Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Farewell, Sadie

Sadie in 2013 with her triplet does
The vet called today shortly before noon to say that she had consulted with a couple of reproductive specialists, and they said that if Sadie has not responded to the first two shots of prostaglandin, there is really no point in making her miserable with a third. If her cervix is not dilating, it's because of scar tissue or adhesions, and it's not going to dilate.

Sadie and her sister as kids in 2012
They did not recommend draining the uterus surgically because if it was full of pus, they would not be able to keep it from the abdominal cavity, so it would cause more problems. They did not recommend draining it through the cervix with a trochar because it would leave her with less than a five percent chance of ever carrying a pregnancy to term, and the odds are high that the uterus would simply fill with fluid again.

Sadie in 2013
They said that if her uterus continued to fill with fluid, it would eventually cause her to be unable to poop, and she was already straining to have a bowel movement. The uterus could eventually rupture, if she lived long enough. She's had a catheter in her for as long as she's been there, so that her bladder won't overfill again, but they couldn't send her home with a catheter.

In the end, our options came down to euthanasia or a hysterectomy, which would cost $1000, assuming nothing went wrong, which could drive up the price even more. Apparently doing a hysterectomy on a goat is more complicated than on dogs and cats. When I left her there on Thursday, the estimate was $700-800, and the bill is already $1100.

Sadie's udder as a 2 year old
It's been a horrible few hours, thinking about what to do. Hearing the estimate for a hysterectomy came as quite a shock. Last week, they had said it probably would be a few hundred dollars. A thousand dollars is about three times as much as what I'd been preparing myself for. I just can't justify spending $1000 to keep her alive, knowing that she would "only" be a pet afterwards. I already have four retired does, as well as an 8-year-old that has never been bred because she never grew big enough. Still, I hate the idea of essentially putting a price tag on her life. If I had all the money in the world, I would have easily said to do the hysterectomy. But I can't live my life as if I have money I don't have. And what would I do if next week another animal were to get injured or become ill? I have to try to maintain some sort of fiscal responsibility. Still, I hate it.

It makes it even worse for me that she's spent the last six days of her life alone in a strange place with strangers who've been poking her with needles and a catheter. I justified leaving her there because I thought they could make her well, and she'd be able to come home and be with her babies again. Sadie was such a shy kid, but after she freshened, she warmed up to me and the rest of the humans. I always told her that she could trust us, and as I was leaving her at the vet hospital last week, I couldn't help but think that she felt betrayed. If only I could have explained to her what was happening ...

Sadie in labor last month
So, I called the vet a little while ago and told her to euthanize Sadie. It was one of those horrible moments in life. I hated it. But I also hated that she had endured six more days of suffering because we were hoping to save her. They said the prostaglandin injections might not work, but in my head, I was thinking that they had to work. She would go into heat. Her cervix would open, and her uterus would drain. It sounded so simple. Surely, Sadie would be coming home again.

But then I think that I understand why farmers tend to be such spiritual people. Maybe it's to protect our sanity, but we have to believe that everything works out for the best. Perhaps Sadie was only with us for four years because that's what was meant to be. She's given me all that I was meant to have from her. I just realized that I have her son from last year. It sounds silly, but I kept forgetting to advertise him. Maybe there was a reason for that. This year, the person who had wanted two of Sadie's doelings wound up having to cancel after I had already marked them as sold on the website, and Sadie got sick before I had a chance to update the website stating that they were available.

One of Sadie's daughters born last month that we'll be keeping
Still, it's always hard to lose a good goat, and Sadie was great. She was very generous about giving me plenty of doe kids, starting with triplet does when she was only a year old. In four years, she gave us 14 kids, which included a remarkable 11 does! She also had outstanding parasite resistance, having never had a dewormer in her life. And until this year, she never had any birthing problems, even spitting out a couple of breech kids without help as a first freshening yearling. I'm so grateful to have three of her kids here, especially since I never had the foresight to consciously keep any of them, thinking that I had plenty of time since she was only four years old. Although we won't see her sweet face again, she left behind a great legacy in her kids. Perhaps that's the best thing that any of us -- human or goat -- can ever hope for, regardless of how many years we live.

