Monday, April 7, 2014

Livi's triplet does

The goats have been very considerate of my handicap lately and have all broken the Doe Code of Honor, which states that goats will always give birth at the worst possible time. The last four goats to give birth have all done so when Katherine was here on the weekend.

This morning Mike came into the house and said that Livi's udder was quite impressive and that her tail ligaments were nowhere to be found, so Abby moved her to a kidding pen. By the afternoon when Livi started to sound serious about giving birth, Katherine and I were the only two people home. Katherine kept saying that she needed to get back to Urbana, but the longer Livi was in labor, the more I worried and told Katherine that she really needed to stay here until Livi had given birth.

"Do I look like I could help a goat give birth in my condition?" I asked.

Katherine chuckled and agreed to stay until Livi's kids were born. At 2:15 when Katherine went to the barn to check on Livi, she decided to do an internal check because Livi had been pushing for more than an hour with no visible progress. She felt a hock, which is part of a goat's hind leg. It is not an ideal birthing position. She came back into the house, and we chatted about the situation. We agreed there was no way she could do anything to assist in getting the kids out by herself, and I would not be able to help. Mike was supposed to be home shortly after 3:00, so we decided to go out to the barn to wait, in case Livi got things sorted out on her own and actually gave birth.

About 2:45 Katherine went out to the barn, and I followed, although it took me about five times as long to get there. It was the first time I've been outside by myself in two weeks. I am quite sure that I have never walked so slowly across our yard ever before. When I finally reached the kidding barn, I sat on the milk stand right outside of Livi's pen. Livi seemed to be getting quite serious about pushing, but she also worried us because her back legs did not seem to be working quite right. She would get up, take a couple of steps, and her back end seemed to collapse.

It looked like one of the kids was pressing on a nerve, which was causing her back legs to not work quite right. Katherine had said the kid's hock felt quite small, which did not make much sense to me. It is usually extra large kids that cause problems by pressing on the nerves like that. As we discussed the situation, a bubble began to emerge. A few more pushes, and there was a hoof, then a nose. And then, the first kid was born!

Katherine couldn't believe the kid was born hoof and nose first because she was absolutely certain she had felt a hock. "I could wrap my finger around it," she said. My theory is that there had been two kids trying to come out at once, and she simply didn't feel the nose of the second kid. Luckily the head-first kid beat out the hock-first kid and was born first. That would also explain why Livi seemed to be having trouble with her back end collapsing. The kid was actually quite small. Even though Livi is a mini mancha, the kid was the size of a Nigerian, which is a smaller breed. But two of those kids squashed together trying to squeeze out together could have caused enough pressure on the nerves in her hips to cause her walking problems.

A few minutes later, a second kid was born, nose and hoof first. And about half an hour later -- after Mike arrived home -- a third kid was born. After the first two kids had blazed the trail, Livi didn't seem to be concerned at all about another being born. She was standing up, and as Katherine reached over to catch the kid, Livi started walking! So, in this next picture, Katherine had been holding the kid, but when Livi started walking, her hand slipped off the head and body, and at the moment I snapped this picture, everything had slipped out of her hand except the leg.

And in the next picture, you can see that Katherine had lunged forward and managed to get her hands on the baby before it fell to the ground.

Although I'm sure many goat babies throughout history have fallen to the ground safely as their mothers gave birth standing up, it just isn't something that we humans can watch without trying to help soften the kid's entrance in this world. When you see a baby falling, you just have to catch it.

Yes, all three kids had been born head first. Someone had done a flip in the last hour, probably the third kid since it took so long to be born after the second one.

Even though Livi is a mini mancha, all three of these doelings were born with Nigerian dwarf ears. The thing I love about la manchas is the tiny little ears, but of the six 1/4 la mancha, 3/4 ND kids we have had born so far this spring, five of them have had ND ears, even though the odds are 50/50 when an erect-eared goat is crossed with an elf-eared goat. What is truly amazing, though, is that six of the six crossbred goats have been does!

Katherine also made sure all of the doelings nursed before she left. Unfortunately, she won't be home again until Easter, and we have two more goats due to kid before then -- including Windy, the mini mancha that had meningeal worm last November. Between the disease and all of the drugs she was given, I am amazed that she is actually pregnant. Life could get interesting in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Falling apart -- and lessons from a goat from years past

The first three months of 2014 have flown past, and I don't mean that they have flown past in the usual way. It seems that all of us constantly talk about how time flies, but the last three months have been a blur of one doctor's office after another, one test after another, and an emotional roller coaster. I've been diagnosed with five different conditions and told that I might have cancer (twice now), and I flip flop back and forth between wanting to throw in the towel and move to the burbs and then gathering up the strength to keep pushing myself forward -- because seriously, what would I do in a condo in the burbs?

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. We have a lot of catching up to do! Two Sundays ago I was in San Francisco at a publishing conference and I had a few hours before my plane would be leaving, so I decided to take a walk around Fisherman's Wharf. After a delicious breakfast at an organic cafe, I was two blocks into my walk, and for some crazy reason I decided to run across the street, didn't look down, and tripped over the curb. I hit my head and shoulder on a brick wall, skinned the palm of my right hand and my right forearm, sprained the thumb on my left hand, and really smashed my knee. Having far too many problems with my knees in my life, I knew I needed to head back to the hotel and spend the next two hours with ice, which I did. I also bandaged up the skinned areas. Twelve days later (ER, primary care doc, ortho doc + x-ray, ultrasound, and MRI), my knee is still swollen and painful, but I only have a massive hematoma in the bursa. The bad news is that I also have grade four arthritis in the knee. Who knew they grade arthritis? And four is the worst grade. (I've never received the worst grade on anything in my life!) A quick online search tells you that grade four is when they start talking about knee replacement.

