Summary: We saved one of our kid goats from certain death.
Body: In February of this year (2021 for those reading in other years), we had a very bad freeze that lasted for about a week. Arctic air made its way all the down here to Texas. I mean, bad bad. On February 16 the low temperature was near zero degrees fahrenheit. On this particular night, Mama goat (that’s her name) decided she would kid. However, she forgot to hit the send button on her cell phone to let us know. It was late in the evening, well into the darkness of that dark, dark night.
I just happened to be outside on the porch for a few minutes when I heard a bit of commotion up at the barn. I suited up in warm clothes, slipped the boots on, grabbed my headlamp and headed up the barn to see what the goats were up to.
Oh boy, I was not prepared for what I saw. Tragedy two times over, and a third seemingly imminent. Mama had kidded, and two of her offspring were frozen stiff. Ice had formed on the third that was barely hanging on to life. It appeared to me that she may’ve even had frost bite, on her nose and maybe on her tender hooves. I was devastated, but without any hesitation, scooped up the near frozen kid, holding her as close, and rushed back to the house as fast as I could.
Upon entering the house, I hollered out to my wife Marilyn, something to the effect of, ‘Honey, I need your help!’ I had my hands full with a baby goat and needed my hands free to get to work on trying to save her. I was hesitant to put her one the floor of the kitchen for fear that our dogs might find her just a little too interesting, if you know what I mean. I needed my wife’s help, and I needed it fast. Time was of essence.
She got me a towel, and together we wrapped her up in it, and I passed her to Marilyn. It’s not the first time we’ve lost a kid to the cold. No, many years ago we lost one despite my best efforts to save her. But putting her in a warming blanket just didn’t work. But this time I had a different idea. I’d seen on mounting climbing documentaries how the doctors at the various camps up and down the mountain would soak frostbit extremities of climbers in warm water. Ah, this is what I would try for this baby kid and hope it works.
So while Marilyn was tending to the frozen little thing, I prepared a warm bath in the kitchen sink. Having done so, I gently held the kid in my hands, being careful to keep her head out of the water, and let her thaw out. I was convinced that even if she survived, she would have some kind of lasting effects from what I thought was frost bite. I kept her in that warm bath, warming the water up frequently, while my wife and I still frantically tried to sort out what our next move would be. Very slowly I could see life returning to the kid. It was encouraging, though I knew it meant little in terms of her living through this ordeal. Would she eat, did she have life threatening damage to her insides, how badly would the freeze affect her? We just didn’t know, but knew we had to do everything we could do to try to save her.
As she slowly came back to life, she showed an interest in suckling, as kid goats do very soon after birth. This half frozen kid was trying to suckle on my pinky. Marilyn hesitantly gave me a small glass of milk so that I could at least give the kid a taste of milk, hoping it would encourage her to continue fighting for her life. She stayed in that warm bath for almost an hour, until it seemed she was better, and her body heat seemed to be restored to where I thought it should be. We removed her from the bath and dried her off.
The next crisis was to get some colostrum in the kid as fast as we could. It’s critical for a kid’s immune system to get colostrum within a short period of time after kidding. Without this colostrum the kid will almost certainly die at a young age due to the weak immune system all kids are born with. I knew we were well past that recommend time of first consumption, but knew what I had to do. The only place we could get colostrum at that time was from Mama goat. Milking her in the barn when temperatures where near zero just didn’t seem practical to me. So, I brought Mama goat to the house, and put her in the laundry room. Ugh, you have no idea what complications that added to the equation, but in this moment, we could deal with those later. Mama goat wouldn’t have anything to do with kid goat. Totally rejected her. This is no surprise as I’m sure the warm bath washed all her scent off. We tried to force Moma goat to let her nurse, but kid goat wasn’t interested in that, either. She was so drained from being nearly frozen to death, that she had little energy to even try.
Time for plan B. I knew we would have to milk Mama goat so we could bottle feed kid goat. Thank heaven I wasn’t trying to do that in near zero degree temperatures. But I was able to get enough colostrum to try to feed kid goat, and that’s just what I did. Kid goats don’t like to feed from bottles. They’ll get the hang of if eventually, then it’s easy breezy, but that takes time. So, we were basically having to force her to eat. This highlights another major problem with saving a kid goat; making sure they get enough nourishment. When they don’t want to eat, it can be a challenge, and there’s always concern that hurdle may be insurmountable. But we did the best we could. Once we had done all we could for baby goat she went to sleep. We made sure she was all bundled up with care and placed her on our bed.
