Saturday, September 21, 2013

Those other sorts of weeks

I suspect when most folks think about farming they envision physical labor under a beautiful blue sky in a heavenly pastoral field. There's the freedom of working for yourself and the joy of not being tied to an electronic device. It's a peaceful image.

This is true of most weeks on the farm. I love it.

There are other weeks though, that are a bit more stressful. We just got through one of them.

Kaylee, our goat with the funny know her:

She's the timid one. A bit smaller than Saffron, but a tough little goat. About three weeks ago she started limping and falling over for no reason. We probed her legs and thought she had pulled a muscle, so we locked her up for a few days of rest.

(Try keeping a 5 month old goat restful. Just try it.)

After a few days she wasn't getting better. In fact, she was getting worse. So we called the vet. By the time he was able to come to check her out, Kaylee wasn't even able to stand on her own. I was terrified she'd get dehydrated and was out in the barn every 20 minutes propping her up near the water bucket. She remained perky, was eating and pooping well, but she continued to lose function in her front right leg.

Our vet suspected she had a weird, rare parasite or virus that ended up in her nervous system. He wasn't sure if we could help her, but we threw the goat medicine kitchen sink at her - two shots a day along with an oral dewormer for 5 days.

She started to improve every day, and keeps reaching new milestones (today she got both legs up on the second rung of the barn gate for the first time in weeks). She's been running and head butting and can keep up with everyone now, though I still worry about a relapse. It seems like she is going to be ok and we're impressed with her tenacity. I have now formed a rather strong attachment to her, but she's recovered enough to remember that she doesn't really like being hugged and keeps evading my embraces, which both delights and saddens me.

During Kaylee's downward phase, when I was going to check on her at regular intervals, one of our ewes died suddenly. I have read about sudden sheep death, but found it totally shocking nonetheless. On one trip to the barn Donna was totally fine, scampering about and vexing me by trying to escape from the pen to chomp on mulberry leaves. 45 minutes later, without any warning, she had died. We're not sure of the cause yet. We took her to the Purdue diagnostics lab and should be getting a report soon.

Donna was nearly 6 years old, which is middle aged for a sheep. She was the crazy-looking, loud-mouthed one. Even though we only had her for 4 months, we liked her and are glad we got to know her.

(Donna on the left. Her lamb Clara is in the foreground.)

So, it was one of those weeks. It's hard to face the realization that we don't control everything, but figuring out how to deal with these emotions and move forward is part of our learning process.

We're learning.


  1. Sorry to hear you've had so much stress going on! I remember these days growing up on my parents' farm. This is why I stick to chickens and my day job - I know I couldn't take on more animals at this point!

  2. Please let us know what happened if you learn more about Donna from the lab. SO sorry you had such a rough week of it!

  3. This is upsetting!! I'm sorry about the sheep it's never OK when a fluffy dies ever, though I'm glad to hear that Kaylee is making a recovery. Fun fact Anthonys Fiance's name is Kaylee so I sort of giggle when I read that. <3