Pages

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lucky Nickel

This is a bit of a disturbing post, but it tells the truth about life on the farm some days.  It's not always pretty.

This morning, my pygmy goat, Puffin, went into labor.  I hoped, as always, that things would go smoothly, as they did with Lotus and Coffee a couple of weeks ago.  Sadly, that was not to be.  I could tell fairly early on that Puffin was having trouble.  She was yelling and screaming a lot, which my other goats haven't done, and she was not making any progress.

I did an internal exam, and found feet, but the head was facing backwards, looking over the shoulder.  I grabbed my book on how to deal with incorrect birth presentations, and it said this was the hardest one to correct.  I tried, for about 15 minutes, with absolutely no success.  I called the vet and he arrived in about 30 minutes.  Puffin was standing there with the legs out, but nothing else.  Dr. Nicholson spent a long time trying to reposition the kid with Puffin in numerous different positions.  Unfortunately, the heartbeat on the kid went silent.  I knew from her size that there was likely to be another kid, so Dr. Nicholson did what had to be done in this situation.  He put a wire around the neck of the dead kid, and decapitated it.  It was the only way to get the kid out, and the only way to potentially save any other kids waiting to be delivered.  I watched this with a kind of detached horror.  I don't get squeamish, but I was none the less stunned by the reality of what had to be done.  Once the head was removed, the body and head could easily be taken out of Puffin.  They lay on the straw in her pen, and it was as if I was watching a movie, rather than participating by holding Puffin while all this took place.

I can tell you that this is one of the harshest realities I've faced on the farm so far.  Cutting the head off a baby so that the second baby and mother could be saved was a very difficult but necessary decision.  Seeing it done was simply numbing.  But there was not time to grieve then....because there was another baby.

Unfortunately, the second baby presented exactly the same way, head backwards.  Because there was additional room in the uterus though, the vet was able to reposition her head and use a pulling device to get her out.  The vet and I were really surprised to find that this second kid was alive.  She had been in distress for so long that we thought the second kid would also be dead.  I learned that Puffin has a very small pelvic opening, which makes it very difficult for her to give birth to kids in proper orientation, and also makes it difficult to reposition them.

I cannot even describe to you the sounds that poor Puffin was making during this ordeal.  I wasn't sure she would survive.  Dr. Nicholson administered some pain killers and antibiotic, and was on his way.  The little doeling tried to nurse, but Puffin was exhausted and could not stand up - she just lay trembling and panting in a corner of the pen.  I brought out the Udderly EZ hand milker and managed to get about 4 ounces of colostrum out of Puffin, which I quickly fed to the little doeling.  She took it well and was ready to explore, but Puffin would not even look at her.  She just turned her head and ignored her baby.

By this time, I'd already missed a meeting at work and my first class of the day.  I took the baby inside and spent some time feeding her a little more and trying to get her comfortable.  I kept going out to the barn to check on Puffin.  Every time, I saw her straining, pushing, as if she wasn't finished.  I finally decided I had to do another internal exam.

I determined that she had something inside her, but it didn't feel like another goat kid.  It felt kind of rope-like and lumpy.  I knew this wasn't normal, so I called the vet back again.  We discussed by phone what I was feeling, and he said it sounded like he should come back.  He did, and meanwhile, I missed my second and third classes of the day.  The vet determined that Puffin had a tear in her birth canal such that her intestines were entering into it, and she was feeling that and trying to push them out.  Dr. Nicholson had to sew her vagina closed so that she can urinate, but nothing else can come out, otherwise, she might have pushed her intestine outside of her body.

So, here I am this evening with a baby goat under my desk.  I've named her "Lucky Nickel" in honor of Dr. Nicholson, without whom she would not be alive right now.

I hope that both she, and her mother Puffin, will recover and thrive.  That said, nature reigns supreme here, and I never know what she's going to throw my way.  I'm thankful that 2 of 3 lives are still here tonight, but I grieve for a third life that was never lived.  Puffin will never be bred again - I cannot subject her to the risks, and I cannot subject any potential offspring to the potential fate of this morning's little life lost.

26 comments:

Chai Chai said...

Wow, what a story - there are no words for situations such as this. One thing I enjoy about some of the blogs that I read is the honesty and unvarnished truth that is shared. This story wasn't happy, but it was real, and a lot can be learned from this tragedy. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully Puffin and Lucky Nichel have happy long lives that continue to bring you joy.

Christy said...

What a hard day! I'm so sorry.

Melodie said...

So heartbreaking...I am so sorry.

ZZ said...

Strong healing thoughts for Puffin. I hope she can rest and heal. Dear Claire, you rest too my friend. Today was a sad day for sure. My heart is with you.

fullfreezer said...

Oh my, what a day you've had. Little Lucky Nickel is darling, it's just too bad her sibling didn't survive. I'll be sending positive thought's your direction.
Judy

Cat said...

