Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Losing My Fight

I hate to say this... I hate to be wearing my sappy little heart on my sleeve... but I'm very seriously considering ending the animal venture of our homestead. I just can't deal with death. I can't deal with the responsibility and guilt as I said goodbye to our FOURTH dead doeling. To have a 20% survival rate is miserable. Its cursed. And I just plain feel like I'm losing my will to fight against it.

Naturally speaking all these deaths have been "flukes"... flukes I could have prevented and thus that guilt weighs heavily on me. Sundae had a wound that got infected. I loved on her several times a week to try to tame her so we wouldn't have to tether her constantly. I never noticed the wound until it was really bad. If I had, I would have given her away to someone with a better fence. Cocoa and Carob were bit by a snake- yet if I had mowed inside their enclosure instead of letting the grass grow tall for them to eat it, a snake would not have found that area so desirable. Now Wednesday, the best doeling yet, dead. She had a great personality and a really good conformation. A few months ago I felt to use a different dewormer. Was it God??? I don't know, but I decided I would wait until I was out of the stuff I had. Then yesterday morning I felt I should go to the feed store and get something different first thing in the morning. I had an appointment in the afternoon so decided to wait. I didn't think a matter of hours would be life or death. And I still don't know if worms killed her. It was a shot in the dark. Her eyes showed she was anemic which happens when parasites are bad. But she got a weekly herbal dewormer. For whatever reason, this may not have been working on her. When I got home with different dewormer, I found her panting, feverish and grinding her teeth (meaning she was in pain). My neighbor was a God-send, not only taking care of all 3 kids, but brought over baby Motrin and some antibiotics to try to get her fever down. I sat there in the driveway keeping cool towels around her, holding her head and commanding her not to die. But around 7pm she gave up the fight as well. I had considered ending her life earlier as I hated to see her suffering, but I really just wanted to give the medicine a chance to work. I hate the ignorance I was under all weekend. I hate that I didn't find out any possible action until several days later. I never considered worms because she is regularly fed dewormer... and even still her poop looked normal, even on Sunday afternoon. But all the arguing with myself won't bring her back... I just need to decide if I'm going to keep going with this.

Looking at it in cold dollars and cents, we've invested a lot to have the back half of our property cleared and fenced. We know the unmatched value of raw goats milk, not to mention grass-fed meat. And frankly, goats are cheap. My mom was frantically encouraging us to take her to a vet. First of all, dog and cat vets don't much care for ruminants. Then a large animal vet comes to your house with a monstrous fee... and then the weekend emergency call would probably then at least double that fee... then the cost of the actual care. We can walk down the road and buy a new goat for $50. She was a tool, not a pet... just tell that to my heart as I can't stop crying for her. I laid awake for 3 hours last night thinking about her. This morning while looking out into the pasture over breakfast, I kept expecting to see her roaming around with the others. And the constant lurking thought- it's my fault that she's dead. Can I bear the guilt of another death without becoming so cold and calloused as to not care for them at all?

The other thought is that eventually I must graduate from the school of hard knocks. Eventually, I must know enough about goats to keep them not just alive, but thriving. Eventually I must know the real facts of our specific situation and not just trying to cram our goats into the mold of "Story's Guide to Goat Farming". Eventually this has got to get better.

In the meantime, I'm giving our three remaining goats a dose of the chemical dewormer. Good sheep will be coming up for sale all over when the fair is over. I have to make a decision. Keep up the fight or toss it all. It hurts a lot less when a watermelon rots on the vine.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I've never had goats, but we do have a milk cow, chickens, dogs, and cats. We live in C. Florida too, and we haven't fed any of our animals dewormers in years. Diatomateous Earth is the thing. We put it in their food and it gets rid of worms. Some feed stores carry it.