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HELP! Advice needed about goat.

 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 374
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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One of our goats just died. We were down to two after having had more than a dozen over the last 20+ years -- all rescues and pets. (They have gradually nearly all died of old age.) This one was 14 and her companion is 15.

We have absolutely NO idea what killed her except that one night, last week, they did not come back to the barn as usual in the evening. [They go out to browse early and come back to their fenced area periodically for water, hay or just to sit in the shade. We check on them every couple hours and always lock them in at night, but let them roam around the property during the day -- they usually stay close by where we can keep an eye on them, so we don't worry.]

This particular night, as I said, they did not come in around 6 or 7pm as usual. We figured they must be nearby, just out of sight, so went to look for them. We ended up looking for them until about 3am because we didn't see that they were actually really close but hidden by some brush. The one that dies (Sugar) was down and apparently sick, and the other (Blossom) was standing next to her, afraid to leave her. They were so quiet that we overlooked them in the dark.

We assumed that Sugar must have ingested something toxic, like dried prunus leaves, etc. or even gotten bitten by a copperhead, but we couldn't find anything definite. Over the course of the last week, we have been babying her -- giving her food and water by hand and leading her out to eat (staying with her), etc. - dosed her with thiamine too for good measure. She seemed to be gaining strength daily. Today, my husband came in and said he thought she was cured of whatever it was. He said she was at least 75% well (as a conservative estimate) and we were breathing a sigh of relief. Then tonight, when he went out to give them their nightly ration of goat pellets, she was dead. Just like that! No warning whatsoever!

As sad as it is that she died and as awful as it is that we have no idea what actually was wrong with her (there are NO large mammal veterinarians in our area by the way) the problem we now face is about the other goat. Blossom has been with other goats her entire life. Her twin brother died, then her mother, then her son and all her half siblings and friends. Now she is all alone. We don't know what to do.

We do not want to get more goats, and ultimately we would have this problem again anyway, since there will always be a LAST goat when they die off one by one of old age or something. We can't bring her into the yard area because we have 9 dogs -- at least 6 of whom love to chase goats, chickens and cats (anything that moves, really). We can't leave her out in the pasture and barn alone and we don't have any other suitable companion for her. In fact, as we're getting older, we're trying to gradually get to a point of not having animals at all because we feel it would be irresponsible to leave them behind if we died. (We don't have the money to set up a trust fund for them and don't know anyone we would trust to care for them here until they died!)

We just can't stand to leave her like that. She is very timid, and the goat yard is at least 300' from the house and bordered by dark woods along the entire east side where it joins Mark Twain National Forest. Chickens come and go in the goat yard, and, of course, we go in to see her too, but that doesn't seem enough. Any advice on what we can do to ease her loneliness?
 
Dillon Nichols
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Hi Deb, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your goat, she was obviously well loved.


Is it possible you could find someone who needs space to board or self-board an animal that would be a good companion for Blossom?

Other than that, nothing really comes to mind beyond looking for a home for her elsewhere with other goats, which is no doubt easier said than done.

I applaud your decision to avoid acquiring more animals in the absence of a reliable future caretaker; there would be less suffering if everyone was this considerate of their animal companions. It's a shame such a caretaker is so hard to come by.

Good luck with your dilemma!
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 374
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
18
books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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Thanks Dillon, I appreciate your compassion and sympathy. Blossom is too old and timid to even think of putting her elsewhere -- especially given the area where we live. Around here, a goat is just meat on hooves waiting for the next BBQ. People really don't care about them as pets or even fellow living beings except as commodities to be minimally cared for until such time as they are wanted for food.

We actually tried once -- several years ago when we had 15 goats -- to place them in another home. We were having such a hard time making ends meet and we thought they would be better off with someone who had more money and time to invest in their care. We thought we had found the perfect person in a young woman who also had goats, sheep and horses. She promised to love them and care for them forever, never separate them from one another (most were related to one another and very close) and even knew all their names (from photos I sent) when she came and got them in a big trailer. We were sad at their leaving, but we felt we were doing the right thing (like giving a child up for adoption so s/he could have a better life).

