An inevitable part of raising animals is losing animals. Hopefully, at the end of a good, long life or a humane dispatch.
Unfortunately, a good death isn't always the case. Predators, internal parasites, toxic plants in fields and hay sources, accidents, kidding problems, extreme temperatures and weather, diseases and illnesses, a lack of goat-knowledgeable veterinarians...the list of life-threatening problems is long.
I am thankful that we've had relatively few losses. But each one hurts. I try to learn from the experiences. I try to be thankful for the good memories of those lost too soon and be grateful the other healthy animals still in the fields in barns. I try to hope instead of dread. But it isn't easy, sometimes. Farming is experiencing the full spectrum of life.
Farming is not easy. Please, even if you are not a farmer, be kind to those that are. It is very possible non-farmers just cannot grasp the struggles of those in the ag industry. It isn't just animal losses - it is weather, the market, debt, sometimes the pressure of preserving the farms that have been in the family for generations...so many stresses pummel ag workers, year after year, season after season.
"Farmers are among the most likely to die by suicide, compared with other occupations, according to a January study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also found that suicide rates overall had increased by 40% in less than two decades." - from the March 2020 article found at the USA Today website, the story a collaborations with USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Several resources are available, including the Farm Aid Crisis Hotline and the Farm Crisis Center as well as organizations at the state level.
Farming is not easy, but there is always help and always hope.
Mickey Rooney - named because he was a tiny thing, less than three pounds at birth - was born 3/21/2018. Born to a first-freshener doe with a half-formed (deceased of course) doeling stuck between the uterine horns and gumming up the works. The vet pulled this kid next, laid him on the ground, assuming he was dead. This little goat gasped. The vet went "Whoa!" and I hollered, "Give him back!"
Rooney was a bottle baby from Day 1 and lived in the house for quite a bit. He was happy to curl up on the couch with his people or paw and pull at the pile of laundry until he made an acceptable bed. Rooney, also known as Pooney or Poone, eventually went to live with the herd. It always tickled me that the doelings all loved him - he was usually found sleeping surrounded by all his "girlfriends." Rooney liked to be loved on by his people , occasionally go for a ride in the mule or pop back into the house for an animal cookie. He was always up for taking a selfie with me, hamming it up for the camera.
I lost Rooney-Pooney on 3/14/20. I believe his illness was caused by a plant toxicity. Until that week, Rooney was perfectly healthy, always in good condition and bright-eyed, with a non-existent parasite burden.
This one is going to hurt a long time. Love you, Poone.
Hefty Goat Holler Farm Rosemary
April 29, 2019 - June 19, 2021 F1 Grade Miniature LaMancha
Rosemary was the most promising first freshener mini doe with my herd name. Never as friendly as her littermate sister Verbena, Rosemary eventually decided people were okay. She was a wonderful dam already, delivering triplets on a bitterly cold night in the winter storm this past February. I brought her and her new kids into the the house, in the laundry room, and she never missed a beat. She cared for her kids exceptionally well! Her udder was lovely and she was as calm as could be the first time I milked her. Rosemary was put down after to succumbing to some sort of neurological issue and declining very quickly. I will miss her calm presence and pretty war paint face in the herd.
Rusty Lane Farm Aubrey
Aubrey was my first Kinder doe, the last doe for sale when a breeder sold out. I purchased her with her doeling, Farrah. Aubrey was the first Kinder doe I'd ever seen in person. She eagerly jumped into the carrier, thinking she was going to a show. She was a very laid-back, quiet doe. Her udder wasn't very well-attached but she always milked like a champ and kidded very easily.
Aubrey kidded twice while she lived her, each time with a doeling and buckling set of twins. Her last kids were only 6 weeks old when Aubrey came down with listeriosis in February 2019. Even with quick treatment, I could not pull her through, and Aubrey was put down - she'd just turned 7. The kids absolutely refused to take a bottle or nurse another doe, but they grew alright. They are now over a year old and you can't tell they were weaned so young. Her buckling lives at a friend's farm, and I retained her last doeling. Her last daughter, Vixen, is nearly identical to Aubrey...it is a nice kind of tribute to my first Kinder doe.
Tom Thumb and Bombur
Tom Thumb and Bombur were purchased from a local hobby-breeder, after his goats had escaped and eaten his wife's garden one too many times. In hindsight, they were both weaned too young, but this was back before I knew much about goats. These two were part of the "original" hodge-podge herd. Bombur, blue collar and on the left, was a laid-back, sweet little guy with a hilariously gruff voice.
Tom Thumb was my little buddy, always squeezing out of the old fences and leading me to the barn every morning. He loved to come in and visit, wiggling his tail like a happy puppy. When my dad pulled up, Tom Thumb bee-lined for the truck , eagerly awaiting num-nums - peppermints.
They were sweet, friendly little guys.