On Monday, October 9, 2006 at 6:15 am every farmers nightmare came true: a pair of dogs wandered up my 1/4 mile long driveway, by-passed the sheep and the horse, walked across the barnyard and into the barn. In the barn, they climbed over a four foot high wall and attacked my beloved dairy goats. In less than five minutes, it was all over: two goats killed outright and four others badly torn up.
I was in the house feeding the dogs prior to feeding the horse and checking on the livestock. My livestock guardian dog, Journey, was in the house having breakfast and getting his ears checked. He had only recently been put back on patrol. In May he had been attacked by a pair of coyotes and severely injured. He suddenly went crazy and definitely let me know that something was up. I went running outside to see what was up and walked into the dark barn without turning on the light. In the darkness, I could see the outline of two of my white goats. Something was definitely wrong. As I leaned over the door to get a better look, something rushed at me. I am very thankful that it was the white dog that leapt for me as I would not have seen the brown one. I ran and turned on the light and saw the mayhem. Then I saw the dogs....they never made a sound--no growling or snarling, but their body language was all business. Once the goats were down and not moving, the attack stopped.
I ran and called Animal Control (in Wake County you get a peppy advertisement for the upcoming mutt walk, I was not amused). I then called the Sheriff who quickly connected me to Animal Control. Next I called a friend and then called the vet. Things became a bit surrealistic: Animal Control came and captured the dogs. He apologized for taking so long but he lived quite a ways away. The Animal Control man was a very kind and compassionate person who waited until the vet arrived. My friend, Elaina also showed up and was a great help. Dr. Eaton walked into the barn with her repair kit, took a good look and went back to her truck to get her solutions. We then assessed the remaining four living goats. Three were beyond saving and had to be put to sleep. One, Wasabi, had a 50/50 chance of making it. As I knelt there in the stall, I was thinking "Okay, this will be expensive, very expensive. And you will have a permanent pet. Even if she can't ever be bred, you know you will never sell her." I knew it was an emotional decision, but I decided to go for it. We loaded the dead goats in the back of my pickup truck and parked Wasabi behind the front seat and headed for the vets.
At the vets, Wasabi was put into a horse stall and technician Justine and I looked for bite marks. We located most of the bites by feeling for slobber. Then Justine would shave the area so it could be treated and kept clean. Dr. Eaton did a great job of putting in a drain tube, sutures and staples on the bigger wounds. The poor goat had hundreds of bite and slash marks all over her body. Most were concentrated on the neck, head and front legs. There was a deep puncture wound on her right front leg that was a cause for concern. The deep puncture wound on her left leg led us to believe that her left front leg would probably have to be amputated. She was worked on for about three hours (!) and had a catheter put into her neck so she could receive IV fluids (1000 ml), antibiotics, pain killers, steroids, and other medicines. All we could do was wait and see after that.
Tuesday, October 10
Wasabi is still alive and seems alert. Vet is concerned that she is not getting up on her own and will only briefly hold her weight up on the front end and then collapses in pain. We are hoping that a few more days of muscle relaxants, pain killers and antibiotics will help. All of this is through an IV--she is completely in outer space but still interested in her surroundings.
I brought in a sling borrowed from a friend so we can stand Wasabi up from time to time. There are two big concerns when an animal is injured. First, if they go off feed (refuse to eat) it can "shut down" the digestive system and it often fails to restart and the animal needs to be put down. Second, if an animal doesn't get up and walk, they can develop pneumonia and die. As a result, we are desperate to keep her eating and get her up and moving. I bring lots of treats, *ahem*, "goat training aids" that I use to bribe, er, "reward" the goats during training.
She is having trouble regulating her temperature (shock, blood loss, trauma) and is shivering. I purchase a dog coat and wrap her in aluminum foil (shepherd's trick to get a hypothermic lamb warm) and then put her dog coat on. Several techs stop by to admire coat and confide that she gives great goat kisses. The techs will keep an eye on her and remove or put on the coat as needed.
