Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Salome March 17, 2013- Dec. 31, 2016

Salome 2015 with Sean
I am having a rough time right now. I waited a few days debating on whether to write or not, but eventually I decided to do it- if only to get it out for myself (whether or not I decide to push the "publish" button that allows you all into our world remains to be seen.)

Friday night, Sean excitedly pronounced that Abby, Rachel, Keziah and Lily were all bagged up (Their udders were full of milk.) and Abby had some mucus show. I changed into barn clothes, grabbed the kidding kit and headed to meet him in the barn. I anticipated our first round of kidding to happen around the first of the year. This was slightly earlier than what I had thought, but since we had no solid breed date for them, it was certainly possible. In the kidding stall, Abby was showing a tinge of mucus, pawing the ground, and pressing her head against the wall off and on. She laid down only to immediately get up again. Looked like labor signs to me.

In the opening and closing of stall doors, Salome, Ruth, and Sarah all escaped the barn. There was nowhere for them to go, so we allowed them to wander around the front yard, picking at the twigs in my herb garden and sniffing about the wood pile. They finally settled for grabbing a mouthful of cracked corn from the dregs in the chicken feeder in the coop's yard. In one of his trips back to Abby's stall, he took a minute to recapture them and ushered them back into the main stall. (This may seem random, but it is foreshadowing.)

Abby kids like a dream every time. We had very little concern that anything would be amiss. With that in mind, Sean "went live" on Facebook, hoping to bring you all into our barn with us, to watch a live kidding- our first attempt at that sort of thing. Phone signal in the country is not great and the video skipped several times before blinking out completely. I was a little disappointed, but ultimately our focus is on the animals here, capturing video live or otherwise is fairly low on the list. We posted that once labor began in earnest, we would try it out again. We waited. Abby laid down and took a nap. We looked everyone else over and discussed the need to save some colostrum for Lily, since she was clearly pregnant and is unable to be milked. (Why? Read about that here.) We waited another hour before deciding that we should grab dinner while we could. The rest of the night, Sean set his alarm and checked Abby every hour. All. Night. Long. By morning, the mucus show was gone and Abby acted completely normally. Sean checked her ligaments. He thought they were soft, but he was checking too far down the tail. They were still there. We had more time than we originally thought. (I hadn't checked ligaments Friday night. That would have saved a lot of effort checking on her through the night!) Without the worry of imminent kidding, we asked our daughters to check on the goats through the day. We asked our neighbor, Shea, from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm if she was available as back up, just in case. With all our ducks in rows, we went to sell our wares at the Farmer's Market.

When we returned from market, Sean checked the goats and found Salome laying down, straining. She had no udder formed, but there was a distinct little nose peeking out from her back end. He checked Salome. She was weak and barely responsive. He checked the kid. It was clearly dead already. He quickly moved Salome into a private stall and ran inside to wash his hands. He called to me, "Salome is kidding... The kid is dead... She isn't okay... Call Abby!" I grabbed my boots, coat and phone and ran for the barn after him. Well lubricated, Sean attempted to push the kids nose back in a little so he could maneuver his hand inside, grab a hoof and shift things into the proper position. I phoned Dr. Abby Arena and left a message. I texted Shea for back up. She grabbed her kit and rushed to help. Sean's hands were too large to fit past the nose no matter where he tried. My hands are smaller, but with Shea only minutes away, we decided to wait for her more experienced ones, rather than to add to Salome's distress; with the kid already dead, Salome was our only focus. Instead, I pulled the penicillin to warm and drew Vitamin B and Banamine. We dosed Salome with a shot of Banamine to help with the pain and the Vitamin B for a boost in energy. Shea arrived and immediately tried to pull the kid. It's head was turned completely upside down. There was nowhere to grasp other than the lower jaw. The nose, eyes and mouth were all past the pelvis, but the rest of the head was stuck, leaving no place to maneuver. We needed a veterinarian.

Shea's vet, Dr. Tanja Ebel from Apple Creek Equine Medicine was off that day, but made a farm call anyway. Seriously. In answer to the throes of awful happening, she stopped what she was doing and came to help us. She advised us to try dexamethasone and gave us the proper dosage. It wouldn't work immediately, but would help to soften the cervix to allow us to try to pull the kid. We did not have a lot of hope for Salome at this point. But, we couldn't let her suffer. So many thoughts! "If Salome was going to die, we had to ease her passing as much as we could. At what point should we be prepared to make that decision? Wait until Tanja comes. One kid is clearly dead. Does she have another viable kid inside? Would a C-section help? Salome's previous kidding 2 years ago had to be veterinarian assisted. (Story here.) She should never be bred again should she live. Once is a fluke, twice is a pattern. I hope she will live! What she lacked in intelligence, she made up for in sweetness. Her sister is always into mischief; Salome is usually standing quietly somewhere, often with her head in a fence. She never did figure that out. But, sweet! She is the friendliest girl, great Mother. I hope she lives."

