I'm going to tell a little story today. It's not a nice story. It's not a feel-good story. So if you want to skip this one you can. I nearly skipped it myself. I wrote this post a few days ago and couldn't bring myself to upload it. But I realized that you guys are tough, you can take it; and the reality is that farm life is almost always a mix of beauty and tragedy.
I broke the cardinal farm rule. I was away from home during kidding season. This mistake cost a life. I know it seems harsh but that is part of having a small farm. "If you have livestock, you also have deadstock," as my mentor always says to me.
I was out doing the day-to-day tasks that pile up and need doing. I got caught up talking because I didn't realize it would be the day my goat gave birth. Had I been more observant I would have guessed, but I wasn't. My husband and I didn't arrive home until after seven thirty in the evening. He went out to do the feeding while I caught up on some work that needed doing.
When he came back in he had a baby goat in his hands. She was limp, unmoving, silent. None of those things are good. He stood holding her while she blinked at me, her eyes rolling, a small pitiful sound escaped between her fuzzy little lips. I turned on the water in the kitchen sink. Warm; warmer than body temperature, but not too hot. I'd have measured the temperature, but in these instances there is no time for precision. Obviously we were at the point where seconds count.
I plunged her little body into the water and held her head above it. My husband and I took turns rubbing her limbs and body, keeping the water circulating around her. Warming the water every time it felt cool. The inside of her mouth was cold, not just cool. I've seen mild hypothermia before, but never anything this extreme.
Twenty minutes passed, since she was still alive I called my mentor. She talked me through the rest of what I needed to do. She's been saving baby goats for more than twenty years. We did what we could. Seconds mattered, and we were not there in those crucial seconds. We got her warmed up, and her heart rate up, but she didn't improve.
We got her dry and settled in wrapped up with some hot water bottles; again warm, but not too hot. She maintained her body heat, but gained no strength. I was rubbing her gums with colostrum from her mother, and molasses; hoping she would gain some strength. She did not improve.
After an exhaustive four hours she took her last breath. I cried and my dog whined. We both knew the sound, we've heard it before. I know in my heart I did everything I could for her except the most crucial thing: I was not there before it became an emergency.
Only after all of this did my husband lead me out to the farmyard to see what I didn't get the chance to see before. The twin who survived. She is warm, loud, healthy and lurching around on her little goat legs as I write this. Very few things are all bad, or all good either.
I have an ongoing interest in dystopian fiction, both reading and writing it. I’m a fan of simple living and draw inspiration for my writing from my love of old-fashioned skills and my small hobby farm.
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My first book is available on Amazon