The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Goat polio

Sick goat

Artie's sick and it's my own fault. Here's hoping Mark's TLC will fix what I broke.

What did I do wrong? When I was under the weather this fall, I didn't pay enough attention to Artemesia's fat levels. She was losing weight, but I figured if I stopped milking her the decline would turn into an incline. Unfortunately, Aurora kept nursing on the sly and her mother got thinner and thinner.

By the time Artemesia finally weaned her daughter, it was the end of November and she'd been bred --- more hungry children sipping away at her fat stores. I tried to counteract the depletions by increasing her concentrates...but I'm now realizing that actually knocked her gut bacteria out of whack and ruined their ability to create that all-important goat vitamin: thiamine.

Circling goat

To cut a long story short, Artie started circling this past weekend, which doesn't sound like a big deal. But it's kinda scary when your goat isn't able to stand still long enough to eat and instead spins endlessly, pivotting around one hind foot so relentlessly that she builds up a three-foot-long trail of twisted straw. (For future reference, laying down hay instead of stray at least prevents the buildup since the shorter particles don't turn into the same sort of rope.)

Giving a goat a shot

Monday we were flooded in and unable to do anything about it. But Tuesday I sent Mark to the vet to get thiamine and penicillin (the latter is to treat the related listeriosis, which is an unlikely counter-diagnosis, but possible). Then my long-suffering husband got to learn to jab needles through tough goat hide...two needles four times a day until she's healed.

A day and a half in, we're seeing heartening signs of progress, but still plenty of spinning. I'll keep you posted as Artemesia (hopefully) rebounds back to her usual cheerful self.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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