Yes, when people talk of "life on the farm" being beautiful and happy, I think they forget about the sadness that can happen. We had a cow work and work to finally give a stillborn calf, and it saddens me to this day to think of the poor mom cow.

I feel for you, but am happy that the mom made it. And feel great joy for your little Nickel! May all of you have fairer weather in the future of life...

Cat

Gail V said...

Oh Claire, I am so sorry. I hope Puffin pulls through this alright.

Foothills Poultry said...

What had to be done to save Nickel and Puffin is something I don't know if I could deal with. That would really get to me. You are stronger then I am.

I hope that Puffin recovers and Little Lucky Nickel thrives.

~~Matt~~

Jennifer said...

What a long, tough day! I am so sorry for what all you went through and for the loss of the goat kid. I hope Puffin will make a full recovery and I am glad one of the kids survived.

SheepMama said...

These days I have seen it and it's hard to lose one of his animals. All the best for the mother and the little darling. I keep my fingers crossed that everything else goes well.

Deb said...

I'm sorry Claire - sometimes farming really bites.
I hope Puffin recovers 100% and that your adorable Lucky Nickel thrives.

We had a similar experience with one of our dogs. It never leaves you - although you know it's the right thing to do.

Kudos to you - your animals are lucky to have you.

Hope your week gets much better :)

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for you and Puffin and the wee lost one. You have done all the right things for Puffin and I hope that she will recover fully and enjoy her retirement. Nickel is a LOVELY little baby (I see Valentino was at work again). Many goat kisses from Isobelle.

Laura said...

I can't imagine how hard that had to have been to go through, I know what you mean about the mode you go into when things like that happen, it happens with people in trouble too. As a nurse I have learned to face that feeling of horror with a silent detachment, doing what needs to be done, but the impact of it on you never leaves your mind. You are right, life on a farm really teaches you about the cycle of life, the good the bad and the ugly. I think i am so much wiser and more appreciative of life because of it, I recently had a simular experience with the loss of two bucks before the third little doe was born, she is the only one who survived and I cherish her. I am not sure what happened with my doe since I was not there when the kids were born, I have mixed feelings about breeding her again. Sorry so long a reply but I so empathize with what you just went through.

Louise said...

I'm so sorry. Prayers for Puffin and little Nickel, who is just adorable. Life with any kind of animal has its tough and heart rending moments. You handled it well.

polly's path said...

Oh, Claire. My heart is in pieces for you, Puffin, and the little one who didn't make it. I am so sorry. Your story reminds me to be thankful for the times when things go right on the farm, and makes me ever more aware that it's not always romantic. I am glad you have a good vet you can call on and that he was able to save little Nickel darling. I will keep my fingers crossed that Puffin will make a full recovery, and I am sending a million good thoughts her way. And yours.

Flartus said...

How painful for both of you, especially poor Puffin. I do hope she recovers. There's not a whole lot one can say, other than I can understand the difficulty of the decisions & actions you had to take. I bet it wasn't any easier for Dr. Nicholson, so having the survivor named after him is a thoughtful gift.

Jenny said...

Sorry you had such a rough delivery to round out your kidding. The surviving baby is just darling. At least there is a bit of a happy ending saving the mom and one baby.
~Jenny~

Terri said...

Wow, Clare. That's exactly what happened to one of my yearling ewes this weekend. The lamb died in utero, and my husband had to euthanize the ewe. It was just a horrible thing. If Puffin makes it, will she be able to kid again?

Mom L said...

Claire, you've been on my mind this morning and I'm so very sorry about Puffin and the little lamb that didn't make it. I also read your Facebook post. I hope Lucky Nickel (delightful name) thrives with you. She is beautiful, like "little" Marshmallow.

Nancy

Pricilla said...

I am sorry for the poor little kid that died and for Puffin.
You are lucky to have such a wonderful vet.
Goat hugs.

colorandtexture said...

Oh, my! That all sounds sad beyond words . . .

Jennifer said...

God Bless you, Claire, & all your family members. You are doing such important work for all of us. My heart is full of joy & sorrow for you & your animals. All the prayers & good wishes that you are receiving will sustain you & help to heal Puffin. Love, from Jennifer & Marti

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

scary
and well told.......not everything is fluffy in the country is it
thanks for sharing!
john

Claire said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I am sorry to say that Puffin died today. I am just so deeply saddened, but your words and thoughts touched me and reminded me how so many of us go through similar experiences in our lives. I am comforted to read what you have written, and I thank each and every one of you for your words and the time you took to comment.

SheepMama said...

I am so sorry. Coming and going is part of the life and it is always hard to take leave. Let us recall the beautiful moments.

My Life Under the Bus said...

Oh this was my least favorite thing in school. The harshest realities were always on the farm. Bloat and dystocia were the worst : ( I am so sorry for your loss.