Mr. Pungent

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I’m not very good with smells. I mean, I either like them, or I don’t. I usually don’t try and define them, catagorize them, or spend too much time thinking about them when I am not actually experiencing them. But fall seems to be the time of year when scents, both pleasant and awful, assult our olfactory senses more than any other time of the year.

One of the most pungent fall scents for me, that starts in August on this farm, is buck goat in rut. Rut is a hormal state male goats go into in the fall. Their neck swells, they begin to pee on their front legs, and their glands begin to secret an oily, smelly, “pefume” that they rub all over themselves and anything, including humans, in the vicinity. In late August, when the first hint of buck in rut is in the air, it immediately brings memories of fall leaves, cooler weather, fires, harvests, and holidays.

If you’ve never lived around goats, and buck goats in rut in particuar, you simply don’t understand the true definition of the word “pungent”. I have tried for 11 years now to think of something I could compare the smell of a rutty buck to, so people could understand without actually having to smell one for themselves. The word “pungent” is the best definition I can think of, and should be re-classified in the dictionary as “the smell of buck in rut”.

Buck in rut does not smell like something rotten. It does not smell like onions, or any type of musk perfume that I have ever smelled. It does not smell like over-aged wine, or a dead animal, but it will make your eyes water, your stomach turn, and your throat gag.

The putrid stench will get in your hands and clothes and any item that comes anywhere near a very affectionate buck goat in fall rut, and the oily, smelly mess will never wash out of any type of fibers, and will take days and perhaps weeks, to wash off of your skin.

I never really got the full affect of my own two bucks this year as they are pastured with the horses out in the fresh air where the smell is not so strong. Recently though I had the opportunity to help a friend who has a large buck inside a small stall in her barn. Whoa, lordy, I had forgotten what I was missing! That stomach-churning, putrid, pungent smell that only female goats will ever appreciate.

God works in mysterious ways and I’m sure dissertations have been conjured and perhaps even written on why domestic male goats have the need to exude the most olfactory-assaulting smell that has ever existed in the universe…and I’m talking purposeful smells here, not smells like rot or death that indicate something horrible that we need to get away from…but something willful, and apparently necessary, and even attractive to females of the right species.

…Food for thought.

ps. The buck goat in the picture is my old guy Atticus. He was always especially friendly during rut and would spend hours rubbing his smell all over my mares, who actually seemed to like him quite a bit. He has gone on to another farm now, but he’ll always be my favorite stinky boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pungent

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Cherry’s Valentine

I took this video this morning of our little Valentines Day present. Meet Miss Valentine. Her mamas name is Cherry Blossom, so we’ve dubbed her Cherry’s Valentine in honor of her pretty mama. Valentine has gotten her “sea legs” and is jumping and hopping around all over the place. Please excuse my poor video-making abilities. I’ve only done a few videos so far and haven’t really gotten the hang of my editor yet. Hence, it took me 6 tries to get something that wasn’t completely goofy looking. Hope you enjoy it.

On a Cold Winters Day

It’s a cold, cold morning here, and the weather kind of fits how I am feeling inside right now. My sweet Miley, our doe with Listeriosis, lost the battle yesterday and my heart is broken. Some people may never know how much an animals spirit can bond with their own. But I am not one of those people. Luckily, the losses around here are very infrequent and rare.

Night before last Miley kept me awake all night long. She just could not get comfortable and she was obviously miserable. I had hoped so much that the paralyzing effects of this insidious bacterium would resolve with treatment. But it only got worse. It was around midnight that I felt her not wanting to be here anymore. It was too much for her and I made the decision to call the vet early that morning. He was able to come yesterday and agreed with me that we had done all that was possible and she was ready to be free. And we let her leave this world as gently as possible.

I have spent the last two days crying. This is only the second doe I have ever lost in 10 years of raising goats. I might not have felt so bad if Miley was old, but she was only 8, and my favorite goat to milk, ever. She had a soft and quiet voice and absolutely never stood at the gate screaming like some of the other goats do. I still have Miley’s mother and daughter, and her two buck kids from this year. Everyone else in the herd so far remains perfectly healthy.

In consulting with my vet, we were trying to pinpoint possible places where she could have picked up enough of the bacteria to make her so ill. Listeria, as I have learned, is everywhere, even inside of an animals mouth, and in humans too. It is when they are allowed access, my vet feels, through a possible cut in the mouth, such as from a thorn or hay that is too course, that they get into the blood stream and then into the brain.

I am taking her for necropsy today, hoping to learn something that may help prevent this in the future.

On a brighter note, Cherry is expecting kids soon! She was due yesterday, but my girls usually go over a couple of days. She is huge though, so I am thinking there are possibly three in there. Thankfully, she was happily chewing cud this morning with no signs of kidding today, which means I can get necessary things done this morning without worrying about her kidding in the freezing weather, unassisted….If I am lucky, she will hold off until tomorrow so I can be here all day.

I am looking forward to the early spring as predicted by Punxsutawney Phil, Weather Prophet Extraordinary. I hope he wasn’t joking!

Goat Listeriosis. Day #4 Down.

Today marks the 4th day Miley has been been down with Listeriosis and unable to rise. I have been feeding her with a syringe, and offering her warm water at each feeding which she tries soooo hard to lap up. I can occasionally hear her swallow while she is lapping, but it’s slow going and exhausting for me to hold the water pan for her because I also have to prop her body up with my legs and pillows. Once propped up, feeding her with the syringe is a little easier because I can do it from the front of her and not have to hold her upright at the same time. I have not weighed her in a few years, but she is probably around 140 pounds. She’s a smaller Alpine, thankfully.