I start visiting Wasabi twice a day before and after work. When I stopped by to see her, I found two different kinds of hay and two piles of feed in front of her and I noticed that her bag of treats is going down at a considerable rate. I've also occasionally caught the most unlikely people kneeling in her stall trying to bribe her into standing up. This is definitely becoming a group effort. Even the construction crew has been stopping by to check on the goat. She is certainly getting plenty of attention (and treats).
I've brought by a dog gate so Wasabi can look at the outside world. Hope is that she will want to join in the activities. My paraphrase of vet orders: leave stall door open, if goat leaves stall, reward goat and lead back to stall. Unfortunately, this never happens. Current major concern is that she is not getting up and walking.
Pictures of Wasabi in her catheter. Her appetite remained good; an encouragement to us.
Wednesday, October 11
I'm still in shock over the attack. The goat attack was rough. Dogs are very brutal as they don't make clean kills. Rather, they simply tear everything apart. Often, the victim is left alive but should have been mercifully killed. Even Animal Control was quite shook up when they saw the wholesale slaughter. The "survivors" were so in shock that it was difficult to put them to sleep. I felt sorry for Dr. Eaton as she was trying to put them down quickly.
I've been amazed by the outpouring of condolences and offers to help me care for the goat. I hadn't realized that this many people even knew who I was <g>. The emails and phone calls have helped smooth the edges a lot. Once Wasabi comes home, I'll be asking for volunteers to check on her mid-day when I'm at work.
Thursday, October 12
It dawned on me yesterday that we have possibly been exposed to rabies through the slobber on the goat. I spend the day trying to call Animal Control but have no direct contact number. I keep getting the stinking Animal Shelter recording and not particularly helpful people who claim I shouldn't be concerned. Considering that the dogs had no tags, no proof of rabies, we have a surviving goat who may have been bitten by rabid dogs, not to mention that it is an occupational hazard that all vets, vet techs, and farmers have scratches on their hands at all times and we located injuries by feeling for slobber, I AM very concerned and don't appreciate the brush off. I am increasingly frustrated by the lack of concern over possible rabies exposure by the people I have managed to talk to. I'm finally passed through to a supervisor and have to leave a message. She does return my call and has the Animal Control Officer who came out Monday call me. At last! Someone who understands my concern. The dogs are put on ten days rabies watch. I'm presuming that since I wasn't called by the 19th, that we are in the clear. I am very relieved that no one has to have the post exposure shots, nor put the animal down.
I was asked why I didn't just shoot the dogs. First, not every farmer has a gun. I never needed one before as my pair of livestock guardian dogs had always been more than enough. However, I had to put one down in March as he was suffering from extreme arthritis. The remaining one has just recovered from a coyote attack followed by getting caught in a flash flood (very bad day for the dog). A few years back, there were more farmers around and they "thinned" the loose dog population. Secondly, my barn has a very thick concrete floor. I don't mind blowing a hole in the wall of the barn for a good cause, but a bullet ricocheting in the barn would not have been fun. I do have plans to take an NRA gun safety course this winter and getting a good "dog" gun. I think it wise to learn how to properly care for and shoot a gun before buying one.
Wasabi gets a friend for company. I was loaned a friendly Angora goat to keep her company. How's that for a friend? Elaina takes a doe out of her breeding group so that my goat could have company. Zoey very quickly endears herself to the crew.
I got a wonderful surprise when I got home from work: my church has sent a beautiful boquet of flowers. I love fresh flowers! It was so uplifting to have this recognition of my loss and grief. I didn't just lose a beloved herd of goats, but I also lost the start of my dairy business and have to scramble to find the funds to start over.
I also had to marvel over the intrepid delivery person. They had to wade through a sea of three large dogs to get to my front porch!
Friday, October 13
Wasabi is still unable to walk. Dr. Eaton and crew have come up with the idea of hydrotherapy. On my way in this morning, I met two men on a mission. They were on their way out to find and purchase a stock tank to "Float a Goat" in. She is now getting warm water hydrotherapy to encourage the use of her legs and to keep the circulation in them going. She does not appreciate this at all. She continues to make progress, despite refusing to get up and walk. Sign on door now says "NO Food, just hay". It's hard to motivate a goat who has been stuffed full of treats.
