Animal Update

Dagny: Resident Milk Monster

For me, raising animals is the most difficult thing we do.  That’s likely because it’s not my job to swing hammers at the house, or to bend over the soil sticking eight million tiny seeds into eight million tiny holes, but it’s still the hardest part for me.  We all do our fair share of reading, and my dad does more than his fair share of feeding and cleaning out stalls, but when something happens like a sick kid, I end up sitting in the grass giving milk and electrolytes through an eye-dropper.  The animals we have are amazing and sweet and cranky, all rolled in to one.  Even our straggling flock of chickens is loaded with birds that have unique personalities and habits.

The last two days have been difficult, as one of Pearl’s bucks has become very sick, very fast.  I was honestly surprised when he made it through last night, as his progression from sick to near dying over the course of the day yesterday was so fast.  He’s suffering from a nasty case of scours, and while as of now, we seem to have that under control, he still doesn’t have enough strength to hold his head up, let alone walk around on his own.  He’s receiving milk, water, and electrolytes via eye-dropper, a daily bath, and lots of time resting in the shade outside of the goat pen.  His brother doesn’t understand that he’s sick, so keeps trying to get him to play, and his mother can’t really do anything to help him at this point.

 I can see small improvements from yesterday and even this morning, but it’s still so hard to see such a sick baby.  The two bucks, Bogart and Spicoli, were born on April 20th, and are some of the most laid back animals I’ve ever met in my life.  Spicoli, the brother who is sick, is the youngest and has always been the quietest of the two.  Eating, but never fighting for a teat.  Playing, but never dominating the other kids.  He’s the most tolerant of being picked up and carried around, and was the candidate to become a whether companion to Burt, our head buck.

What’s hard for me to do in this case is to understand the lines… these are farm animals, and though very much cared for, they’re not pets.  I have a hard time deciding if this sick kiddo is getting enough care.  Could I do more?  As sick as he was last night, all I wanted was to bring him home, wrap him in towels and hold him until I knew he was going to make it through the night.  In reality though, I doubt that’s as much benefit to him as it is a comfort to me.  If I can sit there and watch him, then I feel like I have some element of control over his situation that I don’t really have.  It’s always better for him to be with his mom and his herd, especially because he doesn’t pose a threat to their well beings.

The only things I can do for him are the things we’ve been doing.  We can keep him clean, keep him hydrated and fed, keep him at the right temperature.  And we can wait.  Coming from a world where my job used to be working on computers and designing websites to a place where my job is to care for animals is a huge transition.  It’s infinitely more satisfying, and infinitely more difficult.

From left to right: Poppy, Spicoli, and Bogart


One response to this post.

  1. Caring for a sick animal can be heart breaking because you never know if you’ve done enough or done the right things. All you can do is try.

    Great blog, Courtney. I’ve put you on my reader and will keep up with your progress.

    Good luck with the kids. I am looking for goats right now myself.

    Although I talk about homesteading on my personal blog on occasion, just this week I started a new blog on simpler living. It’s called Back to Basics. It’ll be fully functioning next week–I hope. 🙂


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