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"When a goat goes down..."

Goats grazing honeysuckle

I thought the circling was bad. But watching my doe twirl in place was nothing compared to arriving with goat breakfast in hand Friday morning...and only having one goat meet me at the door. Artemesia was hidden beneath the milking stand, her eyes open but no other movement when I approached and begged her to get up. She ate a couple of pieces of carrots out of my hand after much coaxing. Then...nothing.

The next two days are a bit of a blur. After shots of an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, and two hours of crying (on my part) and sleep (on her part), Artemesia finally got to her feet. I was able to tempt her into eating a few carrot slices and honeysuckle over the course of the day by handfeeding her the way you feed paper into a shredder --- lining everything up perfectly and sometimes sending another piece through to dislodge the first if it gets stuck. But, overall, she appeared barely conscious.

The next morning, though, Artemesia was a little better...especially after I brought her down into the trailer to warm up in front of the wood stove. (It was eleven degrees outside, after all!) She still needed help consuming food, but at least her appetite had returned so she was interested in eating.

Unfortunately, by midafternoon, a heavy fever hit and she was down once again. This time, her head was burning up but the rest of her body was shaking hard. So I put her under my coat and held her for a couple of hours until the fever broke.

Napping goat

Once again, I walked her down to the trailer. It was nearly sunset at this point and I couldn't bear the thought of her freezing up in the barn all night while in her weakened state. But clouds rolled in and the temperature warmed. Meanwhile, Artemesia started feeling good enough to tramp around underneath the elevated sofa where we'd stashed her. She wasn't sleeping, I wasn't sleeping, and poor Aurora was crying up in the pasture where she wasn't sleeping either. So, at half past midnight, I limped my sick doe back up the hill and sent her to bed with her daughter.

I was afraid to check on Artemesia Saturday morning...but she actually looked a little better yet. I brought an armload of honeysuckle and she actually dived in and ate without assistance (although still slower than I would have liked). The vet came and gave her an extra dose of B vitamins plus a steroid, then took a fecal sample (since we both suspect worms might be wreaking havoc on her weakened system despite a dose of copper and, later, of Safeguard).

Sun goat

We'll have word back on her fecal sample today. In the meantime, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Artemesia continues to improve. I feel like she's already proved the medical world wrong twice --- according to the vet, once a goat goes down she usually doesn't get back up. Artemesia has picked herself up and brushed herself off twice now, so I hope she's willing to settle in for the long haul of frequent honeysuckle feedings and a return to full health.

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Anna, I raise both llamas and goats. Has your vet mentioned meningeal worms yet? They are rampant where deer are plentiful.

Comment by Julie K Whitmore Mon Feb 6 07:27:50 2017
The very real emotions of homesteading and the incredible responsibility of owning livestock. A hug sent your way, Anna.
Comment by Charity Mon Feb 6 11:35:43 2017
Oh, Anna, I'm so sorry that Artemesia is having such a tough time - and that you're suffering with her. I hope this latest treatment will do the trick and she's soon on her way back to robust health.
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Mon Feb 6 12:38:20 2017

Charity and Rhonda --- Thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate everyone's support. It has definitely been a difficult time...but worth it as Artemesia's health continues to improve.

Julie --- That's a good question. The circling is pretty diagnostic of either goat polio or listeriosis. That said, she could have two problems rather than just one. Hopefully we'll get lucky and the current fix will work no matter what it is/was.

Comment by anna Mon Feb 6 17:15:07 2017
Man, I hope she pulls through this. Perhaps where the tide starts turning for the better.
Comment by Chris Mon Feb 6 18:28:21 2017
Sending all the good thoughts and good vibes your way, and Artemisia's way. You must be scared to death. I hope she recovery very quickly.
Comment by Jennifer Mon Feb 6 20:28:16 2017

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime