I have sad news. Jim Bob died last night. I took this photo two days ago. Of all the goats I never would have guessed he’d go now. He is ten, which is old but not ancient. He was in excellent condition and showed no sign of anemia or parasite issues. Two days ago I found him trembling in the morning. He ate and drank. I checked his eyes and they were healthy and temp normal. I gave him probiotics and a pain shot. He was up and about and normal for the next two days.
Yesterday I noticed after breakfast he separated from his herd and went to sleep on his own. I took note of that. Jim Bob has always been a bit of a boss in the herd so this was not normal. Last night he was lying down and seemed distant. But there was no sign of dehydration or pain. I knew he wasn’t himself. I did sit with him for some time and talked to him and rubbed his ears. He is not a touchy-feely guy so the fact he seemed to respond to it also gave me pause.
I’m glad I took that time with him. This morning…that feeling…first thing I did was look into the stall and he was dead, lying in the same spot, no signs of a struggle. He was quite stiff so I’m sure he died not long after I said goodnight. I covered his head and he’s lying in state until Martyn gets home. His stall mates were eager for breakfast and to get in the sun-they know long before a death something has shifted…and they move on after acknowledging it in their own way. I don’t know what happened but I’m grateful he had such perfect weather to sun in.
Jim Bob arrived with Roscoe in 2009. He was healthy and robust and stayed that way right until the end. I've been doing this since 2004 and each situation allows for me to learn. This situation I don't feel I will learn anything that might help in future incidences. Was it dehydration I wondered last night, but his eyes weren't really that recessed, they did look a bit dull. But he'd been drinking. One can google things and be left with more questions than answers. The only way would be to do an autopsy, and I've done one at the old farm on a young sheep who died-she had a shard in her lower tract. But there was no sign of that here, nor of poison, nor of anything I've experienced. And it was so fast. I think with many animals, once you see them outwardly ill you've sometimes lost them. So knowing signs of various things is important. I'm not beating myself up on this one. There was no reason to call a vet two days ago since he rebounded immediately, and even if she had come out and taken blood work, he would have died before results. Dehydration is serious though and maybe she would have seen something I didn't but I saw no signs of it.
I've had deaths here that the vet just says, 'It could have been this, or this, probably not that..." and of course, it could have been cancer I suppose.
The main thing, he did not appear to suffer. If he did, he held it inward very well-no teeth grinding, pacing, up and down-none of that. So in my experience, Jim Bob had a good death, with his mates around him, before fly season, and had the warmth of a perfect Maine day for his final hours. We should all be so blessed I guess.