There will be blood

There has to be a Murphy’s Law to animal husbandry, though I do not know what it is called.  I may not know its name, but I certainly know what it is.

Let me give you some recent examples.

By this law, one’s first and favorite goat (and best milker) will confound you.  On returning her to her pen this snowy Friday evening–after a day spent away from the farm–you notice that yes, indeed, she is limping.  She is limping because she’s somehow badly gashed her leg (and a quick survey in the gloaming shows a goatshed and yard quite pink with bloody snow) and she’s not telling you how she’s done it.

By this law, the call to your housecall-making vet will come up empty.  By this law, your second call to another vet will land you with an early morning appointment…35 miles south of your own farm, at his office, because he does not make housecalls.  By this law, you know your travels to and from said vet will be during the one and only blizzard of this winter season, and, by a second law called Lake Effect Snow, you will leave from and return to your sunshine-bathed house, where barely a flake has fallen.

It’s no fun milking a three-legged goat, incidentally, especially since we can’t drink her antibiotic-laced milk.  She’s fine, no stitches, lots of treats.

Another example of this law:  After tirelessly monitoring the state of your doeling’s estrus, she will fall into heat (the last heat of the season) on the same day your daughter goes to the hospital for a week.  Therefore, you do not get the doeling bred and she remains the fat if cute hayburner that she was before.

Who’re you calling fat?  Ivy and her mama Cricket (who hopefully is pregnant)

Here’s another:  Only when you have a surfeit of some one animal is the time when said group of animals remains unbothered by either disease or predation.  So when people ask if I have problems with hawks or coyotes eating my free-ranging chickens, I say “no, unfortunately.”

Poor Penny:  green really is not her color

And yet another:  Despite the notches on her belt collar, our fearless farmdog Penny finally met a raccoon who could indeed bite her back.  (The Rodenator as she’s otherwise known has killed at least a dozen raccoons and even more opossums in her years as self-appointed farm protector.   Mice and voles are uncountable.  She’s quite valuable.)  You realize it is thanks to her that you have so many chickens.  She does her job admirably well.

If any of you were to follow me down this path of farm-animal ownership (as many are), my only word of wisdom is to expect that you will not be exempt from this law.  One must simply accept it with a tired smile, and a backup plan.

Oh, and having on hand a full first-aid kit–as well as many vets’ phone numbers–won’t hurt you.

Pauline the coop door bouncer has the last word

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14 responses to “There will be blood

  1. It seems as though you have to have the capability to do a lot of the low-level vetting yourself, yes? What a “not raining but pouring” run you’ve had. Animals, kids, it never really stops. Hang in there — spring is coming.

  2. Sorry about the injured animals – but glad everything is fairly minor. When do you expect Cricket to kid?

    And hey, I will take some of that good luck with your chickens. It’s not as bad is it could be, but the hawks/coyotes/foxes are a constant threat around here. And I can’t forget the neighbor’s dog.

  3. sorry for the troubles… it never rains but it pours, right? I have a limping goat (hoofrot) and a pony who had to be sedated to the tune of $400 to get her feet done. AArgh!

  4. Ozarkhomesteader

    Well, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for giving my Buff Orpington a bath and blow drying after she got a dirty rump that she couldn’t seem to take care of herself. Compared to what you’ve been through, I had a very easy day!
    (And who knew giving a chicken a bath and blow drying was so easy?!?)

  5. With every challenge comes greater knowledge and ability to handle more next time. 🙂

  6. Hang in there, El! xo, Annette

  7. Thank you.
    Reality is good for me to consider occasionally

  8. Ah yes, I remember how our vet once told us they leave lots of openings on the monday after holiday weekends, as stuff ALWAYS happens. I similarly learned that the emergency vet will tell you all sorts of good stuff over the phone too if you call on a Sunday 🙂

    Glad all turned out to be not too serious–for girls and four-legged creatures alike.

  9. Stef, well as a kid I thought I would be a vet so I suppose I am kind of living out some thwarted dream. Yes, we have betadine and gauze and vet wrap but I do so much enjoy the professional opinion, especially with something like bites. Poor Pen-pen.