I'm impressed with the dedication of vet and staff to work with "just a goat". There is one fellow who from day one got named Mr Doom and Gloom. He'd greet me every morning with the pronouncement that "they get pneumonia and die if they don't get up." Yes, I am painfully aware that a downer animal tends to die. I do know that he means well and is just trying to put the voice of reason out there. Shepherds tend to be very optimistic and sometimes need a reality check. I know that unless God answers our prayers, Wasabi will have to be put down.
I'm also impressed with two of my fellow shepherds. Elaina and Joy hear the ups and downs of Wasabi's progress and offer encouragement and hope. I am so grateful that Elaina was able to come over right after the attack. I could count on her to help me make the right decisions on the goats that needed to be put down. More importantly, I also knew that both she and Joy would also gently let me know when it was time to let Wasabi go.
I am surprised by the number of people who know about Wasabi. Complete strangers even know her name! I get strangers coming up to me asking "how's Wasabi?". Vets on farm calls also get asked about the goat at the clinic. This is getting very big and taking on a life of its own.
Monday, October 16
I talked to Dr. Eaton this morning and discussed Wasabi's progress. I feel that this could be a long term recovery and that some things just take time. Another friend, Joy, reminded me that if humans had had severe emotional and physical trauma that they could take months to heal. I do realize that goats are not human (though sometimes they think they are), but Wasabi learned in a violent five minutes that if you stay down and don't stand up, the dogs will leave you alone. She's also a stubborn goat who shamelessly wheedles treats out of any and all bystanders. She appears content to sit in the stall eating her treats and hay.
There is a whole group of us racking our brains and asking for advice on how to outsmart a goat. Wasabi has learned that she can drape her head and neck over the side of the stock tank and float in the water with no effort on her part. The techs got wise to her and learned to push her head away from the side of the tank. Dratted goat then figured out that she could jam her shoulder into the side of the tank. So much for making her swim or stand!
My new sling arrived. This one has a chest strap and a butt strap so Wasabi is easier to manipulate in it. Ropes are hung from a beam and the sling is attached to it. This stands Wasabi up and supports part of her weight. Treats aren't enough of an incentive to maker her move, but the Hot Shot gets her attention in a hurry. Fortunately, she is very smart and you just have to show it to her and then walk behind her to get her working out: standing and moving around in the sling.
Another concern is the abcesses on both front legs. There appears to be one large abcess on the right leg and three on the left. Poor goat is getting many shots a day. Despite all of the handling, shots, etc. Wasabi is still alert, responsive and seems quite willing to keep fighting.
I am blessed by having great friends. Carolyn Beasley and her sons, James and John, come over to clean the goat stall for me. The stall was starting to smell. In short order, these hard working young men had stripped the stall down. Then they volunteered to clean out the sheep stall "while they were there". Carolyn and I scrubbed the walls twice with Simple Green which did a great job. After the stalls were cleaned out, they helped fill in some tunnels that my livestock guardian dogs had dug and then hung gates at the entrance to my farm. Not only was a nasty job done for me, but I found myself way ahead on my "To Do" list.
How to transport a downed goat to the tank. Notice the bag of treats...
Who signed me up for this?! I did NOT volunteer for this...
Tuesday, October 17
Definitely a crash and burn day. I'd been warned that I'd have an adrenaline crash about a week after the attack. This is no fun.
The attack had several consequences: the immediate trauma of the injured, dying and dead goats to all who saw it, the loss of these goats (dairy goats are very people oriented, as a result many dairy goats end up as working pets), but also the loss of my future business. God clearly told me to "Get dairy goats"; not something I would have volunteered for as I don't do mornings. He knew what He was doing, I love milking them and have a knack for making cheese. I carefully purchased dairy stock and was on track to get my Grade A license within two years. I'm now back to square one.
