Friday, November 04, 2011
Shock at Apifera
Slideshow to accompany this post>
The day began normally. There was not a clue I'd be digging two graves in twenty four hours.
Honey Boy had breakfast as usual, as did Granny. There was nothing to indicate something was wrong. When I returned to the barnyard for dinner feedings, Granny was lying in a spot she usually isn't in, away from the barn and her mates. She had vomited a lot and was in discomfort. I gave her probiotic and she seemed to settle. But then I saw Honey Boy, lying down too. He looked ill, but wasn't in distress. He did not want dinner - highly unusual. I got him up to walk him around and could see he was foaming a bit, his rumen looked flat and normal. Granny's rumen was extended, a sign of trouble. No changes in diet had been made so I wondered if poison of some kind was causing it. We keep no pesticides on the farm, all animals are locked away from danger in the old barn. No hay twine around the critters.
I waited it out an hour, and as Granny settled more, and quit foaming, Honey Boy became more restless. I did my best for him, checked in with a vet - it was now way past closing hours- and mainly helped him to stay calm. By midnight he seemed like he might be okay, and he had calmed greatly from my massages. Then I did something I regret- I told him, "Don't die on me," and I went to bed. I knew in my heart he might be dying. I was cold and tired and Martyn came and got me to come in.
I always tell the old ones, "It's okay if you have to go now, go on, I'll be right here though." I know he holds no grudge- that's a human behavior. And it wouldn't have changed the outcome.
But he was gone when we went to the barn in the early morning. I laid him in state so the barnyard could see him while Martyn dug his grave in the pumpkin patch. The sound of his body being put in the dirt, I can hear that, it has a distinctive sound when you put a body in the ground. And then it's really quiet.
Granny seemed better, but I had the vet come out to check things over, and discuss what happened and what might have caused it. By afternoon when the vet arrived, Granny had weakened and worsened. We decided to tube her for treatment to attempt to get the rumen back on track. But soon after, she showed signs of neurological damage and we felt it was only right to euthanize her. I had planned to give her more treatments and shots through the night, but the vet and I knew it would be a night of suffering, and now it was clear she couldn't fight it off.
What caused it? We don't have a definitive answer. Everyone else is healthy. There are no pesticides here, no moldy hay or feed, ample clean water, no poisonous trees or shrubs. The vet spent an hour just walking around with me and he couldn't determine it. He knows our layout well and he said it's 'one of the safest barns he goes too'. The only thing we considered possible was a solution of crystals I had used a week before in the stall next door to the goats, a solution I dipped my sheep's feet in to help prevent foot rot. We wondered if the sprinkles stuck to sheep feet and were tracked into the goat stall somehow. But it seems so unlikely, and I couldn't find anything online about it being harmful to animals - in solid form.
So I am quite raw and sad. It was very sudden. It was a hard day. Wilbur wouldn't even talk to me all day and he would not go to see Granny's body. Wilbur and Granny had separated when she took ill and he did not return to her side through out her sickness, or even when she died. I know he knew she was dying. My father's beloved dog left his death bed days before he died, as if their silent good byes had been made.
This morning there was beautiful thick fog- like a blanket of Honey Boy hair to cover us in comfort. I took time to be in my barnyard, with all the life around me. The first one at the gate is usually Honey Boy - but not this morning. It was my charming little Acrobatic Goat, aka Wilbur. He was back to speaking to me and I spent a lot of time with him today.
They were here a short time, like so many of the older ones, but they are now part of Apifera.