The worst $30 I ever spent

Did I tell you that we killed a goat?

RIP tiny unnamed goat from, like, a day or so ago.

We have a record of 1-1 when it comes to keeping goats alive on the Teter Homestead. (The other, more alive goat is the one with her head in the feed bag. Yikes! Dangerous! But she’s preggo. And STARVING.)

We’re hoping to improve  our average here directly.

Despite the advice of people who own goats, and just about every manual or website published on God’s green earth that devotes so much as a chapter to goat-rearin’, we bought a goat from the livestock auction. This is a big no-no. That’s because shady sellers sometimes dump their sick animals at the sale barn. To sell to suckers. We knew it was a risk, but we figured that sure, there would be bad eggs, but at least a few of the animals sold had to be healthy, right? Maybe we’d get lucky. On the cheap!

We did not get lucky.

Looking back, I should’ve known something was about to go terribly wrong. After we successfully bid on the goat,  we assumed — wrongly — that we’d be able to find out who the seller was, contact him or her and find out how old the goat was, whether it has been weaned, wormed, vaccinated — you know. etc. etc. I mean, it was a live animal. It needed a few instructions.

Turns out I would know more about my produce auction tomatoes than I ever did about that goat. :(

I spoke with the owner of the auction, but when I gave him our goat’s lot number, he who told me, “I can run down to the barn and check the records, but you’ll probably never know anything about a deal like that.”

He told me to “take good care of the goat and you’ll have a good goat.”

Easy enough.

Almost immediately upon arriving home, the goat kid started acting lethargic. However, at the time, we didn’t really know what “lethargic goat kid” looked like because it was our first baby goat. We thought it didn’t have much spunk and that it must be depressed because it likely had a couple stressful days, so we gave it our best alfalfa hay and some grain to nibble on … and eventually after some googling we determined by its weight, etc, that it was probably – maybe? — big enough to be totally weaned.  But when it didn’t eat and started sucking on our fingers like a madman, we decided we should try to give it a bottle. (Whole Cow’s milk + corn syrup, fyi)

It perked up for a minute. But eventually it started walking into things.

We joked about how we probably bought a blind goat and wouldn’t that be our luck.

Hours later, she started acting drunk, stumbling around and just looking … gawd awful. She just stood there with her head down when she wasn’t staggering around. Meanwhile, the goat kids on YouTube were running around, karate-kicking the straw and doing backflips off the barn walls. You didn’t have to be a real farmer to realize this goat had issues.

We got worried and moved the goat into the dog crate and into the back room for the night. She started bleating like she was in a great deal of pain. It was awful.

Massive amounts of Googling, one trip to TSC and a lot of guessing and Goat 911 later, despite our best efforts to be after-hours goat medics (we drenched, we baking soda’d, we electrolyted) (and I should say that these are all things you do for sick goats) we had  what they call a “flat” goat on our hands. She would not get up or move. She was breathing with what can only be described only as a death rattle. That lasted for a lot of hours. All night long, basically. We tried repeatedly to prop her up and get her some nutrients. To rub her belly, which started to bloat. We tried everything but Penicillin shots, which we planned to buy at the farm store when it opened at 8 a.m. She wouldn’t make it that long. She died in the early morning hours.

It was awful. I cried.

I mean, I was up feeding Miss Eleanor anyway, but. It was awful. That poor goat. Seth buried its little body back behind the barn. So sad.

It’s impossible to know exactly what killed her, but we have it narrowed down to about 37 different diseases. It’s impossible to know whether we could have done something to save her, (Goat 911, God Bless Them,  said we likely couldn’t have, and that the goat had goat polio and would have always been “a little off,” a.k.a. “permanently brain damaged” if she had survived — awesome.) but I don’t think the goat seller set us up for success.

Maybe they didn’t know that they were selling a sick goat. Maybe the goat got exposed to some awful, other sick goat in the barn. Maybe the seller did know and just wanted some money from a sucker to ease the financial loss of a sick kid. Oh well. I was looking for a sale barn to pawn the poor critter off on around 4 or 5 a.m.

The bad news is that the goat most likely would’ve died wherever it stayed on Sunday night. The good news is that it landed at my house, and now I know so much about goat diseases that I could probably, maybe, possibly recognize when something doesn’t look right because of a massive late-night goat disease cram session.

I also learned the lesson as memorialized on Facebook, which it this:

A word of wisdom for would-be homesteaders: Put down the book of goat’s milk recipes and please memorize the book of diseases and stock your goat medicine cabinet. #farmerFAIL

You need to be prepared because when you care for animals, they are relying on you to, well, prevent them from dying. At least until slaughter time. Shit!

When you think of hardy animals, I assumed that goats would top the list. But this whole rumen thing — wow.

Having four stomachs is just as complicated as it sounds. Worms and parasites get in the stomachs and just go berserk. They turn the goat’s inner eye white! With this rumen, there has to be a perfect ratio of grass to grain to browse, or else the whole thing will go to hell. It’ll sort of blow up inside the goat!

And here I though they ate boots and tin cans and everything was fine by them.

With chickens you just sort of buy them, feed them grain and let them get eaten by predators. With pigs, well, nothing ever went wrong with our pig. Goats require much more tinkering. And baking soda. One of the suggested treatments for a surprising number of goat ailments is baking soda. It’s like that mysterious green pill they gave you at Hudson Student Health Center. A cure-all, remember?

The demise also prompted Facebook friend and Patron Goat Saint Tracy Foy to send me a package of goat medical supplies. A Goat Starter Kit, if you will, along with a spreadsheet of dosages and instructions on how to properly store the medicines, etc. I am studying to give my first goat vaccination. Like, with a needle.

I am going to inject something with medication.

Did you know that certain parts of the country are deficient in selenium – a mineral goats need to thrive? And that you have to inject it into them?

I’m a real farmer now, bi-yatch.

Or, you know, I will be. After the stabby-stabby.

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