Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Four Children, Two Goats and a Minivan

How naive was I to think that moving to the woods to raise a few animals and vegetables would be a calm, quiet, and peaceful life? It seems to be anything but. It is filled with busyness leaving hardly any time to just be. It is a different sort of hectic from life in the city, but hectic it is none the less.

Last weekend we made a trip to the town we grew up in to celebrate Tim's and his brother's birthday. Here are some pictures.

Then we made a quick trip to Aunt Hazel's and Terry's to pick up the new tool they purchased for the property. I think Terry was tired of dragging deer up the hollows.

We got home Sunday just in time to feed the animals. That is when we noticed that one goat was missing. Desert was in the far corner of the pasture with her new kid, another boy. We've moved them in the shed, and there they will stay for awhile. Donkeys or not I'm not taking any chances.

So what does all this have to do with the title of this post? Well, seems nothing goes simply by the book here. By Monday morning Desert still had not passed all the afterbirth. Awhile on the internet showed she need medicine only the vet could get. Awhile on the phone to find there are no vets close that see goats. A little longer on the phone to find we would have to bring the goat to the vet, or pay a huge amount to have a vet come here, because the vet who sees goats does not know us. (Note to those thinking of getting animals: establish a relationship with a vet before you need their help.) An hour later we are headed down the road in our old minivan; two goats in the back and four children in the front.

Parked in the Wayne Wal-Mart shopping plaza, where the vet is located, the vet and his assistants examine the goat, in the back of my minivan with my four children peering over the back seat watching the show. A little cleaning, two shots, fifteen minutes and seventy-five dollars later we are back on the road. Mama and baby seemed to be doing fine, and she seems to be passing the stuff that needs to go.

So calm, peaceful, quiet? Um. . . not in these woods, but I'd never trade this hectic country life for our former city life. It may not be exactly as I envisioned, but it is good.


  1. Congrats on the baby(goat that is)!
    Sorry we didn't get to see all of you. Maybe next time!

  2. That baby goat is a sweetie! Glad it turned out well. We had to take the cat to the vet - one of his canine teeth was about to fall out. They pulled 4 teeth total. It was $165, and I was amazed it wasn't more. Our vet has gone up drastically in the last few years. But he will come out to the car if necessary.

  3. A more fulfilling kind of hetic isn't it? Love the goats.

  4. Thanks for posting the pics. Hope the family can all be together soon! Life's awfully short, ya know.

  5. I got the following from here http://www.goatwisdom.com/freshened_doe.html

    Retained Afterbirth


    Your darling Suzie Q has delivered nice healthy babies. You are real proud of yourself because you followed the instructions here at goatwisdom and reached in there and pulled one of them out. And then you sit with her waiting for something to happen to this big ugly purplish thing that is hanging out of her rear end. Every time she turns around she swats one of the babies in the head with it. And you wait. And you wait. You heard somewhere that you're not supposed to grab it and pull it out. You go in and have dinner and when you come out, it's still hanging there.

    You start getting tired and finally go to bed for a short nervous night's sleep. You go back out the next morning and, oh my gosh, it's still there. But now it has begun to stink. Oh, now what? You start calling vets asking what to do. They all tell you to leave it alone. And now poor Suzie Q is a stinking, disgusting mess. "This just can't go on like this," you say.

    Some preliminary comments:

    There is no one definite cause for a "retained" afterbirth. It commonly follows a premature delivery, a long labor or difficult birth, certain nutritional deficiencies or a uterine infection. But it also happens totally unexpectedly. Sometimes you will think that the doe has eaten it (a separate subject), only to find later that she has not passed it. Usually, if there is a retained afterbirth it is partially inside and partially outside, with the outside part about even with the ground.

    The established protocol

    You probably have a vision of the trusty old vet with his arm in a big old cow spending several hours releasing a retained afterbirth. Almost all textbooks now recommend that you should leave it alone and treat it with systemic antibiotics (tetracyclines such as LA200®). Traditional manual removal is no longer popular. Therefore, we will say that manual removal is NOT recommended.

    You didn't hear it here...

    If 12 hours have passed, then you can probably assume that she will not pass it on her own. If you decide that you are going to remove it, NOW is this time to get on with it. After this, it is very difficult to get your hand through the constricted cervix to do any work. To me, it just makes no sense to allow her to drag this thing around with her for several days.

    There are two kinds of problems to deal with. One is failure to release the cotyledon (buttons) from the uterine wall. The other is blood vessels and membranes that fail to break loose. (None of this description will be technically accurate!)

    If the cotyledons are still attached the afterbirth will not be just floating loose in the uterus. They must be "unbuttoned" one by one. This is done in much the same manner as you button a jacket, except that it is done with only one hand, in a place that you cannot see and with an animal abjecting in various ways. Utmost gentleness is required. The longer it has been since the completion of delivery the harder it will be to get you hand inside. Do it very slowly and with lots of lubricant. She will object strenuously and push against you all the way. Once you have all the buttons released you should be able to gently ease the placenta out through the cervix. If you feel any resistance, stop right away and re-evaluate the situation. NEVER pull on the afterbirth. As it comes out, gravity should be enough force to do the work. Always do this with the doe standing so that you can feel the pull of gravity.

    The second problem is one that I have only experienced in goats and I do not know the technical terminology for the details. In this situation, the major part of the afterbirth will be dragging around behind with a taught string-like thing being the only thing attaching it all to the doe. By reaching FAR forward on the lower part of the uterus you will find a point of attachment to the uterine wall. If the cervix is still well dilated and if the vessel is about the size of your little finger, leave her alone for 4 - 6 more hours. Then, if it hasn't broken free, reach to the forward point of attachment, come back toward you a couple of inches, place the cord between your thumb nail and middle finger. By sliding the thumb nail back and forth you will be sawing through the cord. When completed, the afterbirth will be free and can easily be removed the rest of the way.

    After either or both of the above, immediately use a pipette to insert a half tube of Nolvasan® or similar product and give pen G or LA200® for 4 - 5 days. You will want to give the doe lots of "TLC" and it would be good to take her temperature daily.

    "Plan B"...

    The following suggestion was sent to me by a reader who got the tip from her vet. I have not tried it, but it is supposedly an old farmer's trick that I was unaware of. He recommended that you tie a five pound weight to the hanging afterbirth and let the doe drag it around behind her. This may eventually help things along.

    Please remember that the above procedures are not a substitute for consultation by a licensed veterinarian.