Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Back again

The goat posts, that is.  Although the first "Back to talking about goats" post is pretty sad.  Actually, really sad.  But since I try to be as honest as I can in this blog (well, except for maybe my weight) I'm going to go ahead and get the horrible goat story out of the way.

Oh, don't worry, Nettie is doing well.  Her udder looks like hell in a hand basket, but she's ok.  But it still doesn't make this story any better.  You'd better grab a cup of coffee / tea / soda because this is a long one....

Monday is a hectic day for me.  We have Ballet / Tap class in the morning (We, meaning Rhiannon.  Couldn't pay me enough to get into a pair of leotards.) and then we meet up with a homeschooling group about an hour and a half later for classes the rest of the afternoon so we normally don't get home until after 5 pm.  On the way to deliver some goat milk to a friend before classes, she said that one of our mutual friend's goats was in labor and not progressing.  She had to go back to work so we went to check on the goat for her.  When we got there, there were feet sticking out......and had been like that for approximately three hours.  With the other woman holding the front end of the goat, I went in to try and figure out what was going on.

Let me back up a second.  Adrian (the lady who owns the goats) just started her small herd of Nigerian Dwarfs last year.  Her and her husband are no neophytes when it comes to farming stuff (they have chickens, a horse and cattle in the family), but this was their first official kidding season.  They already had two or three other does give birth, unassisted with no complications and this doe was the last one of the group, and a little late at that.  And to say that these goats are small would be an understatement.  Not quite Pygmy tiny, but small enough that you can easily sit one in your lap without much trouble.  We were just over to their place the night before to disbud the kids and I was laughing at how funny the still pregnant one looked; tiny little stick legs with a huge barrel of a preggo belly on her.  She was showing a mucus plug so Adrian was pretty sure she was going to pop any day.  And in my head I wondered to myself how in the heck one would help an animal that small with a complicated pregnancy.  Of course now I feel like I somehow jinxed her.  Because that is exactly what happened less than 18 hours later.

Fast forward back to me behind the struggling doe in labor.

The doe was having contractions so I had to ease my fingers in between them as there wasn't much room.  I followed the legs up to try and find the head, but it was nowhere to be found.  It was behind the pelvic bone and even with my hand in the most compact position I could make it, there was no getting past her pelvis.  I could only get my fingers in to feel around.  No head, no teeth, just chest and what was the bent-back neck.  I tried to hook a finger around something but just couldn't get a hold of anything.  Tried to ease the legs back in to reposition it, but I could only get them so far back and the doe kept pushing.  After about fifteen minutes of trying, I gave up.  We both had to leave (I had a class to teach) so we settled the doe back in her hut and left.  I felt like such crap for leaving her.  Although honestly, I think the doe was in less pain without us messing around inside her, but something obviously had to be done.

Phone calls were made, I was able to get away from the homeschooling group for a few minutes to go check on her (no progress), and the decision was made by the doe's owner that as long as the doe wasn't in imminent danger or horrible pain that it would have to wait until she could get back home.

When school got out (for both of us, she is a teacher at the local high school), Rhiannon & I drove back to their house and Adrian had brought the doe up to the porch so we had more room.  She said that she made calls to the local vets.  The one who does farm visits wasn't available (of course) and the other vet said that she could bring the doe in and they'd do a cesarean for $400 (not including all the "extras", of course).  Adrian decided against taking her to the vet.  And I don't blame her one bit.  It's a hard decision.  You have the life of your livestock in your hands, but there are also financial decisions that have to be made.  $400 plus is a significant chunk of their income.

We tried rearranging the kid again and again, but there was just no getting past that tiny birth canal.  I even tried to hook something using a make-shift O.B. snare, but it just wasn't going to happen.  We let the doe rest.  We fed her cookies.  We talked over options.  We were both in agreement that there was no way that kid was coming out that way, at least in one piece.  We talked about cutting it apart (it had been dead for hours), but even that wouldn't have worked; the legs were the only leverage we had and if they were severed it still wouldn't help us get what was left out past the birth canal.  We discussed trying to save any kids still left inside of her.  Adrian went in the house to call her husband, get the clippers and a new razor blade.

Adrian's husband came home and they talked some more.  He came back with a .22 pistol and ended the doe's life in one of the most quick and humane ways possible.  Within seconds, we went to work.  He made a straight cut just through the skin (Adrian had just earlier shaved her side), then the two layers of muscle one at a time.  I held the intestines out of the way to reveal the uterus.  He quickly, but carefully sliced through the thin, yet tough uterine membrane so we could bring out the other kids, hoping beyond hope that they were still alive.  Except there wasn't any "they".  There was just one; the huge buck that had it's front feet out of the doe.  There was no way he would have been able to pass his head through the birth canal.