Worst of all, I really miss the jaunty group of goats racing me down the driveway in the evenings and loudly reminding me to feed them breakfast in the morning.
I try to remember that life is beautiful because of the contrast between the light and the dark.
Wednesday, October 18
We are desperate to get Wasabi up and moving. We know she hurts, but it is very important that she gets up and moving. Unfortunately, nubian goats tend to be wimps. They are also very smart and are quite good at getting away with it. She has made groaning a fine art. They vary from sad, exhausted whimpers to outright groans. Some is real but some is also theatrical--a good performance nets her lots of her favorite flavor of cookies: Ginger Ridge Super Stars. Apparently she loves the anise orange flavor better than the Meadow Mint flavor (peppermint). Kim, one of the techs kept telling me that these are her favorite flavor. Being a bit dense, I just said "oh, okay". Kim repeated to me that this is Wasabi's favorite flavor. Hmmmm...Finally she states "we are almost out". Ohhhh, I'll be sure to bring another bag in tomorrow.
Dr. Eaton calls me and tells me about NC State's Vet School's "Aqua Cow". This is a tank big enough to float a cow in (they do this?!). I call and make arrangements to rent it. Hit a snag, it doesn't use a ball hitch. It's a pin hitch. My truck can't tow it as the hole in my bumper is blocked by the Reese hitch. The ball on my Reese hitch is solidly rusted to the shank and cannot be removed. Dr. Clayton kindly volunteers to get the Aqua Cow and we are back in business.
I arrive that afternoon to see a goat in a sling in the tank. It is sloooowly being filled with water. Definitely needs a higher pressure hose to fill it quickly. Worse yet, the water is leaking out almost as fast as it is going in. After 30 minutes, we have two inches of water and a soggy shivering goat. Time to take her out, dry her off and try again the next day.
I am very fortunate to have a vet who is willing to work with me. It is clear that she has made Wasabi her personal mission and is determined that Wasabi will walk out of the clinic. I also frequently see Kim shortly after I get to the clinic to visit Wasabi. It is obvious that she has bonded to Wasabi (and Wasabi to her). I get told of her shenanigans-- she'll either obviously ignore the person harassing her by pointedly turning her head away from the offender or she'll tuck her head into their shoulder and groan. Kim is doing a great job; treatments and physical therapy are key to Wasabi's recovery. The care and concern of Dr. Eaton, Kim and many other people (inlcuding Lee Anne's assistance during hydrotherapy) who helped treat Wasabi or just helped spoil her has been wonderful and a joy to see.
Thursday, October 19 -- Saturday, October 21
Aqua Cow is up and running. They fill the tank and just reuse the water. Goat is lifted into tank by her harness. She now has to swim and is exercising her legs. Still not walking, but she is moving her legs. Wasabi quickly figures out that if she swims, she gets treats. By Monday, she was beating the technician to the other end and demanding her treat.
Monday, October 23
I arrive and get greeted by Kim. We discuss Wasabi's lack of progress in standing up on her own. They've noticed that even when swimming, she doesn't rotate the shoulder at all. Xrays are in order to see if the upper left front leg is broken or damaged beyond repair. The leg may need to be amputated if there is a bad break. When I get there in the evening, I got to see how in-the-field xrays are done. I don't have my camera with me so I'll try to describe the machine. Basically it looks like one of those bright yellow underwater cameras you see the scuba divers using in Jacques Cousteau. Where the light would be is the business end of the machine. This is pointed at the area to be xrayed and the plate is put on the other side of the leg. They cannot get the leg to "wing out" enough to get a good xray of the upper leg. We do know that her elbow looks great...
Tuesday, October 24
I've faced the reality that we may have to put her down. It's made worse by the fact that I'll be leaving town for the weekend to vend at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Fletcher. I feel immensely better once I've had a nap and something to eat.
Good news is that Dr Adderholdt has volunteered the use of the dog xray machine to do her xrays.
Wedsneday, October 25
The xrays were done. I find Wasabi lying on her side looking totally wasted. She's recovering from anesthesia. She looks awful, can't sit up, zoning in and out, and groaning. She does seem to know I'm there, though. I stay until she is awake enough that her righting instinct (the desire and ability to sit upright on her chestbone instead of flat on her side) is fully operational. She quickly takes advantage of the situation to demand treats which I refuse for fear of choking. She is shivering so I throw a blanket on top of the dog coat. This also allows the flash on my camera to work properly. The reflective strip on the dog coat "blinded" my camera!
Thursday, October 26
The results of the xrays are great. Leg is not broken or dislocated so we will not have to amputate the leg. We don't know why Wasabi refuses to get up and walk voluntarily. Time is running out. The vet mentions the possiblity of having to put her down. It's not fair to the goat to have her go through life on her knees.
Despite all the technicians hard work during physical therapy, her tendons are contracting. Her "good" front leg no longer straightens out. I had not realized how quickly tendons contract when an animal is down. I know that she will never walk unless it is straightened. Dr. Cochrane fitted her splint which Dr. Eaton will put on when she returns from her farm calls.
I know that in the week after SAFF, I'll have to make a hard decision. If she makes no further improvement by November 9th, I'll have her put down.
Monday, October 30
I'm on pins and needles to see if the splint works. She sort of tries to get up but slides across the floor. I am glad to see that she is trying on her own. She wobbles like she's drunk and tends to bounce off the walls. Not really viable at this point but I'm hoping that this is the result of weakness from being bedridden. They put bales of hay in the corners to cushion her crash landings. I'm encouraged by this small bit of progress.
I have to laugh over her antics when she has decided that she's had enough therapy. She will lower herself to the floor and then, with much groaning, flop onto her side. If this doesn't get a response, she will theatrically fling her neck back with her nose pointed up in the air and ears spread out beside her. She ruins the effect when she pauses and then glances at you out of the corner of her eye to gauge your reaction.
Recovering from anesthesia
I'm up, where are my treats?
One soggy and tired goat
This splint is NOT comfortable
This is part of what is so frustrating in treating her. She is so interactive and engaging. She has not given up. If she gave up, it would be easier to put her down. Instead, she is shamelessly hustling us for treats and doing her best to avoid any extra work.
Tuesday, October 31 - Wednesday, November 1
The next two days I'm cautiously optimistic. It appears that she's getting better, but I'm not sure how much is wishful thinking and how much is reality. I continue to encourage her to get up and walk a few steps for me. She is still very wobbly and tends to crash land on a regular basis. They had to remove the splint because her toes were getting cold. When she walks, she knuckles over (hoof bends and she ends up on her knuckle). This should improve as she gets used to walking on three legs.
Thursday, November 2
I arrive to visit with Wasabi and encourage her to walk. I find her lying down looking very pleased with herself. I pet her and talk to her. Then I hear scuffling in the aisleway and hear "I want to tell her. No, I want to tell her". Dr. Eaton and Kim come rushing into the stall to tell me that Wasabi gets up and walks! No harassment needed, just gentle encouragement. I am so excited to see her up on her own. She is much steadier on her feet. All talk of putting the goat down ends.
She is definitely feeling more chipper and full of herself. When she got tired of "performing", she tried to lie down. When we persisted in asking her to move, she sighed, walked to the pile of hay in the corner and crash landed into it, giving the offending person "the full moon".
Dr. Eaton getting mooned by a goat
Friday, November 3 - Monday, November 6
It gets easier and easier to walk Wasabi around. On Saturday, I noticed that she is putting weight on her bad leg--the one we were thinking of removing! On Monday, she is lying down near the back of the stall but gets up and meets me at the door when I arrive for our evening visit. I plan to talk with Dr. Eaton about exit plans: treatments that I need to continue when I bring her home. I'm hoping to bring her home Friday. This way I'd be home all day for the first few days home. I'm also hoping to find a few volunteers who will check in on her mid-day to make sure she hasn't gotten herself stuck in a corner of the stall or is distressed. It's going to be hard changing over from lots of people at her beck and call to beg cookies out of to being home by herself.
