Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Tina.

Posted on | June 27, 2012 | 25 Comments

Some times things happen for a reason.  Some times someone can cross your path at just the right time.  Some times we are given a sudden and unexpected opportunity to save each other.  And we take it.

When Tina came into our lives, we were at a breaking point.  We had recently lost a lot of animals to illness and disease.  Our confidence was shaken.  Our hearts ached.  We dreaded heading out to the barn for the morning chores, living in fear that someone else would be ailing.  We said, as all farmers have said at one time or another in their farming lives, that we would not replace the animals we had lost.  We would rather downsize and do without than go through the pain of more loss.  In retrospect, taking in a crippled goat kid at that time seems like an incomprehensible decision.

Tina’s front legs were severely bent and the cause was uncertain.  A birth defect? White muscle disease?  A serious case of contracted tendons?  The usual treatments had already been tried without effect.  All that was left was a last ditch attempt to splint the limbs and hope for the best.  And since we did not have the skills or the materials for splinting, hope really was what we were relying on.  We had never splinted an animal on our farm.  I had to repeatedly refer to anatomical drawings of a goat leg just to understand what bones and muscles and tendons I was dealing with.  And although this site was very helpful, Tina’s twisted legs looked very different and the muscles and tendons were hard to examine when covered with fur.

But she dragged her legs onto our farm with a resolute spirit and a gentle heart.  She tolerated our ministrations with a simple faith.  She settled in with the goats and sheep, pony and pig, chickens and ducks, guardian dog and barn cat, as if she had been waiting for these friends for all of her short little life.  And she slowly and surely and despite setbacks, began to heal.

The last time we took off her splints, she still seemed weak in the pasterns and tended to bend there a bit during all her movements.  But her legs were straight and she seemed fully capable of supporting all her weight without weakness.  Her knees no longer bowed out.  She walked tenderly, carefully, but she did walk.  Wherever she wanted to go.  I was hesitant to put on more splints because I wanted her muscles to strengthen and knew they never would if they always had splints to assist them.  I was hesitant to leave the splints off for fear that her pasterns would weaken, her legs would bow, and she would go back to bad form.  I was stymied.

So I did what all farmers do.  I called another farmer and had her come over and look.  Tina’s previous owner arrived early one morning and examined Tina’s new legs.  She palpated the muscles and tendons.  She watched Tina walk around the barn and climb on pallets and held Tina on her lap.  She said that, to her, the legs looked great and just needed to get stronger.  She didn’t find the leg deformity or the bend at the pasterns alarming.  With an ear scratch and a kiss on Tina’s head she resolved our consternation.  Leave her be.  Let her walk without the splints and see what happens.

Isn’t it funny how the opinion of a good friend can clarify a confusing issue with a swift and sure stroke?  Sometimes we just to need hear someone tell us that we’re doing fine in order to believe it.  And sometimes when someone says, “I think it will be OK,”, it really will be.

Because Tina is definitely OK.

She climbs onto the picnic table to spend the day lounging in the sun.

She gets onto the milk stand and assumes the position that she sees all the other ladies take–gobbling grain as fast as she can.

She climbs on the hay bale, even though it is not allowed.

She hikes to the top of the root ball of the big downed tree in the woods.

She runs up to the barn so quickly at dinner time that she is just a blur.

She browses down low.

She browses up high.

She stands easily on the sloped side of the dam.

She can jump so high that she jumps right out of the the camera frame.

In essence, she does everything that all the other goats do.  And you would never know that she started out like this:

Oh, there are still some things about her that are different.

The metacarpus bones in her front legs are turned to the side so her phalanges face out instead of forward.  The turn appears to take place at the carpus or knee area.

I don’t know why.  If I had to guess I’d say it was caused by incompetent splinting.  Although there’s some possibility that the way her legs bowed out caused the bones to twist.  Whatever the cause, it doesn’t affect her movements at all.

She is also the oldest baby to get a bottle on our farm.

