Sunday, May 07, 2006

Whew! What a morning!

Some way to start our second anniversary, eh? (We have been in our new home for two years now.)

You see, I was going down into the pen to fish something out of the watering trough when...

But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story. (to borrow a line from Captain Underpants)

A few days ago, I happened to be looking down the hill to a nice, fertile area where raspberries grow. The guineas were pitching a fit, but that isn't unusual. They were down there in the wild raspberry patch squawking away. It looked like our big yellow neutered tomcat was toying with them. He generally doesn't do that, but the other cats have been known to lunge at the birds just to watch them squawk. The birds, of course, have been known to lay a well-aimed peck on the cats. Ah, sibling rivalry...

But then I saw that it was no cat. It was a coyote! Those animals have been around, but they generally avoid coming too close to our house (though they like to root through the garbage at the neighbor's place).

By the time anyone was able to get the .22, he was long gone. We'll be watching for him, though! Later on, Mary went through the back woods to look at some predator sign that she had seen before (fur from a killed animal, predator scat, etc.)

But you can bet that we'll be paying more attention to the guineas now! They are famous for squawking up a storm whenever something disturbs them. The only problem is that it's generally hard to tell what set them off.

A couple days later, I went to a friend's house and managed to pick up a tick. I scraped the thing off, squeezed the bite to get some of the fluid out, and put a drop of bleach on it to kill anything that might be there. I might be paranoid, but I'll do what I can to avoid Lyme disease.

We don't have ticks at our place. Guineas are famous for eating them. Good guineas! That, in itself, earns them their keep.

So, a couple nights ago, I was outside investigating a guinea alarm. Nope, no critters this time. Our alpha rooster Stripe was sitting just outside the coop along with one of his hens.



This rooster is one of the original four (that we brought over with us), and is Gabe's rooster. He has produced quite a few offspring for us.

But, he was just sitting out there with that one hen.

Lately, he has been getting battered. It's hard when you're the top roo. He had a knock-down drag-out fight with Little Red, who used to be the second in command (it's hard to tell now that the rooster population has exploded). He seems to be the top roo, but he has to defend that position, and the guinea cocks are relentless at picking on him. Poor guy.

But his luck seems to have run out. I picked him up and noticed that his right leg was sticking out at a weird angle. I took him inside and let Mary look at him. The leg wasn't broken, it was just out of joint. Mary managed to pop it in, so we wrapped him and set him in the barn.

By the next day, he was out of the wrap and somewhat mobile -- though limping. Unfortunately, the rest of the birds wouldn't leave him alone. By the end of the day, the joint was back out, and he was in bad shape.

So, I handed him to Mary and got the ax. I have done in chickens before, but it's a bummer to have to do in an animal that's somewhere between being livestock and being a pet.

I chased the kids away, but they managed to come back just in time to see me do the deed. Gabe took it rather hard, but he's OK now. The part that I didn't like was the fact that he flinched (they do that), so I ended up chopping of his comb and upper beak. I hate it when that happens, though not as much as the bird does, I am sure. We did it again and got the job done this time. But the head was still gasping for a few seconds.

I really prefer a killing cone and a nice, sharp knife. It's a whole lot easier to do a good job with a minimum of suffering. The problem is, it would have really hurt his leg to use that method.

I dug a hole to bury this guy, but I didn't bury him just then. The cats had run out of food that day, and we couldn't get any more until the next day. So, I slit the skin open at his breast and let the all-too-eager cats eat their fill. The next day, the dog found the carcass and started dragging it around. Alas, our faithful Labrador Lucy has a large lump, and may not last much longer. She's happy and healthy now, but you never know...

Anyhow, back to the original story.

I walked down into the pen to dump out the watering trough because our one silkie hen had managed to fall into it and drown herself. That's a real bummer. She was a nice little hen.

I looked over at our pregnant goat and she let out a loud bawl (more like a moan). She had something sticking out of her butt.

I went over there and, sure enough, she was giving birth. The kid was stuck, though. They had been that way for a long time. I could tell because the kid's head was starting to dry out. It was still alive, though -- but only just barely. I tried pulling him out, but he was stuck. He just wasn't coming.

Mary was still in the house reading to the (human) kids, so I called to Don and had him call her out. She was still in her scrubs from working last night.

So Mary came out and we tried some more. Or, rather, Mary tried. She's the one that got all that icky gooky slimy goop all over herself.

She ended up reaching up inside poor old Spot and trying to maneuver things. She felt a second kid, which surprised us. Most first time births are singles.

So, she pushed the second kid back up in and did considerable maneuvering to try to get this first one out. He was simply being presented wrong. Goats (and horses and cows and sheep) are supposed to come out front feet first with the head between the front knees -- kind of like they're diving. This kid had his feet back, and probably bent.

But Mary finally got one shoulder out, then the second. It didn't get easy after that, though. He was a big boy, and had to be pulled all the way out. His cord was collapsed and white so any oxygen he was getting was through his own feeble breathing. His body looked floppy and deflated. Mary suctioned his nose and mouth, and tried to get him breathing again, but to no avail. He didn't make it. We're still confused by the fact that all the mucus around him was yellow in color -- sort of like egg yolk.

The second one came easily. Mary pulled her head out because she was making noise in there. She gave one bawl, so obviously, she managed to get some air in her lungs. We left her with just her head sticking out while Mary tried to revive her big brother. He would have been quite the strapping lad if he had made it.

The little doe was cold, so I got a towel for Mary. I watched mother and kid for a while, but finally carried the little doeling in because she felt cool to the touch. Mary showered her off with warm water and dried her. She is now quite perky and doing well.

Spot (mom), on the other hand, has had a rough time. I delivered a bucket of water to her, then some grain, then some hay. We had problems with the other animals wanting her food. I was afraid that the horse would step on her.

The person who sold Spot to us is a midwife. Mary called her pager, and we got a call back soon enough. She suggested that we milk some colostrum out of Spot and give it to the baby. We ended up getting all too little, so we poured some goat milk in from the refrigerator and give it to the baby. She sucked it down readily.

Meanwhile, I mixed some molasses and water to give Spot an energy boost. While we were there, Spot tried to pass the afterbirth. It really looked like her uterus had prolapsed, so I called Deb again. It ended up being the placenta. What a relief! I had visions of having to take the .22 out there and put our doe out of her misery. As it turns out, you can save a doe that has a prolapsed uterus by carefully cleaning and disinfecting it, and pushing it back up inside.

Whew! We have one new goat, and I had to enlarge Stripe's grave to handle two more animals. Today, we welcomed a healthy little doeling into the world, and buried her brother, our little silkie hen, and the remains of Gabe's rooster.

I just hope Spot makes it.

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