Tuesday, November 7
Wasabi is doing splendidly. You can see an obvious difference in her demeanor with every day that passes. She is delighted to be walking around. This morning, one of the techs discovered that Wasabi will stand on her hind legs for Cheerios. She is acting more and more like a normal goat! (That is an animal lover for you: the tech was sharing her breakfast with a goat.)
I am so appreciative that Dr. Eaton persevered in Wasabi's treatment. Common sense should have told us to stop, but we were willing to keep going if the goat was willing to work with us. I know that the vet had a lot of pressure put on her to stop treatment and let the goat go. It is very unusual for an animal to stay down so long and make it. I'm glad to report that we can say "we told you so". I do want to make clear, though, that if at any point Wasabi had given up, I would have had her put to sleep.
Thankfully, I get to take her home this weekend. I'll need to flush the wounds on the left leg twice a day until they close and heal up properly. I was hesitant about flushing the wounds on my own goat. I've had plenty of experience flushing wounds in various species of animals, but it's still gross. Of course, I can and will do it. Then when Dr. Eaton was describing how they flushed the wound out, I realized that compared to how gross things were on October 9th, this is nothing. Flushing a wound isn't gross any more.
Prayers for an uneventful full recovery would be appreciated.
Thirty two days after the attack, Wasabi is packed up and ready to go home. I am given all the necessary stuff for flushing her wounds out. She still has draining abcesses on both front legs. I'm hoping that I can keep them flushed and draining so that they heal up well.
I notice on the discharge sheet a note that wishes me good luck weaning her off all the treats. This could be a problem...She was put behind the front seat for the ride home (I have a truck with an extended cab). While Kim and I were talking, the ratfink got up, found my brownie and ate the entire thing!!!
I drop off Zoey, her goat friend, at Elaina's and then take Wasabi home. Wasabi unloads herself and follows me into her new stall. Bellowing ensues when I leave her. I turn on the radio, leave the light on, give her a few treats and pats and leave her be.
Saturday, November 12
I flush out the wounds, managing to liberally spray myself as well. Lots of gunk is coming out of the wounds. Wasabi does not like this at all but fusses when I leave. She spends the day wandering around the barnyard and sunning herself. She is horrible about begging for treats; if you even look at her she starts licking her lips and begging. She occasionally walks using the bad leg. This seems to be helping to move the gunk out. She is off antibiotics, but I'm using a very weak Betadine solution to flush the wounds twice a day.
Sunday, November 13
She is enjoying wandering around and seems fascinated by Pinky, the cow. Pinky arrived yesterday; I traded some nice border leicester sheep for her and her calf. Best of all, within a few weeks I'll have some more goats to keep Wasabi company.
Going home in style
Monday, November 14-- Wednesday, November 15
It has been an interesting week. Jame and Cheryl have been visiting Wasabi mid-day to make sure that she moves around and that she didn't get herself stuck in a corner.
On Wednesday, Mike let me have one of his goats as a buddy for Wasabi. Thank you, Mike! Wasabi now has a permanent buddy so that she isn't all by herself. Getting Granny, the goat, into the truck was easy as she follows food anywhere. We got her loaded into the truck without incident. While talking to Mike, she decided that she prefers to sit in the passenger side seat....it was an interesting ride home. She has a quieter "voice" than most nubians, insists on the passenger seat, and loves to look out the window. Once home, I got my camera and rolled down the window to get a picture. Didn't work out so good, Granny leapt out the window (!). I guided her to the barn and introduced her to Wasabi. They get along great and Wasabi has taught Granny how to beg. Granny fits right in but has been given the full name of "Super Granny" by Elaina.
Thursday, November 16 -- Sunday, November 19
I continue to clean out foul smelling ick out of Wasabi's wounds. There has been progress on volume of ick that needs to be cleaned out. The lowest wound on her left front leg had a patch of skin that was looking like it wanted to die. It did and is now contracting and about the size of a nickel. On Thursday, I went to clean it out (eeewww) and the corner of the scab lifted up and I got gifted with a copious amount of the stuff (double eeeewww). It is much easier to clean out but I've learned to eat breakfast before I tend to Wasabi as for some reason my appetite is gone afterwards.
