Dangit

Some mornings I discover cute newborn goat babies in the barn, happily romping around and calling for their mamas.  That’s one of the joys of this life.

Some mornings I discover dead kids.  That’s one of the crappy things about this life.   And one of the things that make it real.

Yesterday morning I found newborn triplets in a barn stall–two dead and one barely alive.  Fancy, their mother, had seemingly abandoned them.

I warmed up the survivor and gave her a little milk from Squeaky’s bottle.  Fancy was in the back part of the pasture and I wanted to ring her neck.  She hadn’t cleaned and warmed the babies and seemed to have no interest in tending to the living kid.

Later I caught her and dragged her into the stall with the kid, to try to compel her to take care of it.  It was then that we noticed that she was anemic.

Now I’m worried about her too.  The mamas are tough and almost always recover from tough pregnancies.  But she’s clearly not well.

The little kid is taking the bottle, but hasn’t gotten any strength in her hind legs yet. They rarely survive under those conditions.

Not the way we wanted to end this kidding season.

Advertisements

16 comments on “Dangit

  1. shoreacres says:

    Ah, shoot. Sorry to hear that. I am curious how you noticed that Fancy’s anemic. I’m sure you’re not doing blood tests there in the barn. Do you check gums and eyes? I think I remember you saying something about that in the past.

    I do hope Fancy perks up, and the kid, too. That has to be so tough.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We can tell from the color of the membrane around her eyelids. In this case she had a swelling under her jaw which is also an indication.

      She seemed perfectly healthy the day before but I didn’t check her carefully.

      She’ll be fine I expect. The kid didn’t make it.

      Like

  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, sorry to hear about the morning kid news. The possibility of birthing problems seem to be higher with goats and sheep. Maybe that’s why Dad never raised either of those. After I left for college, he did get a few sheep just to keep the weeds down in the unused pastures. I don’t think he bred them. I suppose they had to be sheared but that’s about all the maintenance he gave them.

    I hope that Mom and kid will make it and beat the odds against them. Have the best goat birthing day that you can.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks Dave. This breed of goats has a high mortality rate when kidding, but some years are worse than others. This has been a bad one. I think the mama will recover fine, but the kid didn’t make it. Hate seeing her lose all 3 like that.

      Like

  3. Jeff says:

    I have no experience in agriculture but I’ve often wondered if animals don’t have an awareness of the “survivability” of their offspring. If the chances are slim, the mothers abandon the babies – if not, they nurse them. Genetic fitness and all that kind of thing.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      It’s definitely the case. The mothers can sense it even when it isn’t obvious to us. We’ve intervened to care for rejected babies many times and not once has the kid survived long-term, even when they made it past weaning. The mothers can tell if a kid has something wrong with it and they will not use any milk or energy on it. Goat behavior is oriented around survival and strength of the herd. It’s fascinating, even if disconcerting to our human sensibilities.

      Like

  4. Eumaeus says:

    poor girl. hope she gets better, that you get the baby to survive and she takes it again. tough stuff.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I think Fancy will recover. They’re amazingly resilient. But the little kid didn’t make it. Definitely a downer. We have one nanny left to kid and hoping she ends the season for us on a high note.

      Like

  5. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Bill, besides reading your posting, I also read the comments and your replies. So I know that Fancy may get better and that her three kids died. I found what you told us about goats and survival so interesting. There on the farm you are so close at all times to nature in all its beauty and its mortality. I’ve lived with cats for the last forty-some years and I think they help me accept the arc of life from birth through death and thus help me realize my own mortality and the preciousness, wonder, and mystery of the day. And of any life. Peace.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Beautifully said Dee. We deal with death here a lot. Sometimes it seems like every day. As my wife says, in some ways it hardens you. But we also get the great privilege of witnessing and partnering in constant and amazing renewals of life. As you say, “nature in all its beauty and its mortality.” Every day is indeed precious, wonderful and mysterious. And each day has value. Just like every life.

      Like

  6. I love Dee’s response …

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Me too. I hesitated to post about the loss of those kids. It’s not the sort of thing I expect people want to read about. But it’s part of the reality.

      Like

  7. Steve says:

    I am glad you posted this. I am a little concerned that some folks view the local food and farm trend through Disney colored lenses, where every sunrise is lovely and not only do animals never poop, they break out in song. We lost some hens and several beehives in this brutal winter, and each loss reminds us of how challenging it is to keep moving forward. We’re also humbled by the thought of how hard life must have been for the early settlers and pioneers who were so vulnerable.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Well said. Although I try not to dwell on the unpleasant realities of this life, they’re real. There is detail to this story that would make it even more real, which I didn’t share.

      You’re so right about our ancestors. For us it’s frustrating, sad even, if a crop fails or an animal dies. For them, as it was for thousands of years, it might mean their own deaths. It’s hard for me to even imagine the kind of awe, humility and gratitude that would be instilled in lives like that.

      Like

  8. Thanks for sharing this story. So far we only have chickens and we’ve lost a few to predators and had a few chicks that didn’t quite make it to hatching out. Your post is helping me to prepare for the near future when we start adding pigs and goats or sheep, which I can only imagine at this point, will be much more difficult to handle.
    I had the same reaction to Steve’s comment – “well said”.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I discovered a dead hen in the coop this morning. It’s just a reality. Having to put down suffering animals is the worst. Slaughtering them for food is not much better. Neither is seeing them killed or maimed by predators (and having to defend them with violence). I don’t write about it much, but I’ve taken on the subject before. This way of living requires an appreciation of the realities of the circle of life.

      But as hard as it can be, the joys and satisfaction outweighs the sadness.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s