Goat kids are allowed to nurse for as long as they live here with their dams.  But bottle babies that come from other farms are weaned by 6 weeks old.  Bottle feeding is good for bonding with new animals.  But warming and carrying bottles back and forth to the barn gets old fast.  Plus, it cuts down on the milk for our family.  Tina, however, still gets a bottle twice a day at almost 5 months old.  We feel like the extra calcium and protein is beneficial as long as her bones and muscles are still growing.

And although Tina hangs out with the goat herd, she is also very close to the sheep.

She and the lambs were raised together in the kidding barn when they were smaller.  So you can often find them curled up asleep together.  Or wandering together in the blackberry brambles.  Or rubbing noses and faces in greeting.  If I had to anthropomorphize, I’d say she thinks they are her brothers.

But what is most unique about Tina is the way she sits in your lap.  Whenever you sit down, she comes over, throws her front legs in your lap and rests her head against your chest.  She does it if you sit at the picnic table.

She does it if you sit on the well cap.

She does it when you sit at the milk stand.

She does it even if someone else is already in your lap.

I suppose she does it for attention.  Or maybe she spent so long with us holding her, her legs across our laps to put on splints, or adjust splints, or take off splints, that she thinks it is expected.

But I have to say that what it really seems like….what it really feels like….is not a plea for attention or a habit born of endless splinting.  It really seems like….a goat hug.

Maybe we will be sorry if she continues to do this when she is a full grown 120lb Toggenburg doe.  Maybe not.  Maybe her hugs will always remind us of the time when taking in Tina restored the balance to our farm.  When her success was what we needed to recover from all that failure.  When, while we were in the process of saving her, she saved us.  Good job, Tina.

Comments

25 Responses to “Tina.”

  1. Tanya
    June 27th, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    love it

  2. Carolynn
    June 27th, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    How incredibly awesome is that?!? I want a goat hug. From Tina.

  3. Terry Golson
    June 27th, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    This was exactly the post I needed today, having had to euthanize a hen yesterday, and then spending all day today writing about death and suffering and responsibility. Because, the truth is that the caretaking also leads to having relationships with animals like Tina. Thanks for her story!

  4. lin
    June 27th, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    I stopped at the first sentence–I didn’t want to read that you had to put her down. Not today. Not any day. I love that darn Tina and her wonky legs and as much as you wanted her to succeed–so did I, tenfold.

    So, I scanned the rest of the post, waiting….waiting for the sad part that, thankfully, wasn’t to come.

    I dropped a little tear for your happy story today. And I called my 17-year old daughter over to show her how wonderful Tina is doing. And she and I ooohed and ahhhhed over the photos of her doing goat things like all the other goats.

    HOORAY! Thank you for saving Tina. Thank you for making my day in telling me that she is okay. I needed that. You needed that. I think we all need a happy ending every now and then.

    :) Hooray, Tina! We ALL love you!

  5. melanie
    June 27th, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    Freakin’ awesome! You (and Tina) made my day…

  6. ashley moedl
    June 27th, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    I’m so happy to hear about Tina. I was wondering about her. Its funny how animals always seem to come into our lives when we need them the most. Even if we don’t know it ourselves. Thank you for shareing her story with us.

  7. Kathy L
    June 27th, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    awesome story and she is so pretty. Thanks for sharing this. *smiles*

  8. Jill
    June 28th, 2012 @ 6:22 am

    I could use a goat hug right now! Congratulations for the victory!!! You and Tina are wonderful!!

  9. Sandy
    June 28th, 2012 @ 6:25 am

    What a great post. I think it speaks to what all farmers need….hope and faith! Thanks.

  10. Liz
    June 28th, 2012 @ 7:06 am

    I cannot tell you how great it is to read about you and your farm. Many times the stories are just what I need. Many tears of joy and laughter are shed, and then I just thank God there are people who dont give up on animals because they are special and love the rest of us enough to share it all. Thank you for all you do, and mostly for sharing your life with all of us. Such good news :)

  11. Adri Fair
    June 28th, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    Tina (well, your whole family) is an inspiration. Whoever said that dogs were man`s best friend didn`t have a goat.