Monday, November 20 -- Friday, December 1
Wasabi is healing very well. She has the full use of three legs and occasionally will use the fourth leg to balance. The wounds have closed up and I can't feel any more infection in them. She and Granny are very well bonded. When I lead them to pasture, Granny runs up ahead. When she notices that Wasabi isn't with her, she will run back and slowly walk with Wasabi to the pasture.
Saturday, December 2
I've been given the opportunity to pick up three bred does from Goat Lady Dairy. Lee has freed up three does: two nubians and one saa-nubian (saanen nubian cross). I am impressed with their herd of goats. The set up is lovely, too. I even got to peek at the milk room and cheese room. I bring the three girls home and put them in the stall across from Wasabi and Granny. There is much visiting across the hallway, with goats either looking at each other through the mesh doors or reared up and bellowing at each other over the partitions.
Did you say "treats"?
We have two bowls, but like to share this one
Not the best picture of Peppermint, but no one looks graceful when eating!
Denala (renamed Denali) on the left, Wilma on the right.
The biggest treat was finding out that Wilma and Denali are still producing milk. I get to have fresh, raw goat milk and fresh chevre. Yum! They are such a pleasure to milk. I hadn't planned on milking during the winter, but I sure am enjoying it. Not sure how they feel when my icy fingers reach around their teats early in the morning...
Saturday, December 9
I finally decide to combine the two groups of goats. I'll be getting a pair of saanens from Old Dominion Dairy on Sunday and need the stall space for them. I find that I have become very protective of Wasabi. She was never the stoutest hearted goat in the bunch and I fear that three legs will mean that she gets bullied. Granny is a good buddy for her, but she was lowest man on the totem pole at her past home. I tough it out and combine the groups. To my surprise, Granny and Pepper take great exception to each other and proceed to bash each other silly for the next several days. Wasabi hides in the nearest corner and makes worried sounding noises, Denali and Wilma squeeze as close together as two fat nubians can and make little "meeping" noises of distress. Meanwhile Granny and Pepper are totally oblivious and continue to bash each other. They leave everyone else alone. I am totally caught off guard by Granny's behavior. A truce is called at dinner time. Fortunately, the head bashing ends within a few days; apparently Pepper has won the title of Herd Boss.
Sunday, December 10
I make the three hour drive to Mechanicsville, VA to meet Jolene and her husband at the Tractor Supply Store. I back my truck up to theirs and the goats can now walk straight across the tailgates to get into the pen on the back of my truck. These are quality saanen does with absolutely lovely heads, good front ends, udders with good attachments and a fantastic temperament. The trip home goes uneventfully and they get put into a stall by themselves to adjust. Once again, goats rear up against the wall and peer at each other across the aisle. Days later, I combine the two groups. Frick and Pattie are definitely low men on the totem pole. Frick is also milking and gives almost half a gallon a day with once a day milking. I am making batches of chevre to freeze so I will have cheese during the dry period when I will not be milking.
This is Frick, sister to Frack
This is Pattie-- notice the smirk? It took weeks before I got a picture of anything besides her rear end!
Monday, December 11 -- Wednesday, December 27
All seven goats now share a stall and go out to pasture together. Granny and Pepper no longer fight. Everyone agrees that Pepper gets the lion's share of everything. Granny diligently protects Wasabi. I've even seen her put her body between the other goats and Wasabi if they get too pushy. She's also whacked more than one goat who tried to push Wasabi around. As a result, Wasabi does not get picked on. We sure picked the right goat for Wasabi's buddy!
Thursday, December 28
I've noticed that Wasabi no longer puts her fourth leg down on the ground, not even to balance herself. It is starting to draw up/ contract. I'm also increasingly worried as she is clearly ADR (ain't doin' right) but I can't put my finger on what, exactly is making me nervous.
