Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

What a month. I was laid off from a job I've had for 17 years (and I'm actually pretty cool with it because it affords me some time for my family and hopefully a new start as a teacher - a longtime dream of mine). Chip caught a particularly nasty germ that had him down and out for a week, and he was kind enough to share with Momma! After I had my week with the crudd, poor Virginia came down with it as well. When a baby is sick, nobody around the house is happy or productive. Luckily Annalee and Chuck have both been able to avoid catching it.

The truly ugly thing that happened this month was our first goat with a broken leg. Of course, in typical fashion with the way things happen around our place, this was not just any old break. We were at the farm feeding in the dark (which happens far too often) and I noticed in the headlights that Kitty was obviously lame, but bouncing around behind the herd from bucket to bucket trying to grab some scraps. We don't feed much per goat, so they all scramble for what there is. Even when the forage is high quality, we still feed a little bit every day. On the few occasions when we've gotten the dreaded phone call saying, "are you the ones with the goats up off Beasley School? They're in my front yard" the fact that the goats all immediately recognize the feed bucket and come a-runnin' to it has been an absolute lifesaver. Most of them are not what we would call friendly, so it most helpful that they at least like that rattle in a bucket.

As we got closer, we could see that Kitty's hind leg was dangling grotesquely. It reminded me of that famous football player with the bad break from several years back. Unfortunately, the bone was through the skin and it was a right mess. We took the kids home and Chuck went back to the farm to catch her up. She has made her way to the top of the field and was in one of the sheds, and he had to chase her to catch her. Our normal vet saw her the following morning and the prognosis was grim. She said the break looked old, and she didn't have much hope it could heal. She said amputation would not be an option because three legged goats just didn't do well. If she had been acting like she was suffering, we would have put her down on the spot, but she was interested in eating and otherwise hanging out chewing her cud. We have to be practical, and we cannot afford to put more into her than the cost of a replacement doe, but we have a deep sense that this doe did not deserve what happened to her. She is a small, unassuming doe who really did not bother a soul. We used her to clear brush in a backyard in the West End neighborhood in Winston-Salem. She was a bit of an ambassador for goats in general and the Kiko breed in particular.

When we opened the dressing the next day, we found the end of the bone outside of the skin. Our normal vet does not allow outside goats on her property, so we found a large animal vet with facilities where they could get her up on a table and look at it, and do some x-rays. She found that there was missing bone, so there would be no way to pin it. She nipped the end of the bone, got it inside the skin, and stitched it up. Observing how Kitty tolerated all of this, and how she was still getting around on three legs and eating well, she commented, "this is an amazing animal." Now we just have to hope that the bone will knit and infection won't kill her. We change the dressing and resplint every few days, and she's been on antibiotic therapy, in temporary housing in a large dog crate. Only time will tell what the outcome will be. I doubt, if she lives, that she will be breedable, but we have already taken a goat to visit the children at my daughter's school during their study of domesticated animals, so if she makes it, she will have a niche she can fill.


  1. o noes! Sorry to hear about Kitty and your job. I came out to check out your place last year and I have been wanting to touch base again. We are building a farm near Madison off 311 and I am dying to buy goats but really think it would be prudent to wait until spring. I am going to email and see if there is a time we could meet up again. I have more questions!
    Good luck with Kitty!

  2. Just give us a holler. We'd love to have you drop by. We don't have all the answers but if we can help you avoid any of our mistakes, we will. Kitty's leg is unfotunately looking like it may not be able to be saved, so now we are just hoping we can save her.