    Serina I guess I didn’t mean to sound so blase about the chicken luck. We’ve had success raising chickens here so the numbers can quickly become untenable, thus my heavy sighs. All it would take really is an ad in Craigslist and/or a trip to the butcher in April to cull all those extra roosters…something I just will have to do. I am sorry about the neighbor’s dog, that is rougher than rough, at least a hawk/fox/coyote/coon has its wild nature as an excuse, you know? And Cricket will hopefully kid in late May…meaning I have to dry her off in less than a month, which, not knowing if she really is preggers or not is a bit of a downer.

    Aimee I read about your drunken pony and I did have to laugh a bit. Poor thing though (meaning YOU and your vet bill, ouch!)

    Hi Ozarkhomesteader! Did your Buff enjoy her spa treatment? Every great once in a while that poop thing will happen with my flock and i dose them heavily with yogurt and whey and the like; seems to flush it out, at least, that’s what I am hoping it is doing. How funny though!

    Pam, indeed, I have to warn myself not to panic and start thinking straight. I at least had all the vet supplies (including phone numbers) in an old art/tackle box and (small miracle) actually knew where I could find it!

    Thanks, Annette. I have to tell myself this is some kind of harmonic convergence and not necessarily The Way Things Are.

    Only occasionally, Cohutt? Hah!

    Sara, yeah, it’s interesting, where the vet money “is at” as it is with aging dogs and cats, period. Not goats, not even horses necessarily. Thus, I am severely stretching the town doc’s skillz when I bring in a bunny to be neutered and/or ask him seriously if he would sonogram my goat to verify her pregnancy.

  10. The engineer in me wonders if the antibiotics in the milk are fat-soluble or water-soluble. If the former, maybe some antibiotic goat cheese might be worth having in the freezer in case of some future need. If the latter, maybe making clarified butter would salvage most of the food value in it.

    The practical person in me realizes that this line of thinking is pretty ridiculous, and the risk of an accidental, low dose of antibiotics isn’t worth the value of the food in question.

    • Exactamundo, Joel: it’s falling in the “when in doubt, throw it out” category.

      What is interesting to me is the antibiotic in question (penicillin) was served up as a horse cure, not a goat one. Almost no meds (wormers, antibiotics, general vaccines, etc.) are goat-specific; being the least common of the commonly raised farm animals the poor goats tend to get dosed on a reduction basis (if the meds in question were formulated for cows or horses) or as an equal basis if they were geared toward sheep. Like finding a cure for malaria or any other tropical disease, there’s no money in it for the pharmaceutical companies. None.

      And since we don’t milk horses, there’s no real recommendation on when the milk is “safe” to drink again. SO I waited a week. Either I can cut my finger and not risk infection after my chevre-on-toast breakfast, or it’s biz as usual. Who knows!

  11. Would love to know what you keep in your first aid kit, and what your sources may be… I have not had very good luck at the local farm stores in our mostly non-agriculteral area- they tend to have things that they think the hobby farmer may want. Apparently the average hobby farmer is more than willing to shell out money to the urban vet.
    Which means my first aid kit is a cobbled together disaster of animal & people stuff. Also, any great book/web resources for dealing w/ these murphy-induced home emergencies?
    I am with you on the murphy’s law of animals. I cannot count how many times the rabbits have kindled, finally (apparently) producing an offspring worthy of showing…and that is the ONE baby that doesn’t make it. Or it never fails that you’re running out the door late for work when the dog brings to your attention that it cut it’s ankle (deeply) on some mysterious but apparently razor sharp bit of mischief that can never be located… Thank you for sharing, apparently misery loves company- as reading your post made me feel better (on a day when running out the door late to work, the dog had mysteriously run off and it took an hour to locate him & return him to his proper realm).

    • That’s a good question, Shauna. I think it depends on the animal in question that requires doctoring. Regular ol’ people betadine, antibiotic cream & spray, nonstick bandage pads and even sticky wrap (like Penny’s) is good to have around. I also have a kind of superglue for sealing cuts together, from Johnson & Johnson; the same stuff the ER used to seal a cut on my baby’s forehead with when she fell…that I got from my vet. Other things are kind of particular, like I have a whole birthing kit for the goats…but even that’s mostly cobbled together from Walgreens. So yes, not terribly specific…though there are places more than willing to sell you creature-specific kits!

  12. Thanks for the response El…sounds like our kits probably look pretty similar. Here’s to us do-it-yourselfers and patcher-uppers. 🙂 Good luck with your patients!

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