I decide to bring Wasabi back to the vets to see if Dr Eaton would be willing to splint her leg in an effort to try to straighten it out. She has a lot of scar tissue up in the elbow area and when she lays down while she is getting splinted, we discover two small pockets of infection. She goes home with a spiffy new splint.
Friday, December 29
I remove the cast from a whiny goat. All seems well, but she is such a drama queen that one can never tell when it really is serious or not. She recovers quickly with a suitable application of treats.
Saturday, December 30 -- Saturday, January 6, 2007
Oh, no! Her knee is terribly swollen. Ouch! Run to the vets to get some DMSO. Dr Clayton was kind enough to also send me home with the blue nitrile gloves-- they work much better at keeping the DMSO away from my skin than latex gloves. DMSO is easily absorbed through the skin. It works great as an anti-inflammatory and can also be used to "carry" drugs directly to the site of a soft tissue injury. The downside is that it IS very easily absorbed through your skin. Within seconds you will get a garlicky taste in your mouth that stays for days. I know the minute it hits Wasabi's system--she starts licking her lips and develops garlic breath. She's also getting Banamine for pain and carefully applied hot packs. I accidentally DMSO'd myself when I unthinkingly applied the hot pack after putting the DMSO on her knee. Of course, during the process of setting the hot pack on her, I touched the DMSO covered knee. Ick!
Over the next couple of days, Wasabi worries me sick. She won't lay down on her brisket and sleeps flat out on her side. Since she is unwilling to put pressure on her knee, she can't get up. I have to help her up for several days.
I finally figured out why I labeled her ADR prior to getting her splint. She is affectionally known as "mouth" or "foghorn" due to her clarion bellowing. Nubians are, by nature, a noisy breed of goat. Wasabi is noisy even for a nubian. For about a week, she has not been bellowing or demanding my attention. She is also losing weight, has a slight fever, and is generally "off". After carefully stealth-observing her I realize that her elbow really does seem to bother her. She isn't willing to eat hay when the other goats are there and carefully protects her elbow. When a goat comes near, she tends to draw herself into a C around the elbow. I fear that Dr Eaton will think I'm crazy or over protective, but I've learned to listen to my gut.
Okay, I'll admit that I am a smidge protective of Wasabi. She's such a ham and definitely has my number. I clean out the pockets of all of my barn jackets once a week. Non-farmers quickly learn to never investigate pockets of farmers--there are occasionally weird or even gross things in there. I discovered that every jacket had a few treats hidden in the pockets.
Sunday, January 7
Wasabi is feeling much better. The splinting did straighten her leg out a bit and it is resuming a more natural position. Of course, when she sees me watching her, the leg gets lifted at least six inches off the ground and she looks at me and starts licking her lips, trying to get a treat. She is also lying on her brisket again and I don't have to help her up.
For the past week, I've been giving her LA 200 shots every day. Elaina found the most luscious orchard grass/ alfalfa hay for her. In the evenings, the rest of the goats go into their stall and Wasabi has a private meal of grain and enticing hay in the aisle. I sit with her for about 30 minutes as she eats. It's good decompression for me after a day at the office. Granny supervises by rearing up and looking over the wall. When she thinks Wasabi has been in the aisle long enough, she calls to her. I've learned not to have Granny out because she likes to grab mouthfuls of hay and wander the length of the barn. I swear that she is teasing the other goats with the hay. She also leaves a trail of rather expensive hay...
Granny says: "oooh, that's gotta hurt!"
They moved just as I took the picture. This is Granny and Wasabi. Originally, Granny had her head resting on Wasabi's back and Wasabi had her head resting on Granny's back.
January 8 - 14, 2007
I start looking for a buck (male goat) for breeding the girls the following year. Since I really like spotted goats, I researched spotted bucks. They are not easy to find! The best ones are snapped up as two day old kids. I figure I better start putting feelers out as this is going to take a long time.
Then I discover Spots of Sandale Farm. None of the spotted buck kids were available, darn it!