Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life and Death on a Farm

They say a farm is a great place for kids to grow up.
I won't disagree, but it certainly isn't without its challenges.

Thursday night one of Isaiah's goats began kidding.
When Dennis checked on it, one baby's head was nearly out but the mama was having trouble pushing her the rest of the way.
With a little assistance from him pulling, the kid was born.

He hoped that that would be it, knowing that it was her first kidding and hoping it was a single birth; goats often have twins, even triplets.
It wasn't long until he could see she wasn't finished.

But baby goat #2 wasn't coming out; it was stuck.
Calves and goats typically present head and feet first (think SuperMan in a flying pose), but this baby was coming with one foot forward and one foot back.

Dennis called me to come down to see if I had any ideas; also, my hands are smaller than his and he thought maybe I could help her more than he could.
We tried EVERYTHING.  I mean EVERYTHING and that goat would NOT come.
Finally we called the vet; he tried all the tricks in his bag, too, to no avail.

I watched as she went into shock...we decided to get the baby out, knowing the mama would not live much longer.  We were pretty sure the kid was still viable at this point; I had felt puffs of air when I had my hand inside her trying to catch that other leg up and out and the vet said that it sucked on his finger when he was trying to get it out.

The vet sedated the doe, gave a local anesthetic where he would do the incision, and began the process of a c-section.  (I'm not sure if you'd still call it a c-section, since it's only intent was to get the baby out; there would be no chance for the doe.)
When he cut through the layers, her womb just sort of let go. He hardly had to cut, he said, it just gave way.  He pulled the kid out and then euthanized the doe.  The baby didn't make it, either.

I felt SO BAD for Isaiah, and Linnea, too, as she had shown this goat at the fair.  She was a well-tempered goat and, this may sound weird, but just seemed to trust us to help her.  She didn't fight us as we tried to help her.

Back to the firstborn baby...we brought her to the house (it was now 2:00 in the morning--who says I'm not a good farm wife???) and I fed it some milk replacer (animal baby formula) from a syringe.  I put it in an old laundry basket with some old towels and went to bed for awhile.  To my surprise, it was still alive later in the (early) morning when I woke up to feed it.

Throughout Friday, it perked up, drinking from the syringe.  Isaiah made a batch of colostrum for it (he's so SMART!!  I didn't even know you could do that, but he did!) and fed her through the day.  This baby cried and cried when she was alone and awake, and would stop crying if one of the children were near her.

This morning at about 5:00, I woke up to feed her and realized something was wrong.  I woke Isaiah up because he knows a lot more than I do about these things.  He said he thought she probably had pneumonia.  He gave her a shot of penicillin and we did our best throughout the day, but when Linnea went to feed it after supper, she came to tell me that it had died.

Of course no one likes to see an animal die.  To a certain extent, you know it's part of living on a farm but it doesn't make it "easy"--especially when it's one you've worked hard to save.

So, I'm sad for my boy...he's a farmer through and through and he loves his goats like many boys love their dogs.  They come running to him when he goes by their pen, he lovingly names them all, and buys them collars.

Life--and death--on a farm:  sometimes it's hard.


  1. O, Melissa. It sounds like something out of a book. What a wonderfully beautiful, and tragic experience for your family. (Can I use both those words? You just wrote it so well.)

    I'm so sorry for your son. I hope he takes it well. He sounds like he's got a good head on his shoulders.

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that Baby #1 also died. How sad. Isaiah is quite the guy (and you're quite the Momma).

  3. This was such a sad ending for that poor little kid. :(

  4. Oh, I'm so sorry, Melissa! What a hard day and a hard life-lesson for your son to go through! (((HUGS)))

  5. That is horribly sad! I can't imagine your poor kids and you...
    By the way, Happy Birthday to your sweet little girl!

  6. Thanks everyone for your concern. The kids handle it well, of which I am proud.
    In every area of life, we must keep on keeping on.


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