Back to Mama goat. When we first brought Mama goat to the laundry room, we had little time to prepare. Marilyn had thrown a few puppy pads and an old comforter on the floor to help catch anything and everything that might hit the floor. But this was just a temporary solution to get us through the critical time that baby goat needed. Now we had to try and figure out what we were going to do with Mama goat. We mulled over our options that included putting her back up in the barn, or leaving her in the back yard. But because of the extreme cold we decided the best thing to do was to keep her in the laundry room for the first 24 hours because we would need to milk her for her colostrum to feed baby goat. This created a huge dilemma figuring out how to turn our laundry room into a temporary barn stall without permanent damage.
My wife is good at coming up with solutions for problems like this. I suppose it’s from her practice being a mother. We had plenty of puppy pads on hand so we used those to put layers and layers of puppy pads on the floor. I mean lots of layers. On top of that we put the old comforter. Naturally, we had to make special trips to the store to buy more puppy pads. I also bought a cheap comforter so that we could rotate them out while one was being washed and dried. Boy, we had no idea that goats pooped and peed so much, but for the two days that she was in the laundry room, not a drop of poop or pee made it to the floor. It was a small miracle, but a lot of work changing everything out often.
Back to baby goat: she was so small, and frail. But she slept peacefully on our bed. Marilyn lay next to her ensuring she wasn’t alone. When she woke, we fed her again and made a place for her to sleep the master bathroom not far from our bed. As the hours went by it really was like having a new born baby. She would wake every few hours wanting to be fed, though she was still having trouble with the nipple/bottle. But we managed to feed her and back to sleep she would go. Her other bodily functions were working well (number 1 and number 2), so that was reassuring.
Hours turned into days. My heart didn’t start to rest easy until day 2. I figured if she made it to day 2 then she’s got a good chance of pulling through. And she made it to day 2. But she still wasn’t standing up as a normal baby goat would. Marilyn very lovingly and carefully encouraged her to walk. Marilyn would gently hold her and stand her up, teaching her how to stand up. At some point baby goat began trying on her own and she did stand up, on her wobbly legs, only for her legs to slide out and down she’d go. It really was like having a child that was learning to walk. We took pictures and video of it. It was kinda cute. After a few more days baby goat was walking around, even if it wasn’t steady.
When we weren’t with her, we didn’t want her to be all alone. The Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away” inspired us to get her a little ball and Popsicle took to it pretty well, playing with and even using it to support her some as she continued her walking practice.
Well, we needed to come up with a name for her. My first thought was Winter and we called her that for a very brief time until Marilyn’s sister suggested Popsicle. Ah ha! That’s the perfect name for her. So, that’s the story of how we saved Popsicle. Marilyn would post regular updates including pictures and videos on Facebook and Popsicle was famous among our circle of Facebook fans.
Popsicle is still popular as folks come out to see her. She’s adorable. Though she hangs with the other goats, she is very much a daddy’s girl. Given the choice she’s right by my side, following me everywhere. She’s very loved by all.
There’s so much more to the Popsicle story; how she graduated from the master bathroom, to the small back yard, how we bought a wether to keep her company, how she graduated to the bigger front yard, how she graduated to the pasture with the other goats. And each of those phases have so many stories within them.
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much love and peace,
“Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa
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An excerpt from the blog The Effects of Sexual Abuse Never Go Away” – “ A child is likely to be left with strong feelings of anger, fear, shame, hurt and disappointment”. That’s some of the reasons why 45 years later I’ve never told my story. Yes, it’s hidden and yes it affects me to … Continue reading Anonymous
Thank you for posting…Sharing intimate details is scary. Thank you for being so brave and for reaching out to others through this blog. I know much of your heart in this blog. Your openness and honesty is quiet beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
‘You make the reality of what you and other victims have suffered so very clear, but we all need to know that it happened. People want to help, we want to speak up and reassure, but sometimes, we just don’t know how. We are learning, hopefully. God bless you and your journey to complete peace.’