Tragedy on the Homestead

#Homestead Tragedy

I was sick all last week with a wicked cold. Greg got sick a few days before me so it kind of feels this cold has been with us far too long.

To make things worse, two of our does delivered early. Our experienced mom, Pan, delivery FOUR babies. It’s rare but it happens. Not surprisingly with big litters, one of the fetuses went into automatic abortion, pulling the other three babies out early.

My friends, it was awful! The aborted fetus was perfect but still in its amniotic membrane. The other three were alive and trying to get up, but I realized right away that something wasn’t right. These poor kids were 12 days early and their chances for survival weren’t good.

I warmed them up and got them on their wobbly legs, exercising their muscles and constantly switching from one kid to the next so everyone got his fair share of attention. I made sure each of them received some colostrum from their mother. Within hours the first kid died. She tried so hard, but there wasn’t enough in her to keep going.

The second one, also a girl, died two days later. She was the runt of the litter but she had a lot of chutzpah. I think if she hadn’t been so little she might’ve made it. For two days straight, I made sure they nursed every two hours and even supplemented by bottle feeding.

On the third day, only the little buckling was left. He was the biggest–and lazy, as boys are wont to be, but I continued with his physical therapy, working his leg muscles and keeping him warm.

On the fourth day, he started to stand on his own and walked. He was wobbly, but he was walking.

I thought we had been through the worst when Ruby, our red Boer, went into labor. This was when I was at my sickest. Greg was busy so it was all on me. I knew she was having trouble from the start. I tried to explain that to Greg but I don’t think he understood how serious it was.

Finally, I made the decision to intervene and try to get that baby out.

I couldn’t find the head. I went into her uterus as far as I dared. I felt his lips but I couldn’t reach the rest of his head. Both front legs and head should come out at the same time during delivery.

Try as I might, I could not pull the baby out. We either had to shoot her or take her to the vet. I explained the situation to Greg again, as this was now a money question. Greg opted for the vet.

The vet too, couldn’t get that baby out. I don’t want to speak ill of this vet, but I kind of feel he should’ve just given up and let us shoot her. We caused her way more misery than was necessary.

In the end, he got the baby out. Despite being in the birth canal for so long, the kid was born alive, but he was so weak.Ā  He lived only a few minutes. Worse than that, pulling that baby out tore the doe’s intestines. The vet quickly put her down.

It was bad enough losing Ruby and the baby, but I feel horrible about causing undue pain. Some would argue it was a calculated risk letting the vet continue, but they weren’t looking at poor Ruby’s face. She didn’t deserve to suffer like that.

We’ve never had this sort of tragedy. The vet reminded us that it was a numbers game. Eventually we were going to lose. It just decided to happen all at once.

We still have three more does waiting to drop, which should happen today and tomorrow, their official due dates. Fingers crossed that everything else goes well.

We seem to be followed by a black cloud ever since Iko’s death and I for one have had enough tragedy. I hate to be so down on a Monday post, but I wanted to explain why I was absent last week.

RIP, Ruby.

What’s going on in your world? I hope the Fates have been kinder to you.

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  1. I am so sorry, Take a E-hug from across the net from me.. when folks get excited about having 3 or 4, I sigh and shake my head, give me a solid healthy twins any day, its always high risk but when those numbers go up. so do the issues.. 12 days as you know is neonatal and I know you did everything right..

    As for your doe.. o my gosh. what a heartbreak, I had to put down own doe at the end of expecting, I know that pain, I know that they look and see you and they do NOT understand.. I have shed those tears! It’s just brutal. I am so sorry for your girl, for you and while it is not as important in the heart, I am also sorry that you had the “vet bill” hit coming after all that effort and still have the losses.

    I hope you get a chance to recover a bit before the new babies come and I do understand, my hubby works with me, he helps me but he can’t “read” things in the barn, with the critters or birthing or newborns in the same way as I can.

    I have a lamb that appears to have really pulled a tendon hard during birthing to the point it is doing a sideways pull on his jaw/face but I am working on it and it appears to be helping and I am on baby watch as well.. otherwise there have been a couple bumps but overall, keep on keeping on..


    • Val: I knew you’d understand. Greg thinks I’m some sort of wizard because I can sense when things are wrong (or right) but like you, I know how to read the signs. I know these animals. I know what’s normal for them and what’s not.

      re: lamb
      We had a buckling born blind. He was huge and had been in the birth canal too long pressing on his spinal column. For five days I helped him nurse, massaging his spine, and dosed him with Vitamin A and Selenium gel. He regained his sight and grew up to be magnificent.

      I know you’ll do all you can. Keep working his little mouth muscle. He could recover.

      We’re on baby watch too. We’re hoping for nice, healthy babies, kept to a minimum. šŸ™‚

    • Linda: Thanks, Linda. All prayers gratefully accepted.

      Pan is better. At least she still has her buckling who is cute as a button. He’s all red with a white patch on his head. If she had lost all of them I know she would’ve suffered, but at least she has one to mother.

      I’ve been giving her alfalfa which is a treat for goats. They normally get the weedy hay. I milk her a little too since the little guy can’t drink all she has in her udder. It relieves the pressure.

  2. Oh no, I’m so sorry, Maria. This is very sad news and I can’t imagine how hard it has been on you. For several months things just haven’t been going well on your homestead. I hope that srping brings better luck for you and Greg. Thinking of all of you.


    My heart aches for you, Maria. The love you have for your animals is inspiring. I know you did everything you could. Big hugs from me to you šŸ™

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