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It's humbling to be a farmer. You do your best to care for your animals by providing food, shelter, care...and when you miss some sign that your animal isn't healthy (sometimes rather important!), you learn to be humble. You also learn from the mistake and experience.
Today I had the vet out. Having the vet out means that something is REALLY wrong, and that you need help. The other side is that their visit usually resolves the challenge at hand. In 10 years of tending goats, I've only had the vet out twice. I'm rather proud of that, yes. I do my best in caring for the animals under my barn roof!
Shamrock had a baby on Saturday. All signs said one was it. She tended her newborn, cleaned (got rid of the afterbirth), and seemed to be settling in. Two days ago I noted she was slower, and yesterday she was off feed. I offered her molasses and treats to keep her eating. Today she was laying by herself...pushing like another baby was on the way. My heart sunk!
I washed up, brought my bucket of soapy water down to the barn, and bravely took a first hand feel at what was going on. It was another baby. Dead. It was presented breech, with it's rear end plugging the canal out. I worked to flip it, grab some front feet, move it. She was crying, and so was I. I felt like I failed her...how did I miss this obvious thing? The baby was in there for three days, swelling, decomposing; it was impossible for me to get out.
I called the vet.
He worked with her for close to half an hour. His smiles, chatting, and light attitude helped my self-loathing. "Even well seasoned farmers can't tell sometimes," were his words, a balm to my soul. "You never know what could happen."
It was all set right with his help. The dead baby goat was pulled out, and antibiotics were prescribed for Shamrock. She was shaky but turned loose with the other girls. I was grateful. He didn't belittle or condone me, he didn't complain about the job at hand--smelly, unpleasant, cold, sad. He just worked with what he had, and his skill and knowledge was enough to ease the goat and my distress.
Thank you, Doc. You saved my goat from a potentially life threatening problem, and you made this farmer's heartache a little less raw.
My heartfelt prayer after the visit: Let me learn from this, and let me be a better goat farmer to tend to my future herd.