  12. Kelsie
    June 28th, 2012 @ 8:21 am

    awww this made me cry…Tina is so lucky you took the time to fix her legs when so many would have…not…I love those goat hugs…My boots does exactly the same, he too was a bottle baby…and very jealous of anyone else getting my attention.

    Tina is gorgeous, enjoyed seeing all those great photos of her on the go.

    Blessings Kelsie

  13. Val
    June 28th, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    lovely. love, Val

  14. Lisa D
    June 30th, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    What a great success for all of you! Congrats!

  15. Tanya K.
    July 1st, 2012 @ 12:02 am

    Thank you for this beautiful story of mended hearts and legs! Way to go guys, you did it!!!!

  16. Chai Chai
    July 1st, 2012 @ 5:49 am

    I was afraid to read this post for several days in case it was full of bad news, I loved your first Tina post that much!

    I’m so happy to see she has done so well. I bet some publications would be interested in this story.

  17. P Flooers
    July 1st, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    I read this with my heart in my throat and brushing tears off my cheeks. Wow, you did SUCH a great job with her! Thank you.

  18. Kim
    July 2nd, 2012 @ 7:36 am

    Wow, she looks great! We all need a TIna to rescue us sometimes, looks like she gives back what you gave her – love and the belief that you can succeed. Well done the Taylors xx

  19. Teresa
    July 15th, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

    What a wonderful story! Tina is one lucky goat. Not everyone would have done what you have done! But look at how it turned out! I don’t know who benefitted more your family or Tina!

  20. Denise
    July 15th, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    I LOVE this story and the pure joy she has in her little happy goat life. Bravo to you for taking the time with her when she needed it.

  21. Gary D
    August 4th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    I am so happy that your outcome with Tina was a success. I know exactly how difficult it was to raise her, all of the work and the worry. And how heartwarming it is to have accomplished the impossible. Even if a person never believed in God, they would have to know He exists after a miracle such as this. May Tina bring you many years of happiness.

  22. andrea
    April 18th, 2013 @ 6:06 am

    I love this story, though my results may end up different this gives me hope that something can be done for this girl i’m picking up.

  23. The Calm Before The Storm. : Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk
    December 11th, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

    [...] Probably everyone who reads this blog is familiar with Tina. [...]

  24. Therese
    April 29th, 2016 @ 11:01 am

    I found your website in the search for what to do for our doeling who has a very similar leg issue. She is now 4 1/2 weeks old and we have been splinting her legs (she was 1 of quads). She had severely retracted tendons at birth, We finally got her legs to basically go straight, but now they are bending inwards and a bit twisted inward just like your photo. I’m curious. How long did you work on splinting? We splint down to the bottom 1/4″ so that she has to walk on her little hooves to hopefully help strengthen the muscle. I’m just not sure how we keep at it.

    Thank you for your response if you have a chance.

  25. admin
    April 29th, 2016 @ 11:42 am

    Hi! I don’t remember exactly when we took off the splints but I feel like it was 4 or 5 months. I posted on June 27th 2012 that the splints were off and you can see what her legs looked like then. We just kept making them bigger PVC pipes and then just rulers or pieces of wood as her legs grew and straightened. We left her hoof out, too. She kind of had loose legs like a puppet when we were done but she managed fine. However, when we bred her the next year, the extra weight from her pregnancy really stressed her legs and threw her off balance and she didn’t look comfortable at all. She delivered fine and gave a lot of milk but one of her kids was down on his ankles for the first day or so which made me think there was a genetic issue so we made the decision never to breed her again and she went to a pet home. Good luck with your kid. Hopefully she’ll get her legs straight enough to get around without pain or difficulty.

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