Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tears are part of farming. At least this day

Warning: some graphic content ahead. 

Not all is roses in farming.  Today was another example of this.  We returned from a trip to town collecting leaves to find a very sad sight.  Driving back down the driveway around noon,  we see a goat sitting by herself in the pasture.  Just sitting.  I hinged,  as I normally do just to check that they are ok,  and she didn't flinch a muscle.  Not good.

Stopping to investigate,  it got worse.  The poor little goat was shaking,  too weak to stand.  Her face was bloody.   Her face was torn open,  her side had a gash about a foot long all the way through to the muscle,  and her tail was torn off and hanging on by a thin patch of skin.  She was obviously in shock and in real danger.

No signs of attack around here,  no explanation for the severity of her injuries.  We made a quick survey for safety around the pasture and found nothing. 

First things first,  we carefully placed her into a half dog house lined with clean towels and carried her out for the pasture.  Hunter and I placed the dog house onto the back of the Rtv and Kaelyn drove slowly to the house as Hunter and I walked behind to keep her calm and still.  Then a transfer inside to the warm house.

Some iodine water spray to help clean and sterilize the wounds.  It was bad.  Very bad.  At the right angle I could swear that I could see her lungs moving  looking through the hole in her side.  She rested in the box,  with one an occasional call and shifting.

We considered running her in for stitches,  but honestly the stress of moving her would probably be too much.  So we decided to let her rest for the night,  occasional iodine sprays,  and see how she was in the morning.

Back out in the pasture,  we searched for an explanation.  And finally I think we found it.  A cougar attack.  We found a spot on the far side fence with fresh blood.  From the scene it appears there was quite a struggle.  Apparently the poor goat was pinned between a tree,  the fence,  and a tpost.  

We also found a freshly dead hen about 50 yards away.   But the hen was not eaten,  only killed.

From the tracks,  the injuries,  and the site surveys we concluded that most likely this was a smaller cougar or bobcat attack,  but was foiled by momma llama.  Both attacks were incomplete.  The chicken was not eaten at all and the goat escaped an impossible situation.  The only reason for these would be interruption,  and the only one in the pasture that would dare to stand up to a cougar is the llama.

While we don't know yet if the goat will make it through the night,  it is comforting to know that the llama successfully stopped an attack in progress.  Without her,  we could have lost many goats.  She earned her keep today!

But,  alas.  Sadness.  The goat looks bad.  She is suffering from the cruelty of nature.  This is the side of nature that many like to ignore.  It is cruel.  Farm animals have a much safer more relaxed life than anything living in the wild constantly prey for larger animals.

  Nature.  Beautiful but cruel.

Farming...  Deeply satisfying but often sad.


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  1. Update! As of 5am she is doing better! She woke me up with a more normal goat call. Upon checking I find her sitting out of the the box. Her posture is much improved. She is strong enough to walk a bit and sit while yesterday she could only lay with her head against the side. Looks like a vet visit is in her future! Looks like she might have a future!

  2. If you are interested in seeing the pictures of a big cat attack on a goat, email me. They are a bit too graphic to post here, but I do have pictures.

  3. UPDATE: unfortunately, things didnt work out well. At the vet hospital, we determined that there was just too much damage from the attack. She was blind in both eyes, mostly loss the use of one front leg due to nerve damage, and was likely too weak to make it through the extensive reconstructive surgery that would have been required. Even with heroic efforts, the prognosis was not good. The decision was made to let her go.

    It was a hard decision to make. Dairy goats are like pets, part of the family. The children were in tears as we discussed the options. But they understand. IT was for the best. It was sad. It is still sad.

    Mable (the goat's name) was the first of the third generation from our original goat, Natalie. She was special in a number of ways. And she was pregnant.

    Nevertheless, we are not God. We do the best we can, but we cant do everything. Sometimes, life is hard. In farming, you see both, the good and the bad, the births and the deaths, its a part of the big picture.

    So we said goodby to Mable.