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This picture was taken this morning. The paralysis affects her mostly on her right side. (left side in the picture). Her ear droops on that side, as does her eye and she cannot chew food or swallow on that side. Her eye looks opaque because when she first went down in the straw, she went down on her paralyzed side with her head thrown back stiffly and she ground that poor eyeball into the straw with a lot of pressure. It actually looks a lot better today. I am treating it with penicillin and it doesn’t look like she damaged the eyeball itself. The swelling seems to be just in the covering of her eye, which has started to recede with treatment and getting it out of the straw and dirt.

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Here she is propped up a bit after a feeding. You can see her affected eye a little better in this picture. It’s winter here, and cold near the floor so I keep her covered to help reduce any stress she might have trying to stay warm. There is a woodstove in the room too, so it’s pretty warm higher up, just a little drafty down where she is.

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This is how i am trying to reduce pressure on her limbs. They are stiff and tend to stick out. I wish I could get her up and laying on her other side because there is a lot of pressure on that hind leg that is underneath her. She is on a mattress, which helps, but over the long term, I am not sure if that leg will suffer damage from being under constant pressure. I do turn her over now and then but it is very stressful to both of us as I have no help and she is so heavy, and I cannot leave her on the affected side because she twitches and breaths heavier than normal so I know she does not tolerate it well.

This afternoon, after I gave her coconut water with baby cereal and a bottle of high-protein boost, with 350 calories, plus water, after I got finished she acted like she wanted to eat my fingers. She seemed to have had enough of the syringing, so I went and got her a pan of chaffhay which is a very soft and moist alfalfa hay product. She went after it with GUSTO, and I was so amazed I took this video! I didn’t let her eat too much because I am not sure if she is swallowing it well or not. I will offer her more a little later and see how she does.

 

For this video Miley asked to wear my Rosary that a lady from church gave me years ago. I think she likes it and it looks great on her. I told her she could wear it anytime she wanted too.

I am expecting a shipment of Usnea this afternoon by fedex express. I read online where it helped another goat with Listeriosis, and am hoping it will help Miley. I have contacted a few people/herbalists about this herbal extract and how to use it, but have not heard back from anyone yet. If anyone out there knows the best way to use Usnea for this condition in a goat, please contact me or leave a comment, and I will get it on my phone.

 

Listeriosis In Our Goat Herd

As a keeper of a very healthy goat herd for the last nine years, I am always very happy and proud to say that I have only ever lost one adult goat in all these years, and never lost a kid, except for the one kid who was born dead (and had been dead approx. 2 weeks prior to kidding). The goats may be rather high maintenance, especially during kidding season, but as long as they are fed properly, and kept inside their pasture, they are very healthy and hardy animals. Except for the couple cases of milk-fever, and one case of mastitis several years ago, the girls here have been very healthy.

But this morning, as I am writing this, I am looking a dear friend and favorite goat and know that she may not make it through the day. Miley has come down with a severe case of Listeriosis and is not responding as hoped to antibiotics. She is on penicillin. The vet had me giving her 12 cc IM per day, but now we have went to 12 cc IM twice per day…which is a lot of meds for a goat. She got her first dose IV and immediately went down into convulsions and seizures. He explained that the reaction was a normal response to the carrier in the penicillin but that it was necessary to do an injection IV to get the antibiotic into the brain faster, to limit the damage to the brain.

I am writing this post this morning because I have found very little information on the internet about the best way to handle Listeriosis in goats. Maybe my story will help someone else. It is truly heartbreaking to watch Miley struggle. Euthanasia is an option that we may look at eventually, but has not been recommended. This disease, as I understand it, will not linger forever, but either run it’s course, or kill the host, and in either case, does not take too long. Recovery though, can take weeks or months and partial paralysis may linger forever. That is okay with us. Miley is a dear friend, and as long as she can eat and drink on her own, and enjoys life, she will have a place in our family.

Listeriosis can affect all warmblooded mammals, including humans, so we are taking precautions, and trying to pinpoint the source of the bacterium. We’ve not had any new feeds, but we have had a snowstorm, cold weather, and rain…the perfect breeding ground for this cold-loving critter. I believe it may have come from bits of feed in the corners of some feeders that got wet, then froze and then unfroze in the warmer weather, and was injested. Miley is the only goat in the herd that has been affected, possibly because she just kidded a couple weeks ago, so her immune system was a little compromised.

She is almost totally paralyzed on one side of her body and struggles often to get up but cannot. She cannot eat or drink but tries to drink warm electrolytes from a pan and chew cookies. She can still swallow so I am pushing her into an upright position and syringe feeding electrolytes, kefir whey, coconut milk, pureed bananas, and kombucha to try and keep her hydrated and keep up her strength as much as possible. Last night we moved her inside the house onto a mattress on the floor to make it a little easier for me to give her the constant care she needs. She is not pooping or peeing much at this point although we are putting puppy pads under her to catch anything so she doesn’t have to lie in it.

The prognosis the vet gave us is grim, but I plan to continue the feedings and care until she asks me to stop. She still greets me when she sees me, even though she cannot raise her head. I’ve asked for prayers, and am praying for her myself and we will just continue to wait and hope.

 

Baby Goats!

Is there anything more adorable than baby goats? This little girl’s name is Snowflake and she is the daughter of our Ciara and Elijah, both registered Alpine Dairy Goats. She is one of our keeper does and will be the fourth generation of this line. Her dam, grand-dam, and great, great, grand-dam all live here on the farm and are all currently in milk. All three of these girls can milk for several years without being re-bred. I don’t actually know how many years they can go but Mikey went 5 years (and was actually “dried” off twice when she had false pregnancies), and both Miley and Ciara went three years without being re-bred or kidding. All three girls finally started to dry off when they became heavy bred this year, but before that, I could not get them to dry up, so gave up. We’ve enjoyed a once-a-day milking schedule with them and plenty of year-round milk for soap making.