On the Farm: a Tale of Sorrow and Hope

Reader Contribution by Sherry Leverich Tucker
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Confrontation with life and death situations are unavoidable when living on a farm. Seeing baby animals come into the world is beautiful, but sometimes these beautiful moments can be full of anxiety if things aren’t going just right.

Earlier this spring before kidding time one of Caleb’s does (female goat) got sick. All of his Nigerian does were bred to a Nigerian buck and would be having babies. Fluffy is an older doe and was getting very large with babies. She showed signs of recurring diarrhea, signaling something going on internally. Whether it was parasitic or bacterial we weren’t sure, but we treated her for several conditions. Her body was weakened from the chronic diarrhea and she reached a state where she couldn’t stand up by herself. As long as we went out several times a day to lift her up, she could walk and graze all right. She started eating better and seemed to be getting healthier, though she was putting everything she had into the still growing babies. While recovering from this illness she went into labor and bore 3 babies. The babies died. She probably didn’t have them fast enough and with her inability to get up, wasn’t able to clean them fast enough. I was there to help with the last one, but a combination of bad weather, poor timing and my inexperience with goat birth made this a situation of loss. Fluffy is doing much better now and has really gained her strength and weight. It was a hard time for her and we were very sad about the loss of her babies.

We have a wonderful neighbor down the road. Barbara has been raising dairy goats and milking Jersey cows for years and is a wealth of information on all animal care issues. Her helpful advice is what saved Fluffy’s life, even though the babies didn’t make it.

Barbara had a story to share with me a few days ago. She had a bred Shih Tzu momma dog that was expecting puppies within a few days. That day she was instantly killed when a car hit her in front of Barbara’s home. When Barbara found her dead dog she could see the puppies still moving about inside her. Reacting quickly, she grabbed the nearest knife she could place her hands on and cut her open. She got those babies out alive and saved those puppies. Three live puppies all because of her quick response. Those puppies are now thriving on goat’s milk with Barbara as their rescuer and momma!

Precious life. It is hard to know when a moment like this will occur, when life and death swing in the balance. Whether in triumph or loss there are lessons to learn and wisdom to gain. Sometimes we also learn what causes death and what retains life.We learn how to diagnose and be quick when necessary. We also have to learn to accept that even the right decisions or thoughtful intentions don’t always work.

All of Caleb’s four other does have bright eyed, healthy kids. We appreciate that and are thankful for healthy does as well.