Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Who needs Six Flags?

Posted on | January 23, 2011 | 15 Comments

Apparently people pay a lot of money for ups and downs.  I mean, a lot of money.  Like $25 a ticket to ride the roller coaster again and again.  And again.

I can imagine what that roller coaster feels like.  I can almost hear the click-clack-clicking of the coaster inching up the track when one of my goats doesn’t eat her breakfast.  In agriculture we call this “going off feed.”  Which loosely translates into “Uh-oh.”

I can feel the fear and dread of being at the precipice, anticipating the fall as I check the color of her gums (worms?), examine her tail for signs of loose stool (rumen trouble?), and give her a quick rub down (injury?).  The coaster crests and then…and then…

Whoosh!  My stomach flips during that first long drop when I find her leaning to the left side and circling in confusion at dinner time.  The bottom falls out of my world and thoughts of basket ball practice, bathroom repairs, and what’s-for-dinner are swept away by the adrenalin flood of the descent.

Before I can catch my breath, the plummet ends and I begin a frantic rush down the tracks.  I call the vet, quiz other farmers, and scan the Web in a desperate search for a diagnosis at 60 mph.  I cling to my seat through the twists and turns—listeriosis?  anemia?  goat polio?

The loop-de-loop appears and for a moment I am upside, undecided, unable to move forward.  But, at last, gravity reasserts itself, a diagnosis is reached, and a course of action is chosen.

Only it’s too late.  Night falls and I plunge into the darkness, entering the pitch black of the ride’s tunnel.  I close my eyes and hold on–helpless, heart pounding, hoping for a sliver of light, longing for daybreak.

I burst into sunlight.  Is it over?  Not even close.  I rush to the barn and discover my goat on her side, tummy bloated, neck arched, and legs extended stiffly.  The click-clack-clicking begins again as the roller coaster climbs and her life ticks away.  I inject drugs, give oral drenches, and pound homeopathic meds.  I kneel by her side, begging her to hold on.  I brace myself for the steep drop-off to death.

Imagine my surprise when the coaster reaches the top of the tracks and it is not a devastating dive, but a series of rugged bumps that lies ahead.  Up and down, up and down.  A climb as she shows signs of recovery and sits up.  A slide as her head wobbles uncontrollably and she stares vacantly into the distance.  A rise–she stands and walks!  A drop–she has to be hand fed and can’t seem to find the hay roll.  Another ascent when I spot her foraging with the herd in the woods and she wags her tail in acknowledgment as I approach.

Can it be?  Is the ride over?  The coaster slows as I round the final curve and see friends waving gaily from the platform.  Yes!  It is finished!  She is gonna make it!  I take a deep breath and disembark with shaky legs.

So I can imagine what the roller coaster feels like.  I just cannot imagine why in the hell you would get on one.  And go on it again?  Are you freaking kidding me??!!!

How ’bout you come over here and pay me $25 to ride my roller coaster?  Someone or something is bound to be sick, injured, or lost again next month.  Enjoy.  And don’t forget your puke bag.

Dedicated to Josie, who took us on a ride filled with panic, fear, despair, hope, and jubilation.  All in 24 hours.  She’s thinking of opening her own amusement park.  I told her House of Horrors would be a better description.  She said, “You’re such a baby for a farmer, don’t you think?”


15 Responses to “Who needs Six Flags?”

  1. Diane
    January 23rd, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    What was it? You have to tell!! Goat polio?

  2. Tanya
    January 24th, 2011 @ 5:38 am

    Funny how you can turn tragedy into comedy..

  3. Tina Thornton
    January 24th, 2011 @ 6:26 am

    So glad to hear she is doing better!!!
    We Love You Josie!!
    The Thorntons

  4. Erin
    January 24th, 2011 @ 6:30 am

    What an apt description of the day-to-day of farming. You are truly gifted with prose. Thanks for sharing your “ride”.

  5. admin
    January 24th, 2011 @ 6:41 am

    Yes! For those of you with goats, it WAS goat polio also known as PEM or thyamine deficiency. It was resolved by high doses of fortified Vitamin B (thyamine). There are pretty much 2 diseases which will cause neurological problems in goats–listeriosis and PEM. So the vets recommend giving heavy antibiotics (we used Procaine and aureomycin since we didn’t have any amoxicillin) to hit the listeriosis and fortified Vitamin B to hit the PEM. Josie was on death’s door but was sitting up 2 hours after her first dose of meds. So that tells us it was PEM b/c antibiotics just can’t work that fast. I didn’t know any of this before Josie got sick, but I’ll be ready in case it ever happens again. Thanks, Josie!

  6. L. Treat
    January 24th, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    Oh…uhhgg!! I don’t like roller coasters either. I don’t have goats but my jersey cow can give the same effect…calving this spring should be quite a ride. OOOOHHHH…..Here we go!!!!

  7. va_grown
    January 24th, 2011 @ 8:35 am

    Whew–glad it came out alright. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you’re in the middle of it, but it does feel good to come out ok and know that you’re better armed for the next time.

  8. Erika Robbins
    January 24th, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    Oh fun. Glad yours turned out better than my experience with a horse colicking! Isn’t farm life so much fun?

  9. Annabelle
    January 24th, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    isn’t it amazing what these critters teach us?
    you’re writing is an inspiration as always, thank you!

  10. Roxane
    January 24th, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

    I am sooooo glad she made it. HOORAY for for her and you! How lucky she is to have such a dedicated owner. Hugs to you both!
    And, I love the writing, you’re very gifted.

  11. Monica
    January 24th, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

    You could make good money as a writer – I loved this post (and can really relate to the ride!). Glad the doe made it – good goat momma!

  12. Cheryl
    January 24th, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

    Love, love, love your writings. You had me going up and down with you and I don’t like roller coasters.

    Let me know when you write your first book.

  13. Diane
    January 25th, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    I have had the same goat come down with it 2 times. Once just 2 weeks ago! The symptoms sounded similar. I now have on hand 3 bottles of fortified B vitamin prepared for the next time!! B complex just required too many shots to get the thiamine needed. And did you know that fortified B is VERY hard to find? Manufacturers aren’t producing it, must the the goverment new regulation! AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH Both times it was induced by none other than ME! First time overdosed with Corid, second time I changed her feed to quickly. Amazing creatures those little cuties are. If you catch it in time it is easy to reverse, my girl had head shaking like she had the shivers. Uh oh start the thiamine quick is what I thought! Love your blog!!

  14. Adri
    March 28th, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    Brilliant post! Glad your ride ended so well this time.

  15. Loose Ends. : Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk
    January 23rd, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    […] a Vitamin B shot for good luck.  Josie got a Vitamin B shot, too, since I never want to go through this polioencephalomalacia scare […]

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