Knife Edge

Owwwwww – BLAST!

A big bubble of garnet-bright blood erupts from the newly-created crater in my thumb.  My mind was distracted whilst cutting the tight strings of baler twine embracing the sweet-smelling hay bale; & a moment’s lapse in concentration has led to a stitch in my thumb’s time potentially requiring several more, to close sorry slit in said digit.   What an eejit.

My usual daily business whilst still battling with my ‘seedy’ eye infection & downright rotten cold, owing (in all probability) to my recent stripping-to-save lamb activities, has taken much longer than normal; I’ve been far slower in mind, wind & limb as a result.  To add to my woes some of the new Milkforce recruits are proving less than amenable & I’ve lost count of the blue-black, tender budding bruises being formed as the grumpy gals either kick me, barge me over in simulated panic; or just drag me across the pen by their collars for the sheer Helluva it – all because I’ve surreptitioustly “furtled” to check their ‘bagging up’ udders.  Oops, whatta-meestake-a-to-make-a……..yupp.

Add to that being whalloped by an angry ewe whilst returning her Houdini lamb to the family fold as well as braving life & limb to extricate said lambs from their enraged mother to bolster their meagre milk intake owing to Alchemilla’s still-empty udders; & you’ll gather it’s been a pretty rough day. 

Then I managed to intercept our Site Engineer, Peter, whilst he was filling in miscellaneous gaps on the Dairy Complex site – but from my limited understanding of Tony’s design, they weren’t the right gaps!  So I had to apologise; & see if the desperately-needed work can be left to another imminent day when we’ve determined just want is required; ohhhh dear, it feels sometimes as if this rocky little boat is starting to sink to the bottom of the deepest ocean.

But it was about to get yet more turbulent, regardless of the still-obstinate, occasionally buffeting winds…..

I’d noted that Apricot had started muttering at me, mid-afternoon; & her conversation increased with every visit to her maternity pen although apart from being a little picky with her breakfast, there were no other obvious signs.  But by Early Evening Chores there were definitely signs of activity: discharge from her vulva & – most infuriatingly – like Froggie & Aloe, she props herself up like a dog in the ‘sit’ position, bends down & suckles herself; especially (bless ‘er) when she’s in distress.  And tonight, the stress levels were increasing with alarming rapidity.

Having fed, watered, bedded, milked & settled every other goat, sheep, pony, horse, hen, goose, duck, cat & dog; I paused for a welcome breather with a cup of tea & the evening edition of ‘The Archers’, before tackling Apricot’s seemingly-leisurely pregnancy predicament. 

However the moment ‘The Archers’ theme tune jauntily jangled the airwaves, Apricot simultaneously burst into her own cacophanic song: giving birth is clearly the noisiest & most attention-seeking activity in which a pregnant goat can enthusiastically participate.  And by goodness, she was vociferously anxious to join the illustrious ranks of the noisiest & loudest, that fateful evening…..

Twenty long minutes after she started to push, her kid popped out….& guess what, it was Yet Another Boy, whom (in Tony’s absence, down-route in Sierra Leone) I named Brychan.  It looked as though that was her only kid, so I carried out the usual activities, & waited awhile; & had just bundled up the milk bottle, umbilical spray, torch & my now cold mug of tea, when she started groaning again. 

Only a few moments later a tiny kid flopped out: with eyes, startlingly wide & little body completely still & sickeningly lifeless.  I literally vaulted the hurdle back into the pen & gathered up the kid, wiping away the slippery membrane of afterbirth which was suffocating the tiny thing’s mouth & nose.  She wasn’t breathing; wasn’t moving; so with some vigorous rubbing, attempts to empty the lungs of fluid & hasty resuscitation I grimly tried to save the fragile little life.

And there was the tiniest sneeze; & shake of the head. 

She was alive!

Mum Apricot, however, was not at all interested in the latest arrival & kept licking her big, robust son clean – so big, in fact, it was almost as if he’d bullied his sister & had stolen all the best nutrients from her whilst they were growing together.  I did everything I could to persuade the dam to take an interest but she wouldn’t; so I worked as hard as I could to dry the kid & keep her warm.  But she was so weak, she couldn’t even lift her head; was gasping for every breath, which seemed to be getting increasingly shallow.  And she certainly wouldn’t take any of that vital colostrum…..

Drastic measures were called for; so on taking advice from our kindly friend & encyclopaedic caprine mentor Dreda, I wrapped the little creature in my shirt & bundled her into the house to warm up, tenderly placing her tiny, shivering body on a vet bed in front of the cheery fire in our bedroom.  And at least I discovered on absconding with her, that little Bechan’s lungs worked – as she yelled at the top of her voice, all the way back to the house. 

But on putting her on the vet bed it was clear just how bad things were: the poor little thing was very, very weak, indeed.  As instructed I left her tucked up, warm & snug, to have a sleep for a little while; then, having finished off outside & taken extra colostrum from the dam I gently tried to feed her.  Thankfully I managed to persuade her to take a little of the life-giving milk; but whether it would be enough, only time would tell. 

And so begins a long, lonely, agonising vigil……but to be honest while I don’t hold out much hope I’ll fight tooth & nail to keep her alive, if needs be; I’ll do anything it takes.  The painful wound to my hand & my exhausted, under-the-weather state brushed aside, I shall stay up night & day to save this poor, precious, tiny little scrap of a kid, if needs be…….please, wish her luck. 


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Dairy, Diary, Food, Goats, Life, Livestock, March 2008, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Knife Edge

  1. elizabethm says:

    How did she get on? and thank you for visiting my blog. You are obviously doing things on a much bigger scale here!

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hi Liz –

    watch this space….I’ll be posting up what happened to the poor little scrap that night as soon as I can; but am rushed off my feet at the mo so haven’t been able to do much Blogging, alas.

    Your Blog really cheered me up. It’s so well written & thoroughly enjoyable – I’ll certainly be a regular visitor & if you don’t mind, would like to put a link from my Blog to yours so others can also share in your wonderful words!

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