Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tradgedy and joy...

Last week Celeste acted a little "off" when I milked her Friday morning. I noticed she was not out grazing with the other goats much during the day, either. When I got her on the milk stand Friday night I realized something was very wrong. She had mastitis, an infection in her udder. In many cases this is a fairly simple thing. A little massage, some warm compresses and maybe a bit of special antibiotics infused up into the udder and all is well. In other cases the infection becomes systemic, causing the goat to become very ill. It can even prove fatal.

Sadly, the infection spread from Celeste's udder to affect her entire body. By the next morning she didn't want to stand, or eat, or drink. The veterinarian came out and left me with a lot of medications and a pile of needles and syringes. I've been giving the poor goat 5 different injections every day. I am not a big fan of needles, but have learned to give both sub-cutaneous and intramuscular injections. I've been working on getting the infected liquid out of her udder many times a day, massaging firmly with oil infused with peppermint, and putting hot compresses on her hard, sore udder. She doesn't like any of it, but has been incredibly cooperative.

All of this has caused me great worry. After several days of having one or two hooves in the grave, Celeste seems to be on the mend,though her udder is still hot, hard and very sore. She may be useless for milking in the future, and that makes me sad. At one point I was in such despair I decided that all the animals had to go. They simply bring too much sorrow and heartache. But a cooler head prevailed, and I was able to remember how much happiness the critters bring me every single day.

Here is an example. One of the Silkie hens went broody a few weeks ago. This means she was feeling in a family way, and planted herself firmly on a soft nest, with a pile of eggs beneath her. I've had hens go broody before, but none that were as faithful as this little bit of white fluff. She was on the nest 24/7, only dashing off her eggs once or twice a day for a brief moment to get a drink, fill up on a little food and relieve herself of waste. Her dedication was impressive. There is no guarantee, when a hen goes broody, that the eggs will hatch. Sometimes the entire event is exercise in futility.

Today was the little hens 23rd day brooding. When I went out mid-day to treat Celeste, I gently lifted the little hen to see if, per chance, there was any sign of hatching eggs.

To my delight, a wee small chick, already fluffy and dry, peered up at me with bright eyes. Another chick was struggling to get out of it's egg. I gently placed the mama hen back on her nest and did a little happy dance.

By tonight there were three little fluffy babies snuggled up cozy and warm under their dedicated mom. I don't know if more will hatch in the night...
but there may be more joy tomorrow!

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