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    Goat Fail

    February 27, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    I collected links for the week, yes I did…but I don’t feel like posting them today. Maybe another time. Some of you may have noticed {via my Twitter feed} that our goat Abigail is no longer with us. Since a number of you have emailed me and wanted details on our progress in keeping goats, I suppose it is my duty to share with you the bad along with the good. I do so like to focus on the good around here on the blog, but the reality is that something Bad happened last week.

    First, though, I would like to publicly thank Kelly {and her husband} who faithfully answered my multiple emails while Abigail was in decline, and offered me countless words of advice and comfort along the way. Kelly has kept goats for years and has been kind enough to share her wisdom with me since I first pondered buying goats many months ago.


    Here’s the deal: I’m not going to tell you all of what happened because it was just awful and I’ve never really seen a creature suffer before, so I don’t really want to discuss the details.

    It all went like this: both Abigail and Charlotte acted funny over a week ago. I assumed they needed deworming. I have been reading through my goat care book, but frankly my reading has not been able to keep up with the real needs of the goats. I spent last week reading through the entire medical issues chapter. And I tried everything I could think of, as well as everything everyone else suggested, but at the end of the day, Charlotte got better, and Abigail got worse. And then she died.

    We were up with her from shortly after midnight Thursday night/Friday morning until about 3:15am, when she passed. I have read enough now that I am pretty sure she had goat polio, which is basically a metabolic problem causing a severe vitamin B1 deficiency.

    Of course, when you realize this after all the stores have closed up, there is nothing you can do but pray and watch your sweet doeling steadily decline.

    That, and debate your views on euthanasia.

    I have been assured by well-meaning friends that this does not make us failures as goat owners, but I must say I doubted myself in those first few hours after we lost her. It was the most awful night I’ve had in a long, long time.

    So animals get sick, and sometimes they start walking in circles because they get “one-sided,” and shortly after this, sometimes they die. I know this seems obvious {except the circling part}, but it really is something to consider when thinking about buying a pet of any kind. I can’t say that when we brought these two babies home it ever crossed my mind that we might lose one of them two months later.

    As I look out my window, I see poor Charlotte, missing Abigail.

    And I also see a greyish-white Pygmy Nigerian Dwarf cross wether. He’s crying because he and Charlotte do not yet like each other. He is overweight and looks somewhat like a wine barrel with legs…and a beard.

    Why in the world do I have this poor creature in my goat kennel? Because goats cannot live alone. They are herd creatures. And Charlotte has bawled mournfully during all daylight hours since Abigail left her. This still-nameless little fat goat is the Backup Guy. He’s the best friend she needs right now, whether she knows it or not.

    He’s also the only friend I could find for her currently available for sale.

    She’s pretty mad at me, but I don’t care. I just want the crying to Stop. Right. Now.

    Before my neighbors hate me.

    So that’s that.

    Abigail is gone. Nameless Short Fat Goat is here as a temporary replacement. And we’ll see what the future holds.  At this point, as there are no Kinder bucks in our area, and now that we need at least one new doe, making sure Charlotte has purebred offspring is likely the best idea. My cousin does cattle AI, and so we’ll probably be hiring him to fertilize Charlotte when the time comes. And then we’ll pray for doe babies. And then we’ll move on with the plan.

    Unless, of course, something else goes wrong.

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  • Reply Rahime February 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I thought I commented on here yesterday, but apparently I didn’t. How sad to hear about Abigail! I’m sorry for your loss. πŸ™ I think witnessing an animal suffering is one of the most difficult experiences (well, not as awful as seeing another person suffer, but we don’t really experience that too often, do we?).

    I hope the new guy fits in in time.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Wesley is fitting in in the sense that he *does* seem to provide comfort for Charlotte. When I took him out of the kennel yesterday to deworm him, she bawled for him, and wasn’t happy until he returned, so regardless of how she treats him when he’s in there, I guess she likes him well enough.

      In a lot of ways, this was worse for me than when Si was very sick, and I couldn’t put my finger on why until I realized it was because I was the one responsible. It wasn’t just the horror of watching the awful struggle, but the feeling that it was my job to make it go away. I could never be a doctor–I cannot imagine what these ICU doctors feel like, with horrible human cases on their hands everyday.

      No thank you!

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Thank you all for your sweet words! WOW what a nice crowd of ladies we have around here. πŸ™‚

    We are really doing okay; getting used to the new goat and all. One thing I learned is that though everyone handled the death fairly well, the 48-72 hours of serious nursing was quite stressful for our family. I mean, I am glad we did all we could so that we have no regrets, but she was so *dramatically* ill that it was shocking. I think that was really the kicker of this whole affair: the extreme suffering. It was so hard to witness.

  • Reply Rebekah February 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I am sorry for your loss. I do thank you for sharing your experiences with the goats though. A friend of mine just lost a newborn goat. I’ll link her post, perhaps it will give you some small comfort? Again, so sorry.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks for the link! I liked what she said about how the goat lived a good life while she lived. That was a good reminder.

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... February 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    πŸ™ What a bummer!! So sorry, Brandy!!!

  • Reply Meredith in Aus February 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Brandy. So sad :o(

    In HIm,


  • Reply sara February 28, 2012 at 5:30 am

    I’m so sorry, Brandy. I know how painful it is to watch an animal suffer and die. Please accept my deepest sympathies.

  • Reply Kansas Mom February 28, 2012 at 4:08 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about Abigail. I remember the first time we lost some chicks (which weren’t even a tiny bit like pets to us) and how devastating it was to think we had failed these little helpless creatures.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 28, 2012 at 3:55 am

    Jen, Thanks for the condolences. πŸ™ So far the two of them hate each other, but I think they will work out their issues quickly…at least I pray so.

    Sarah, I am so sorry about your twin kids! So sad! I agree that their crying is very disturbing. When we first met Charlotte and took her away from her mother, she cried for hours and it sounded just like a little child calling “Mama! Mama!” Some goats sound very human, I have learned.

    Kelly, I don’t know what the deal is with the comments. Blogger apparently changed some things today. I haven’t had time to check into it, but I hope to soon!

    By the way, the new goat got a name: Wesley. It went to vote and then Daddy broke the tie….

  • Reply Kelly February 28, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Your comment thing has changed and I can’t figure out how to subscribe.

  • Reply Kelly February 28, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I only wish we’d been able to figure out what was wrong with her! I’m glad you were able to find Charlotte a companion so quickly. Hope the children are doing well.

  • Reply Sarah February 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I’m so sorry, Brandy.

    We’ve kept goats for years, and we’ve lost a few. All of our friends who keep goats have lost at least one or two. Goats can go down so very quickly and without an autopsy, it’s sometimes difficult to know what the animal was up against.

    We lost a set of 6 week old twins this winter. They died literally hours after appearing healthy in every way. My husband had to do all kinds of internet research to figure out what happened.

    And it is *so* distressing watching them be sick and unable to help. For some reason their crying causes me discomfort just like a crying baby does.

    Hugs and a prayer for all of you,


  • Reply Jennifer February 28, 2012 at 12:20 am

    I’m so sorry, brandy! How heartwrenching. I hope you new goat is the perfect addition to the microhomestead.

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