The Farm Expansion a/k/a Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

January 3, 2010 stephhwilliams 1 Comments

I grimaced when I first wrote the last word of the title to this post … read on, you’ll understand.  Warning: this post has pictures which may not be for the faint at heart; proceed at your own risk.

Within a week (or maybe 2, honestly, who can keep up?) of getting the chickens, we must have thought things were a little boring down on the farm. We took Boy Genius to the state fair for his birthday and by the end of that weekend (and the end of the fair) we were the proud owners (parents) of two Nigerian dwarf dairy goats. Since then, I’ve learned all sorts of fascinating tidbits, including how to milk and wean a goat, and how to care for one following multiple vicious dog attacks (by one of our own!), which … wait for it … involves purple-stained skin, and a hook and fishing line.

When we first got Milky and Prada, we didn’t have our “official” goat area so we put up two cattle panels in one corner of the fenced area around the pond, where Belle and Brix live, to make a square contained area for the goats.

(We quickly replaced the bright yellow rope that seemed to take lightyears to wrap and unwrap with bungee straps, but I don’t have a pic of that.)  Anyway, this square set-up seemed to work well for awhile.  The goats love to explore though, so we started letting them come out of the square and roam the yard around the pond.  We still have stakes and tie-downs for the dogs from before the fence was complete; so we’d just chain up the dogs for awhile and let the goats have free reign.

One Saturday afternoon, just as Wonder Boy went down for a nap and I was planning to take one myself, I heard Bryan start screaming “Noooooo.” I ran outside to find him cradling Prada and carrying her to the back porch.  After I got Milky safely stowed back in the square, I joined the tragedy on the porch.  Turned out that Belle had snapped her leash, I guess from pulling so hard, and chased down Prada, essentially body slamming her to the ground.

Once we checked her over, we determined that she had two small open wounds (from Belle’s teeth no doubt!) – one on her jaw line and one on her front shoulder.  We brought her into the garage and, after a trip to gather supplies, Bryan cleaned her wounds and doctored her up good.  He’d gone to the co-op and got some Blue Lotion, which is applied with a lid brush, sort of like the ones in Rubber Cement, but with what looked more like a cotton ball than a paint brush, and is really more of a purple than blue color, and stains your skin and clothing like nobody’s business.  All told, I think I lost three good shirts to that stuff and had purple fingers at work for days.

More than anything, Prada seemed in shock.  The wounds themselves, in hindsight now, weren’t all that bad, but as a first attack on our first baby goat, it was horrific.  And to see her seemingly so weak and dazed, it was pitiful.  The next day though, it appeared that she was getting back to normal, and I naively thought the worst was over.

The very next Saturday, while Bryan was at the hospital for a special work day, I spent the early morning outside with all the animals.  After cleaning out the chicken coop and letting them graze for awhile, I chained up the dogs and let Milky and Prada out of the square to explore.  This time, I stayed out there with them though, staying near to Belle and making her sit or lay the whole time.  After about 20 uneventful minutes, I put Milky and Prada back in the square and let the dogs free.  Feeling quite satisfied with myself and all that I’d accomplished bright and early on a Saturday morning (note: I am not a morning person), I came in the house and sat down on the couch to fold some laundry while the kids watched TV.  Wasn’t I being so productive?
Suddenly I heard screaming and screeching, but strangely no barking, and ran out to see Belle and Brix getting Prada through the cattle panel.  Apparently she got too close to the fence and Belle stuck her head through one of the holes and grabbed Prada’s back leg.  They were trying to pull her through the hole!
When I got to her, barefoot in the mud mind you, I thought she was dead for sure.  Her back right leg was torn and chewed from her knee joint all the way up to almost her bottom, and her shoulder wound was skinned and fresh, I think by being pulled through the fence hole.
I didn’t know what to do but hold pressure on everything and try to get Bryan home from work.  Meanwhile, The Girl was “starving to death,” Wonder Boy wanted to come out in the 50 degree weather in nothing but a diaper to “play with Prada,” and I didn’t want to know what Boy Genius was doing.  The “dustbowl fella” (i.e., Johnny, who lives down the street, the dirt and gravel way, at the 4-way stop and says the way people drive through there it’s like he lives in a dustbowl) happened to come by with his grandson, who is in Boy Genius’ class at school, and he helped me look Prada over while I tried to get a hold of Bryan.  Johnny raises oxen, so his presence and opinion that she wasn’t “done for” was reassuring to me.

Bryan came home as quickly as he could and then decided he needed to make another run for supplies; it seemed the blue-lotion-that’s-really-purple wasn’t going to be enough this time around.  We’re learning that having a de facto farm means becoming a de facto vet; I’ve lost count of the number of vets that say “we don’t see goats.”

With me holding Prada down, Bryan went to work shaving the area around her shoulder wound, cleaning it through and through and stiched her up, with a hook and fishing line (and days later when we were finally able to have her looked at by a vet, he complimented Bryan’s sewing job, go figure).  Her back leg was so torn up, though, we couldn’t figure out what was supposed to go where, whether anything needed to be cut off or pushed back in, or what part of remaining skin connected to any other part.  Ultimately, we just cleaned it as good as we could, put antiseptic on it and bandaged her up.

She hung out in the little teepee Bryan built for their shelter for most of the time over the next several days, coming out to get a little food and water here and there.  I kept worrying she’d just give up on us until the vet we saw told me that “goats are funny.” He said some goats will get a little sick and just give up, while others are fighters and “darn near impossible to do in.”
Over the following weeks, we could see improvement and healing happening.
Now, about 2 months after the second attack, the hair on her shoulder has grown back thick and full and she hops and jumps around like she’s never had a bum leg.  Yep, our Prada’s a fighter.

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