The latest cancer scare came when they x-rayed my knee. The morning after I was in the ER, I got a phone call from the hospital, and the woman said that a radiologist had looked at my x-rays, and although he did not see any breaks, he did see a "lesion" on my tibia. He said that I needed to have an MRI to rule out bone cancer. I had a good cry after I hung up the phone. Seriously, how many people are told they might have cancer twice in two months. The thyroid biopsy came back benign in February, and thankfully the knee MRI did not reveal a cancerous lesion. They concluded that it was either a benign fibroma or an old injury. And after the ortho doctor saw me, he said that it was caused by the knee surgery I had as a teen.

But wait, that's not all! The day before I left for San Francisco, I visited my primary care doc, because the gastroenterologist said he didn't think my swollen throat, cough, and hoarseness were caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), although he was willing to do an endoscopy to rule it out. Rather than wanting to wait for those results, I took my little self right back to my primary care doc's office the next day.

While I was there, I had a coughing fit, which she said sounded like a bronchospasm. She had me blow into a peak flow meter, and 300 was the best I could do, which is low for someone of my age and height. So, I did a breathing treatment with a nebulizer and my peak flow went up to 350, which is still low but improved, so she said I probably have asthma. She gave me a prescription for an inhaler, as well as another prescription for an oral asthma med. I quickly discovered that the pain in my chest was from my bronchial tubes getting inflamed and that using the inhaler helped tremendously. Initially I was using it about four times a day, but now that I've been taking the oral meds, I've only had that tightening in my chest about every other day. I've also purchased an air purifier for our bedroom. It stinks to know that I have asthma, but it is far less severe than some of the stories I've heard, so I'm grateful for that and for knowing what causes the pain in my chest.

So, between January and today, I've been diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, GERD, asthma, a mold allergy, and grade four arthritis in my knee. In addition to my primary care doc, I've also seen an endocrinologist, a general surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, a gastroenterologist, and I've been referred to an ENT and an allergist but have not seen them yet. I've had a thyroid biopsy, a leg ultrasound, x-rays, an MRI, and more blood tests than I can remember. I have an endoscopy scheduled for the end of April but may skip it if this swollen feeling in my throat goes away.

So! What next?

As you might imagine, I have had a lot going through my head in the last three months and especially in the past twelve days as I've been laid up in bed! I've had way too much time to think, and I've had tons of time to research these various ailments, as well as hang out on Facebook. I saw someone complaining on a goat group about buying goats from an older man who was selling off his herd because he could no longer care for them, and the person who posted was not very charitable in her assessment of the living condition of the goats. All I could think was that I never want to be the crazy old goat lady who held on to her goats longer than they could be properly cared for, but I seriously expected that time would come when I was 70-something, not 51!

In January, we incorporated the farm as Antiquity Oaks LLC because I wanted to focus on our goal of creating a learning farm for future homesteaders and farmers. I was going to formalize and expand our classes and internship program. We had so many plans -- more than I want to share at this point -- because it has all come to a screeching halt for the past three months. My goals and enthusiasm waver from day to day and sometimes moment to moment, depending upon what is happening. Sometimes I feel like this is the end! I'm washed up and done and should just move to a condo in south Texas. Other days I'm positive I can still make my dreams come true -- helping to educate people about growing, preparing, and eating good food. I am still as passionate as ever when it comes to my desire to help people live better lives. Besides that, I was just about ready to lose my mind after a few days in bed!

It was much easier, however, to talk about healthy living when I had not had a cold in five years. It has been hard for me to accept myself now that I'm not the perfect picture of health. I can't help but feel like I have failed in some way, even though none of my ailments are specifically related to food or diet. Having been adopted, I don't know my complete family medical history, so the cards could really be stacked against me genetically. One reason I have tried to maintain such a healthy lifestyle is because I could not look at my ancestors and see that they lived long, happy lives.

Even though I have had some days when I thought about calling it quits, I do still find myself thinking about this year's doelings growing up and becoming productive milkers. I consider including meat and eggs in our new CSA instead of only providing vegetables to members. I ponder the effectiveness of adding ducks to our garden for insect and weed control and then selling their eggs. I search online for pond plants that might help to naturally control algae. I think about building a cabin where interns can live. Whenever I think about the future, I am here. Antiquity Oaks seems to have become a part of my identity and my very being. Although I might be able to leave for a short vacation, I don't think I could really give up this lifestyle.

Years ago we had a doe named Rosewood that was suddenly paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. For the first half hour or so, she was furious. She was screaming and struggling wildly to stand. And then she calmed down and accepted her new reality. I knew she had taught me a priceless lesson. I could not imagine any human being so quickly accepting such a fate. Rosewood eventually learned to walk on her front legs alone, balancing her body and her limp hind legs in the air. I have been thinking of her lately and am thankful that I do not have anything nearly as devastating to deal with. If she could learn to walk on her front legs, then surely I can deal with the challenges that have come my way.


Related Posts with Thumbnails