Some decisions just suck

As much as I love my homesteading lifestyle, there are times when it just sucks. Now is one of those times.

Last week, our intern told me that Sadie was crying out when she was peeing. I went to the barn and watched her, and within a couple of minutes, she was squatting and screaming, and only a few drops of pee came out. I was puzzled as I have never heard of a doe having a urinary stone. Then life interrupted, and I forgot about her until the next day.

I called the University of Illinois veterinary clinic, and of course they suggested I bring her in, which I did. They ran a lot of urine and blood tests, which all came back normal, which meant she did not have an infection. She also did not have a fever. The interesting thing is that whenever anyone put pressure on her bladder -- whether under her belly or on her sides -- pee would squirt out of her like a water hose on high! They did an ultrasound, which showed an abnormal uterus, and Sadie had given birth five weeks earlier. They hypothesized about the contents of the uterus, and I learned a lot listening to their brainstorming. But they said we could learn more about the contents of the uterus by doing a CT scan. It would be about $450, and our bill was already up to a couple hundred. Even though the solution might lie in a hysterectomy, which would mean she could never have kids again, I agreed to do the test.

It showed that Sadie's uterus was filled with fluid. They're fairly sure that it's not pus because of the color, so it's probably blood or some other type of fluid. There are only two ways to get the fluid out. One is to give her a shot of prostaglandin, which should hopefully cause her to go into heat, which would open her cervix so it could drain. The other way to drain her uterus is surgically -- make a small incision and suction it out. However, will it fill up again?

I opted for the prostaglandin, and they gave her an injection on Saturday. As of Monday, she had not come into heat, so they gave her another injection at a higher dose. As of Tuesday afternoon, she had not come into heat, so they're planning to give her another injection today on Wednesday. But they said we should probably start thinking about surgical options. Other than draining her uterus, which may not work long term, a complete hysterectomy is the best way to eliminate the problem.

But then I'll have a dairy goat who can never get pregnant again. So, we could milk her until she dried up from this lactation, and then she would be worthless as a dairy goat. The bill is already up to $1100. Surgery would be another few hundred.

This is when you realize that being a grown up is not as awesome as you thought it was going to be when you were 12. This is when you wish that you had enough money that a couple thousand dollars didn't mean anything to you. This is when life sucks.

I want Sadie to be able to pee on her own, and to come home, and to continue nursing her three beautiful doelings that have already grown so big and strong during their first five weeks on their mama's milk. We've been trying to feed them milk from the other does with a bottle, and some feedings go better than others. Sometimes they seem to get it, and sometimes they have no clue. They're only getting about 50 percent as much as they should every day. Even though they're eating hay and grain, their immune systems are still very immature, and with the stress of losing their mama, I'm very concerned that I'll soon be seeing poopy butts caused by coccidiosis.

What if we pay for the surgery, but when Sadie comes home, she no longer remembers her kids and won't let them nurse? What if the stress of all this causes her milk to dry up? Or, what if she dies in spite of the surgery -- or because of it?

I suck as a business person. A good business person would have said to euthanize last week as soon as this became complicated. A good business person doesn't lose site of the bottom line. But I am clearly not a good business person. The bill is sitting at $1100 now, and I still can't give up on her, at least not today. She is still at the vet hospital, and I'm still hopeful that another shot of prostaglandin will do the trick. But what will I do if the prostaglandin doesn't work? I know what a good business person would do. I know what my heart wants me to do. But I honestly don't know what I will do.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Our new greenhouse!

A greenhouse or potting shed has been on my to do list for at least a decade. And this year, it finally got done! However, Mike and I didn't do this ourselves.

Sarah, our new garden partner, and her brother Pat, did the framing, then they had some help from our current intern Stefanie with putting it all together.

Finally, Mike did help with putting on the front and back, as well as the door and windows, which were some of the more challenging aspects. Cutting corrugated plastic at an angle is tricky business.

We still need to put shelving inside, but otherwise it's done.

Sarah will be starting seedlings next week, so the greenhouse will be put to work very soon!

If you'd like to build your own greenhouse like this, here is the plan we used, although we put plywood and siding on the bottom, rather than metal. We had some left-over siding from when we built our house, so we wanted to use that. We were also happy to be able to repurpose the door.


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