too long.

Maggie and Rose dressed them up in doll clothes and hats this morning. Little Comet, the baby boy, finally got hungry enough to take a bottle. Stella has no problems with bottles. She has a problem with peeing on the ktichen floor. Well, I guess she doesn't see that as a problem. I have a problem with her peeing on the kitchen floor. Back to the barn.

When things slow down, I need to post about baby chickens, more baby goats, fixing electric fence, Duncan, the Piedmontese bull coming over to visit Coco the cow, planting many pounds of onions, getting the tractor stuck in the creek and the joy of getting in unstuck, dead ducks, found egg cache, blooming trees, more rain, puddles, green grass, watercress, daffodils and the forsythia in full bloom.

Until then, gotta get back to school. The farm is waiting impatiently while I type.


Belynda said...

So sorry about your mama goat. The thought of you having two baby goats in the kitchen, all dressed up and peeing on the floor, though, makes me laugh. Hope you have a good rest of your day.

CountryDew said...

Poor mama goat. I am glad that she had her two babies okay, though.

hollywould said...

i'm sorry that you lost quizzy. that is very sad; she was a good goat to you for a long time.

but your springtime discoveries sound wonderful. watercress! one of the healthiest and most delicious things you can eat!

my love and kisses to the new babies.