3 days later, an acquaintance emailed with a link to goats for sale, saying "I thought you gave them to someone who promised not to sell or separate them." We went to the link and were horrified to see all of them up for sale (using photos I took of them!!!) We didn't know what to do! I called my husband at work and he rushed straight home. We got on the phone to the woman, but she refused to explain her actions. She just said, you gave them to me and their mine to do with as I please. She kept hanging up on us, so my husband jumped in the car and drove 2 hours to her house to find them before they could be sold. She wouldn't answer the door and called the police on my husband. After being confronted with cops, my husband was forced to leave them there. It was heart-breaking because they were all confined to a single tiny, dirty pen and were squalling to get to him. She came out of the house long enough to say we could have them back if we paid her $400 for them and hauled them back ourselves. (We had given them to her for free, just so they would have a "good home"!)

Long story short... we managed to borrow money to rent a trailer (we did not own one) and scraped together the ransom money and brought them back home. Some of them -- who had never been mistreated by us a day in their lives -- had obviously been beaten. One doe (a particularly stubborn one) had a blue and black udder and could hardly walk. We had to put her on antibiotics for 2 weeks because she got so sick from the beating. It was the most horrific and traumatizing thing we had ever been through and we have felt horribly guilty about it ever since. It was like a nightmare only it was real. All we could do for weeks after that was say "We're so sorry!" to them over and over while we hugged and kissed them (until they got sick of us, I think).

Apparently that couple were making a good income pretending to care about and rescue animals, then immediately selling them. I tried to let people know about them on all the goat forums, but there was little else we could do. This state is not known for its compassionate treatment of animals, As for any sympathy or support, most people just said we were stupid for trusting and should have known better. The law just laughed.

Anyway, that is why we would NEVER let her go elsewhere. As for boarding someone else's animals, we really don't want the responsibility in case something would happen to them. As I said, we have dogs and we live right on the edge of the forest. Besides, we get too attached. I think we have been in a constant state of grief for the last 25 years with all the wonderful animals who have shared our lives and unfortunately left us too soon. I think it is a major curse to be a relatively long-lived species when all your most loved ones are old by the age of 10 or so. We know life includes death, and yet it goes on, but it is so hard to say good-bye to them one after another...

Poor Blossom. I keep wishing that she would have a stroke or something else, sudden and painless, to let her go so that she does not suffer from loneliness. She stays in her barn and only comes out every so often to look around and call for Sugar. She did this before when her brother, and mother and son died. Sugar was her half-sister. At least before, there were others each time to ease her loneliness, but now there is no one but us. I keep going out and sitting with her, but she isn't really interested in me. She wants another goat. It is just too sad.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Wow. What an unbelievably terrible experience, and what an awful person to do such a thing. Those words really don't seem strong enough. That sort of trauma would definitely stop me from ever parting ways with animals under my care. It sounds like she was quite practiced at this con.

I'm not sure that the law here would have done anything more, but I'd like to hope so... Seems like that sort of blatant reversal should be breach of contract, even if was only verbal contract... at a minimum I'm reasonably confident that sentiment would be on your side, and sympathy is free. As someone who has participated in raising meat animals, providing good care and a chance for a pig to be a pig seems necessary to


I can see why boarding wouldn't appeal; I wouldn't really want to take that on either, unless the owner was living onsite... which in turn is a whole nother kettle of fish in terms of interpersonal compatibility.


It seems like you can't win with dependent creatures in some ways; the short-lived ones break your heart by leaving so soon, but if one has a tortoise or parrot that might outlive you, the same problem of assuring a good home arises. Really all you can do is provide the best life possible for your creatures, and remember the good times when they've gone, trite as it sounds. For all the pain that comes with them, I can't help feeling sorry for the people I know who have no pets or animal contact at all; it seems like a bizarrely empty sort of life.

Nothing else comes to mind at all for your dilemma; as you pointed out, there is unfortunately always going to be a last goat... I hope Blossom adjusts as well as possible, or, as you say, something quick and painless.

Ugh, not real uplifting. I'm going to go find a cat to pet.
 
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