Wednesday, 31 March 2010

An Exodus of Animals

We had nine goats. I loved all the frisky baby animals. But it wasn't to last.

Bint and her noisy mother Charity were sold to friends who were told of her strident qualities. They're both happy and Bint has been renamed Africa. A definate step in a less perjorative direction. We've visited them both since.

Next went Puggles, who, unlike most male domestic animals is not going to be eaten and has kept his wobbly bits, and was recently seen trying to use them on the female members of his new herd. Lucky boy. I also heard he gets off on electric fences and stands on it making obvious little frissons of delight as it pulses through him.

Then we had Chalk and Cheese, my favourite little fellows. I'm not sure I even recounted their birth story, which involved their John Travolta like entry into the world (one leg completely folded back, the other out front). Cheese had a folded ear, and was runty in comparison to his brother Chalk. But he has an adorable nature and loves nothing more than a cuddle. I didn't think I'd be able to get them a home which didn't involve a large roasting pan and a carving knife. We advertised. I'd already told Trev, they can be wethered, but not tethered. Sure enough, phone call number one wanted to tether them. Trev sighs and tells them, 'Linda won't sell to you if you're tethering, sorry'. We think the end of the story, next day we get a call to say, 'no worries, we're going to keep them as pets in a mobile cattle yard'.

Daisy, was a terrible mother. She just left them all the time, she never had a clue where they were, they huddled under the goat palace on their own at night. I'm so glad they had each other for company. She fed them, but tossed them around when she'd had enough and socialised with the other animals instead. Trev called her the kind of mum who went out late at night, left her babies at home on their own, and wailed loud and long when the house burnt down and her children died. Well, he was right. They came and took Chalk and Cheese, and she wailed for days, searching high and low and calling out. I fed her tidbits and molasses water as I had for poor Bella too. It's a horrible part of rearing goats that you just can't keep all the kids.

By this time we're down to 4 animals. Bella, Daisy (who we are milking) and Brie and Hazel, the six month plus twins who are our future milkers. Brie died. She was healthy at breakfast, and then dead. Lying beside a fence, no marks on her. No sign of illness. She was a healthy, happy animal. Poor Hazel, (who had a voice like a ten pack a day smoker) spent days calling out for her. Caleb and Trev buried her in the orchard, where Trev, overcome with emotion quickly planned to grow asparagus over her body (practical sort is our Trev).

Two weeks later Hazel was found dead. Almost the same spot, exactly the same symptoms, happy, healthy, hearty appetite... hours later, dead. We've never had a goat die. This was horrendous and really upsetting for everyone. This time I wasn't at work and helped in the grave digging, burial duty. We buried her, and then thought about looking for a snake bite. Which is the only conclusion we can come to. Bella and Daisy continue to be happy, healthy and hearty a month later.

I miss my rowdy herd.


Jan Morrison said...

Yep, they come and go and you write about it with the right degree of compassion and detachment I think. I always wanted goats - well I have my chooks and I might wear down the fella yet. He has become the number one chook man so you never know.

It ain't so (most of the time) said...

Goats have a habit of dropping of the perch unfortuntaly - reasons unknown. I've had several just drop liek that and only one show any signs of illness and by the time we got her to the vet, it was too late, apparently goats won't tell you there is a problem and by the time they do it's too late :(
I used to have one goat - she'd hear my car and start calling "mmmmmuuuuummmm' in the most demanding voice. If it wasn;t my car, she'd still call and call and call and in the end the neighbours came to investigate why my children were crying!
False alarm!
Goats are true individuals - enjoy them and love them - because they are like furry children!

Baby registry said...

That was so sad. Here I think I could see more of them in the future. They sound like wonderful animals.