I felt like crap and I know Adrian felt even worse.  Her doe went through the last weeks of pregnancy with a huge, unwieldy belly, eight hours of painful labor, had two people thrusting their hands up her backside for hours and after all of that was finally rewarded with a lead projectile to the brain.  I know, I know....at least she's not suffering any more.  And I know there are those of you (not necessarily my blog readers) who have spent a thousand dollars on saving a animal and think we were stingy in not providing the doe with a potentially life-saving operation for the sake of four paper notes bearing Franklin's resemblance.  But it is what it is.  And I know I would have likely done the same thing if it were my doe because I had gone through this exact same scenario in my head just one month ago when Nettie was having pregnancy problems during her illness and recovery.  I researched the surgery online, watched videos and felt confident that if I absolutely had to do something, I could.

This tragic event ended Adrian's kidding season.  And it was a pretty crappy one for her too; every single kid was a buck.  She has already made it known that she will be re-vamping her breeding program starting with the sire of all those buck kids.  If you know of anyone that would like a Nigerian Dwarf buckling (or five) or a buck goat named Deuce Bigalow, give me a holler and I'll hook you up with Adrian.  Seriously.

In the mean time, thank you for taking the time to listen to me ramble on (and on, and on) about the goats.  I didn't mean for it to be a crappy goat post.  But I promise tomorrow I'll overload you guys on cute, bouncy, crazy goat kid pictures and even some good goat news.


  1. Carolyn, m'dear, it wasn't a crappy post. The situation and outcome could be called crappy, but your post was honest and helpful and informative to your readers. I can't believe the different birthing scenarios you have found yourself in this year. If we ever get back into goats, I want you nearby. I'm sure Adrian was so, so grateful that you were there to help and support her.

    Our posts can't be all sunshine and flowers if we want to share our true daily lives. Thanks for your honesty. It helps. If not today, then sometime in the future.

  2. Shineola happens. It's too bad there aren't more vets in your area that will make farm calls. Tell Rhiannon to do well on her science studies and go to vet school. I have a very tiny Nigerian, too, and I was chewing nails watching her balloon out when she was pregnant. We chose a small buck to mate her with, but even then, you never know. You all did the right things. I hope her next kidding season goes a lot better. I'll send down some LLF female mojo vibes.

  3. I'm sure we would have done the same thing. Actually, things like this is the reason I sold my goats. I couldn't quit worrying about what "might" happen.

  4. How terrible :( Sorry for your friends loss. I don't think you guys had a choice. The doe would have probably died anyways if she retained the dead kid........so sad

  5. Again I know nothing about raising goats but reading all your posts about them I have to ask, is it really worth all the time, effort and cost of feed for what you get out of them?

  6. Even we had complications this year and that is very rare outside of the occasional triplet that has to be bottle fed or the one Ewe we got that has such a huge utter that it drags the ground. For the last three years not one lost lamb or still birth until this year.

    It happens, you did your best.

  7. Oh man. That is definitely a bad day, but you did everything you could too.

  8. Poor Adrian! Y'all did the right thing, especially after figuring out there was just no friggin way to get that kid out. Life is hard, and life on a farm is even harder.

    Just another reason for me to not ever get goats.

  9. I've pictured this exact scenario in my mind- practiced and practiced mentally doing the same thing. We don't have a vet that makes house calls and the pet vets give me fits over the little things, like wormers. ((Hugs))
    Still think my goats are worth it!

  10. It is life but still hard when it needs to be done. I feel your angst. I've had to make these same decisions before and it sucks.

  11. Oh this sounds awful! We had to do things like this on a much larger scale delivering calves out of moms who got themselves mired down in the mud for hours but we saved the calf. Other times delivering calves out of young heifers (which I don't agree with fully need to be at least three yrs old) who were not quite developed and either had to do a C-section or cut them out! It is awful but sometimes as livestock owners we got to do what we got to do.
    It was fortunate that you were there to be of help no matter the outcome...

  12. Thanks all for your comments & pat on the back. I know I did what I could, but it's always nice to hear it from someone else :)

    Mike, Is it worth it? I'll do a post on it today or tomorrow & yammer on....too much to type right here :)

    MEMasterson, that's one of the reasons I DON'T want to have cows. I have a hard enough time trying to muscle up with the goats, I don't know how I could physically take on cattle.