Posted 07-07-2003 at 11:27:48
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My wife and I intend to raise dairy goats to produce milk on our farm. A local dairy goat farmer is mentoring us. We will be raising Nubian goats. We live in the biggest diary region of upstate New York, and one of the biggest dairy regions in the country. Of course all that dairy is cows, we are trying to establish a goat dairy co-op with other goat farmers in the area. Of course it will be at least 2 years before we have any production at all.
Our mentor wanted us to start small, and we picked out 3 of her Nubian kids when they were born. We brought them home at about 8 weeks, but we had been visiting them on their first farm, and we were already very attached to them. They are all registered Nubians from great milking lines, but goats are great fun, so, of course, they will be beloved pets as well as farm animals.
Everything was going great for our babies (Thelma, Louise and Bonnie) first few days on our farm. Last Wednesday, I had to work late in the field on my day job (a rarity for me), and my wife couldn't reach me all day. Luckily she was home from her job that day. My wife, Karen, noticed that Thelma was panting and having trouble breathing. Karen called our vets, and rushed Thelma to their animal hospital at over 80 miles per hour. When she got there, the vets put poor little Thelma on oxygen and rushed her into an examining room.
At first, it looked like it was aspiration pneumonia, and they thought she had a chance. The three vets at the hospital were going to take turns working on Thelma all night. They told my wife to go home, and they'd keep in touch. But things went downhill quickly for our little baby, and later in the evening they called, and told Karen that Thelma wouldn't make it. Since I couldn't be reached, Karen and the vets had to make the sad decision to put Thelma down. Later a post mortum revealed that Thelma somehow had gotten a timothy grass head down her trachea where it lodged at the point where the trachea splits into both lungs. It choked her.
We were devastated. We still are. Baby goats are one of the cutest and most affectionate baby animals. This farmer removes the kids from the mothers at birth, and they're hand raised. resulting in them being even more people oriented. Thelma was the cutest of the cute, with her big white ears, and big white star on her head. And she had the craziest voice. The other kids bleat, and it's cute. Thelma had a scream, like a vampire on a grade B horror film. But the scream was full of joy that she used to express hapiness!!! She screamed when she saw us, when she played with her sisters, and when she got a treat. I can't believe we'll never hear that little scream again.
Bonnie and Louise are doing fine now. They went through a few days, when they kept crying for and looking for their sisters. But now they're browsing nicely, and drinking water from their water bucket. They love to play with each other and with us. They're favorite place is in our laps, and they love to be carried around. When they're happy (which is most of the time) they dance little dances of joy. And they're so smart, as all goats are. At only 8 weeks old, they each know their names, and they both come when called.
Next year we'll buy many more kids from our friend. We're learning the business, and learning how to milk the goats and raise them. In 2 years we'll slowly start producing goat milk, and hopefully find our niche in the market. And with luck, we'll be able to quit our jobs, and farm full time. We already have a little egg business. We provide eggs to 2 health food stores so far, and have many private customers.
But, no matter what happens, we'll never forget our little Thelma. I'll always hear her little voice, whenever I think of her, which is very often.