Saturday, June 8, 2013

Easy Ain't In Our Vocabulary

There's always been one thing that's true:  if it's going to be done here, it's going to be the hardest way possible, and there will be many, many problems.  Easy ain't in our vocabulary.  Maybe the universe is laughing--I'm not.  Maybe it's trying to teach me something new--but I'm good, I think I can learn less for a while, thankyouverymuch.  Maybe it thinks I can handle it--possibly it could think that I would like a break?

Point here is that Minerva gave birth.  You all know this.  They are sweet little potato buds, and I think one was already on the computer, sneaky little monkey, but they're doing fine.  Minerva......not so much.  After having the babies, her udder just got gigantic.  But hard.  So, so hard.  Inside was fibrous, even muscular, in feel.  Being a noob, I had no idea what that was about.  Maybe that was normal?  I've milked a goat once in my life--kinda-- what did I know?  So I looked into it, and nope, that's not normal.  She should have a nice firm udder when full, but hey look at that, it's supposed to feel empty when she's been milked.  Neither one of those is true for Minerva.  Hard and fibrous on the inside when I start, almost no milk comes out, and it's hard and fibrous when I'm done. 
We is completely adorable!
So I researched.  I've become a hell of a researcher, let me tell you, and found out that my old friend, CAE, which Minerva is positive for, can cause a hard udder.  And those with it will may never give much milk, and of course, there's the whole "just put them down" argument to follow.  Ignoring the "just put them down" argument, I found that I could find out very little about what a CAE udder actually feels like.  Anyone who experienced it said it felt like "stone" or "wood" or "concrete".  She doesn't feel like that.  She feels like fibrous muscle.  Are they the same?  Is one woman's "stone" another woman's "fibrous muscle"?  It's all relative.

I finally broke down and emailed Teresa over at Eden Hills.  She found out she has CAE in her herd last year, so I thought I could talk to her.  She was wonderful and emailed me right back and said, yes, CAE can cause the hard udder, but Minerva should still have a good amount of nice milk and we can drink it, and it can be ok.  So ok, I thought, I knew part of that, so that might be it.  If that is the case, I guess I'll wait and see how much milk Minerva can produce even with her hard udder.

Peoples, I said we is ADORABLE!  And evilbad.  he he he
Ah, but see, that would have been easy.  While all this was going on, and I thought I had at least figured out the problem, a day or two went by and Minerva's udder still produced a single cup of milk per milking, and joy of joys--she started to cry all the time.  Minerva, the goat who doesn't talk (unless she's displeased with the accommodations, mind you, but even then it takes a lot to get her going), started to YELL.  Constantly.  And at times, very loudly.

You know how it is when you have a new baby, and the baby cries all the time and you get totally stressed out because you just don't know what it wants, and nothing you do helps, and it won't stop crying?  Welcome to my world, baby.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  It was obvious that she was distressed.  I did not know why.  I took her temperature.  Nothing.  I increased her feed, maybe she was hungry.  Nah, but she didn't mind most of the time.  Other times she said "no thank you" and didn't want it.  The only time she stopped crying was when I was near.  Or on the milking stand.  When I milked, she didn't cry.  I'd get her requisite cup, and she was ok during the time.  Then I put her off the stand, and she'd start yelling again.

Help!  Goat overboard!
I was at the end of my rope.  I was down to three possibilities; mastitis (the tests all said no), edema (which I thought would be my best choice), or CAE.  And still the crying.  And still the cup of milk.  Asked another person I know, who after telling me how horrible it all was sounding and how end of the world-y it was (ever met a person like that?  They are not the ones to talk to when you're already really worried) and suggesting I call this person and that person and see if anyone can help me at all (but, you know, probably not), I said screw it and brought her to the vet.

And guess what?  It can be one of three things:  CAE, mastitis, or edema.  Ok, that I knew.  But, she broke it down for me, and I understand better what my options are, and that's a life saver right there.  Plus, she gave me meds I didn't have.  BONUS!

Here's the deal.  If it's CAE, there's nothing I can do.  She will always have a hard udder and may never give more than a cup of milk.  Did the vet say "let her go"?  Yep, she did.  But I said "Not an option", so she said that her suggestion would be either continue milking her or don't, but eventually dry her up and don't breed her again.  If all she will give is a cup, and I'm after the milk and not the babies, that would be the course of action for us.  Luckily, Minerva is one of the two goats we own who understands cart horse commands-and will actually obey them.  Lilly is the other.  If this is the case for her, Minerva will be the cart goat I was wanting.  She will be the pack goat.  Minerva is very, very smart.  She can handle it without a problem.  She will earn her keep in another way--not the way I'd like, but it's something.
I did take the babies away from Minerva.  She was so unhappy and their presence seemed to make the situation worse, so they've been separated.  She noticed a little, but she's not as upset as I would have thought.
The other two possibilities are the ones I'm hoping it is.  I know, that's horrible.  I hope it's mastitis or edema.  What kind of monster am I?  But those two things are treatable, and would mean that once cleared up, she should be a normal and hopefully excellent milker.  In case it's mastitis, the vet took a culture to be sent off for a mega test that beats my little at home test, and Minerva's being treated with a  mega dose of penicillin every day to help fight it.  If mastitis is confirmed, there will be more antibiotics to follow.  If mastitis is not the case, it could be edema.  And so the vet gave me Banamine, which I did not have, and is an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.  Little miracle in a bottle.  There's a course of that to be given as well.  If it's edema, it will make the swelling go down.
Strike a pose!  This one is a hambone.
So here's the ending so far.  Minerva was dosed at the vet with the penicillin and the Banamine and then she stopped crying somewhat.  This morning she is a little gripey, but she's not yelling at me.  And when I put her on the stand---miracle of miracles--her udder felt slightly less hard.  As in to say, the fibrous mass was a little less.  I still got a cup of milk.  Woot.  But I feel that finally we're on the right road.

I don't know what's wrong with Minerva just yet, but I am thrilled she's stopped yelling at the top of her lungs all the time.  I hate to have an animal suffer, and it just put my stress levels through the roof.  As to the plan of what to do with her and what her job will be, I don't know until I know what's going on.  Right now I'm just collecting her little cup of milk and freezing it.  Goat milk soap will abound from her milk.  And I'm crossing my fingers that Lilly doesn't go through any of this.  What are the positives for this?  Well, Minerva did make some pretty flippin' cute babies, you will all learn more about CAE from me than you (or I) ever wanted to know, and I love to milk.  Love love love.  It is relaxing and wonderful in a way I can't describe.  I'm totally addicted.  Fear managed! 

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  1. Ugh...aren't goats great teachers? My favorite girl, Ruby-Roo had a heavy load of worms: cocci, tape, and she had lice...the vet gave me the whole if we can't clear this up, you will have to cull her spiel....I hate the word CULL, hate it, and hate that I can't make folks understand that once I take a critter on they are mine forever, until death do us part, even if they are wormy or whatever....I'm always so relieved to hear you say essentially the same things.

  2. Okay, based on the first photo, I thought this was going to be a post of how Minerva kidded in the middle of a road (sorry, I've been away from the computer for a while). Illnesses ARE stressful - no matter human or goat! And even though we have all this wonderful internet resource at our fingertips, I still call the vet after 2 days or so without guilt. And I also agree with Jen BK up there...when we take on an animal, it's forever.

  3. Wow...I'm sorry to hear about all this! Crazy! I'm glad there is hope, though! Especially since those kids are just the cutest little things!!! Keep your head up!


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