Monday, March 31, 2014


Sean here.

After running a farm for a couple years now, I've come to a few realizations.  Now, I realize that I'm still a "newbie" compared to many of our readers who have been farming for decades or all their lives. But even with the little time I HAVE spent caring for our various wards, certain instincts have started to emerge. While I don't have experience in being a father to a baby, I suspect it's a comparable experience. We currently have 14 goats of breeding age plus 5 kids, and I swear I know each of their voices by heart.  Not only can I tell who it is that is calling, I can usually tell what it is they want.  Whether it is a hungry goat, or an angry goat, or a pained goat, or just a lonely goat.  It's not a difference I can explain, but I suspect other farmers, parents, or anyone who has spent a great amount of time with another living being that they care for very much and who cannot communicate to them in words has felt.  When I got home from work on Friday, I was about to go pick up my wife when I heard something from the barn that got my attention immediately. It was a cry I'd only heard a couple times in the last few years. It was desperation and panic. Fear.

Haddie with Amos just minutes after kidding March 2014
I raced to the barn through the closest door available, which put me in the turkey stall looking into the doe stall over the half wall. Haddie, one of our new mothers this year, lay on her back in the stall with her legs up in the air and her neck craned back underneath her in an almost morbidly comic pose; as if someone had just pointed a finger pistol at her and yelled "BANG!" Because she only let out one cry while I was outside the barn, when I saw her laying there, my first thought was that what I heard was Haddie's last exhausted breath.

"Oh no! What could have happened? She was perfectly fine this morning." my mind churned as I ran around to the other door to enter the doe stall.

I knelt beside Haddie and ran my hands over her looking for injury, blood, anything to explain what went wrong. Feeling the life in her body under my hands almost had me in tears with relief. But, something happened, may still be happening. No time for relief yet! I carefully rolled her over to proper orientation. Haddie looked at me with bright, appreciative eyes and got up on her legs with some help.  She stumbled around the stall a bit and settled in the corner in a normal sitting pose.  After being seated for about two minutes, she got back up and walked around almost like normal.  I separated Haddie from the other does and examined her all over for injuries, but found none. I checked her eyelids and mucous membranes. These surprised me with being very pale, indicating anemia, usually due to a heavy worm-load.  We just wormed the herd earlier in the month and Haddie showed no signs of anemia then, so it was strange that her eyes should be so white now. I called Sonja to let her know what was happening. She suggested all the same things I had already done; check for signs of injury, check eyelids, look for possible causes of trauma in the stall. We decided to treat Haddie for worms again. It wouldn't hurt and was the most probably cause of the pale eyelids. I gave her a shot of Ivomec to treat for worms, and one of B12 to help boost her energy level. Her behavior had returned to nearly normal in the 15 minutes I was with her. I decided to offer some fresh water and grain. She shoved the other does out of the way with gusto and dashed for the grain bucket, tail wagging.

Sonja and Haddie hiking March 2013
"What on Earth happened?" Finding her in such a strange position puzzled me. My best guess was that Jane or one of the other does may have rammed her and knocked the wind out of her. She is the smallest of the does, so it would not be unheard of that the others were establishing their dominance. Or, perhaps she slipped off the wood stumps in the stall that the goats play upon? I cannot say for certainty. But, since I gave her what medicine I thought would be helpful and she was behaving normally and resting comfortably, I left to pick up Sonja, intent on grabbing some fresh spinach greens while I was out. (Spinach is a rich source of iron, which is useful to support anemic goats while they recover.)

We watched Haddie closely over the weekend. Haddie seems like she's doing well now, but we will keep treating her for worms and anemia for the next couple of weeks or until she gets some color back. We still have no idea what caused her to cry out so or to collapse, but in a way, it was a blessing. We check our goats regularly, but having just wormed the lot and without a history of paleness, warranting our keeping a closer eye on her than normal, Haddie might have indeed been in dire trouble before her next scheduled check up.

Trust your instincts, friends.


  1. Seany Sean your such a good Daddy, to goats and human folks alike. I am sure you have some gals around the house that would back me up with that. So glad she is O.K. and you trusted that farmer gut of yours!!

  2. I forgot to ask you guys yesterday when you were in the store how Haddie was, I am sorry that I forgot, please forgive me. So reading this post made me happy to hear all seems well when I so rudely forgot that things weren't well at all. Sean, so glad you had to go home to pick up a few things before picking Sonja up. That visit to the house may have proved to be the best laid plan.... :) Happy Day my friends

  3. I really enjoyed your blog, Sean. And you're right about a mother/father/caregiver being so attuned to his ward that he/she can discern between the different cries. I always knew if you or your brother was hungry, hurt. or angry. Good listening!