Dr. Tanja arrived and her exam brought grim news. The kid was dead. Probably had been for days. Salome's stomach was sloshing, full of fluid- no other kid felt. Her eyelids deadly white. Internal temperature cold. She never bagged up, never showed any signs of labor. She was in shock. Without a necropsy, there is no way to say for sure, but based on her history (read here) and her current state, it looked like Salome probably had some kind of malformation that made kidding more dangerous than normal.

"If she survives somehow, you are looking at months of continuous care and she might never return to normal." Dr. Tanja advised.

I am a numbers-thinker. "What do you think? 20%-25% chance she could make it?" I asked.

"Not even. I would say, maybe 10% and it would be a long, hard road for that." was her kindly spoken reply.

Sean and I looked at each other. "Ok. Let's end it."

Dr. Tanja took some time to look over the rest of our herd afterwards. She agreed to be our back-up veterinary. We talked about our anticipated challenges with Lily kidding and the possibility of using copper bolus to assist with parasite management. I like her. I like her manner, her ease and her candor. I appreciate her dedication. Anyone who would come out on an emergency call on New Year's Eve to a farm she had never visited is the kind of veterinary I want to work with. Clearly, she loves animals as much as I do.

I have played the blame game for several days. Whenever we lose an animal, it happens. True or not, I feel inadequate; like a bad animal keeper. The facts in this case are these:

Salome with Ruth 2015
(1) Salome showed no signs of trouble until it was too late and she was in shock. We did everything we could to help her. Had Salome shown ANY signs of being in labor, we would have watched her closely and called our veterinary immediately. She didn't. We were in the barn hourly all the previous night. She had been walking around outside with her daughter, perfectly normally, the night before. When we checked over all the goats, she gave no sign AT ALL that she was in distress of any kind.

(2) She chose to breed with Asher without our consent. We do our VERY BEST to control breeding, but goats in season will go through walls, 2x6 boards and anything else in their way to get what they want. We are hopeful our recent move of the big bucks to the back yard will help, but who knows. Nothing is 100% perfect. We do the best we can and make changes when needed. We had not planned to breed Salome for several reasons. (a) Oberhausli is not the goat breed we've chosen to focus on. We try not to breed the ones who live here. (b) She did not have a good supply of milk with her last kidding. (c) Her only previous kidding needed a veterinarian's assistance. Though that kidding ended well with a living kid and healthy momma, it was severe enough that we would have called in a Veterinarian as soon as she showed signs of kidding- as we did in this case. (d) And, as sweet and lovely as she was, she was not all there in the head. We loved her, but we did not want to pass on those genes.

Nut looks like she will pull through.
(3) The more animals you care for, the greater the chance of seeing something out of the norm; crop surgery with super glue, udders with internal malformations, dystocia during kidding, broken horns, meningeal worms, parasites, emergency c-sections, tube-feeding kids and more. You learn as much as you can and then, something new happens and you learn some more. We didn't think Salome was one of the does pregnant this season. We were wrong. Perhaps we should do blood draws on our does and send out to confirm pregnancy. We could spay those does who should never get bred. There is a significant cost involved with this and risk, but perhaps it would be worth it? We could rehome does that shouldn't breed to homesteads without any bucks. But, out of our hands, those farms could get bucks. They could sell the does to unsuitable homes. We could dose does who should not be pregnant with Lute. But, there can be complications there, too. Ultimately, you can only do your best. Sometimes it works and that is a good day. Sometimes it doesn't and you kick yourself for the failure. It is never easy.

Salome born March 17, 2013
I want to have something positive to say about the hope of kids being born to us over the coming months. I hope this is the bad spot for this season and the rest is all joy. I hope. That is all I can do. I can't leave you with this, though. It is a horrible ending. Instead, follow the link to read about Salome's beginning: Salome and Hadassah are born.

Thank you for visiting with us today, friends. We appreciate your company.

~Sonja ♥


  1. I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. Wow this was just like reading about my Spot. Except that she showed all signs of being in kid and went into labour. It was her first time kidding and she was quite different to my other doe who seemed to kid very quickly and easily. In my naivety I didn't intervene early enough and by the time the vet came she had a dead kid and a ruptured uterus. She would never be able to be kidded again and that was only if she survived an expensive surgery. It was a terrible decision but in hindsight the right decision to put her to sleep. It is an incredibly devastating situation to process, and to try to explain to our daughter. My Dad always says where you have livestock you have dead stock. Sad but true and in these cases these goats were probably always going to have trouble. Little comfort at the time though. :)

    1. So sorry to hear you had a similar experience! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. My heart goes out to out to you all.......I've lost animals in unexpected ways and it's difficult....you can't second guess yourselves- what little I know of u...u are excellent, caring,honest farmers.....God will help you...blessings....��

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Rain. I appreciate it so.

  4. I am sorry for your loss .Our animals are like our children and it is very painful to lose one

  5. Oh Sonja and Sean, We are so sorry to hear but has happened to Salome and her kid. We lost one loving curly soft pygora kid one time and he will always have a special place in our hearts as I am sure Salome will in yours.This rhythm of life that we live with G-d is hard sometimes. Your are in our prayers. Mark and Loy