Wednesday I started my day off one of the best ways a person can…on a farm. As if this is not great enough, there was the added bonus of baby animals. Within minutes of walking onto Jeremiah Farm and Goat Dairy I was on the ground cuddling newborn goats. The youngest one was two days old, all legs and curiosity. Its little hooves were so soft and tiny it melted my heart. Yet unlike his sisters, this little guy is not a hot commodity (being a male on a dairy farm) which means he is destined to either end up as a pet or sadly, on someone’s dinner plate. It is easy to see people fall in love and adopt this four legged critters when they are sucking on your fingers and staring at you with their trusting square eyes.
For many people, the temptation to adopt baby farm animals is very great, regardless of their experience or housing. I have heard countless stories of people taking in baby chickens, ducks, goats, horses, pigs, etc. only to learn hard lessons in the care, knowledge, and budget it takes to care for these unique creatures. There was even a goat living on Folly beach inside (yep.) someones house. Beyond the need for space, specialized food, medication, and companionship, the often overlooked aspect is the lack of veterinary care available for farm animals. Unlike a dog or a cat owner, those with farm animals often must take matters into their own hands. Medical advice is exchanged online, from owner to owner, and at the local farm supply stores. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way with Billy the Goat, who did not survive long enough for me to even understand the problem that led to his demise.
Even after such a traumatic experience, I found myself wearing rose colored glasses and before i knew it I was wondering if I could sneak a baby goat into downtown without causing a stir. As fate would have it, I actually ended my day with my old adult goat friends and was brought back to reality. I try to stop by and see them at least once a month if not every two weeks to make sure they are doing okay. Bob and Peanut are still hanging in there and now they are kept company by their younger sister Peaches and their two new pony pen-mates.
During my routine corral check, deworming, and hoof trimming, I noticed that Bob was spending a lot of time on the ground. As a three-legged goat, this isn’t incredibly odd behavior, but he usually runs to the gate to greet me. When I gave him a once over, nothing was obviously wrong beside a small scratch above his tail. Yet if you are going to own a goat, you also always have to check the back-end to make sure they are no blockages or worms (not so cute now, huh?). That is when I discovered a deep wound hidden under the base of his tail that was oozing with infection. It took both Joseph and I to hold him down so I could clean it up enough to inspect it (while gagging) as Bob screamed the most heartbreaking sound of fear and discomfort. We called our go-to goat people with no avail and since the stores were closed, I headed over to Kipp’s house to see if he had any advice or medication. Thankfully he was home and after a long discussion, I left with antibiotics, a tutorial on giving an antibiotic shot to a goat, and syringes. I headed back to the goat pen and illuminated by my headlights, I gave Bob his medication.
For the last two days, I have spend my evenings after work collecting supplies (including pro-biotics, wound cleaning spray, gauze, etc.) and administering drugs to my patient. It appears as though the wound is getting better but as mentioned, I am no expert and it is extremely hard to examine him. Having lost one goat in a matter of days, the last thing I want to do is miss something obvious that could stop his slide downhill. Even as I write this, I am thinking of things I should do, like check his temperature, the color of his gums, and the whites of his eyes.
My hope in sharing this experience is to give people a reality check before falling victim to the temptation to adopt cute baby animals and instead support the family farms that spend their lives caring for these animals by going to visit them.
I personally know of a few goats (and their respective farmers) that would love to have you stop by for a visit.