Goatlady and her Goats ~ BabyGirl’s Story

“The Goatlady Way”

Most Precious Gift
A Diary of

Since the Holidays are upon us soon.. I wanted to take
this opportunity to tell the heart warming story of a miracle gift. A gift
money cannot buy and yet the heart will never forget…BabyGirl..Born January 22, 1998 in Rimrock Arizona. First born of a set of cashgora
twin girls, daughter of a rather large angora/cashmere mom…She was born on
the fly so to speak.. mom was walking away from another goat at the time..
and dropped her in the process.. Checking her out carefully I saw nothing
wrong with her in spite of her rude arrival into this world of ours.

BabyGirl on Mom’s back 1 month old

She was standing in no time and nursing along side
her sister – things seemed fine. This was the year of 40+ babies being born
in a 3 week period, and because of this I wasn’t able to give as much
attention to each child as I would have liked.. maybe I would have noticed
sooner.At about 2 weeks old I did notice she was not as active as her sister, I
checked her out again and things seemed normal so I didn’t worry about it.
Then I would hear little cries from the goat yard.. pitiful little soft
cries. Out the door to see and of course – nothing. I finally saw it.. the
baby wouldn’t lay her head over her body when she lay down.. or rather
Couldn’t and would cry each time she tried. I stood in the kitchen and
watched. She was fine until she tried to relax her head and then she would
lift it up and cry… Out the door to check her again. This time I noticed
she held her head at a tilt, like a dog does with an ear infection… So, I
checked her ears..nothing I could see.. cleaned them out and set her down..
she still held her head slightly tilted.Armed with Penicillin and a syringe, she learned what “Just a little
poke” meant. She Hated me for it.. and for the days following she learned to
hate me even more.The ‘ear’ never got better, I did however notice a small lump forming on
her neck- not quite under the chin but to the side …Goiter? I never dealt
with a goatie goiter so I looked up all the information I could and went
back to catch her- Yes by this time she no longer came up to me in the goat
yard.. she did not forget those shots. I felt it, I pushed on it.. I tried
to ‘see’ with my eyes closed what it could be. No, not a goiter, about the
size of a marble and rather hard, it didn’t move and well.. it felt almost
like another head that never formed. I had heard of deformities of sheep
with two heads and I wondered if she wasn’t a victim yet the head just never
did form completely…yes this must be what it is. I kept an eye on it and
her actions in the next months.. It grew with her but not out of proportion
and she was less active than any of the other babies but not in pain or
hindered except for laying with her head over her side she did everything
the others did just a little slower and maybe not as coordinated. By a year
and a half old had a characteristic tilt about her looks, really kinda
cute.She would run from me the minute I came into the goat yard even
after so many attempts to just sit and hold her lovingly.. she Hated me and
her sister, once my good bud, distrusted me and would not step any closer
than she had to.. they were holding a grudge in a big way.. Mom still would
come to see me but she too had a look of “what have you done to my baby” in
her eyes. By now her tilt was affecting her walking abilities and she would
fall at times..(You try walking with your head tilted at a 45* angle) gets
dizzying. Preparing for the move from AZ to MO I knew she would have to have
special care, so when we loaded the goats into the livestock truck, a
special compartment was made for a very few more delicate of the herd.. She
made the trip with her mom and sister watching over her. Arriving in MO 4
days later (That’s another story) everyone made the trip with flying colors
and no ill effects were seen in the following weeks…UNTIL…. She started
to fall occasionally in the goat yard.Only a foot between the yard and my front porch I was close to watch,
trying to see if she was getting knocked or if the new ground being a little
uneven was hindering her stride.. I couldn’t figure it.. Almost like she
would just lose control of her legs and fall.. I also noticed her rumen
didn’t seem right.. she was thick around the middle and no real definition
of a left-side rumen. The lump on her neck by this age was about the size of
a ping-pong ball and her head had a bit more of a tilt. I went to her and
tried to help her up.. she wanted to run from me but couldn’t.. After
standing her back up she would seem fine for a bit then Oops.. down again.
She would go limp and fall so hard you could hear her head hit the ground..
I started looking for a vet.In this small town of only 2900 people there is but one vet, so I stopped
in one day and told the gal I had a goat I needed to bring in for Xrays to
find out what in the world was wrong with her neck.. My appointment was for
the following day. Arriving on time, me with BabyGirl in my arms as by this
time she could no longer walk at all- or stand for that matter..She had been
down now for a few weeks and it was up to me to make sure I stood her up
many times a day to release gas from her rumen and try to give her legs some
strength again.. being a small goat of maybe 40 pounds. it really wasn’t a
problem to carry her in. We went into the exam room and the vet came in
refused to even ‘touch’ her..(he literally would not lay a hand on her)
after just 3 minutes told me she had a broken neck. I told him it had been
this way from birth and is getting worse.. told him I would like to have
X-rays taken. Again he said that her neck was broken and X-rays would do no
good.. I would have to put her down..

Well now.. this just wasn’t an option at this point and even though she
had been “down” for a few weeks, I really wanted to know what I had been
dealing with all this time. nope.. wouldn’t do an X-ray.. “just was waste of
good money”, he said. Needless to say, I left there furious with BabyGirl in
my arms! Started to call around the nearby towns in hopes of finding a vet
who would take me seriously and do an X-ray on her so I at least knew what I
was dealing with.. I found one 40 miles away who on the phone claimed not to
know much about goats.. (so what else is new?).. I explained the whole story
and asked if he could do an Xray, even if we couldn’t do anything to help
her?.. I HAD to know now what was in there.. He really impressed me during
our conversation, asking me questions like “How is her attitude?” and “How
do her eyes look?” He wanted to know if she was giving up or if she had a
desire to try.. I assured him her attitude was really good.. she had
developed a small amount of trust in me and her eyes looked bright and happy
in spite of the fact she could not stand up. My appointment was for 10am the
following day.

Never having been to Gainesville in the 4 short weeks I lived here in MO,
I left in plenty of time. Situated BabyGirl on my son’s girlfriend’s lap for
the ride and off we went.. not knowing what we would find out.. but at least
in hopes of getting an X-ray to ‘see’ in there. I had in the meantime found
out the vet in town I had gone to refused to do an X-ray because he had NO
X-ray machine.. now why didn’t he tell me at the time.. or better yet why
didn’t the gal at the desk who had worked for him for year tell me when I
made the appointment specifically for an X-ray?.. Well, that was behind us
now and we were off to find out things I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.. 40
minutes of praying on the way.. we arrived at the Gainesville Vet Clinic a
few minutes early. Weighed BabyGirl in at 41.5 pounds. Mind you, by now she
had a pretty full coat of fiber and being she laid down all the time her
urine was matting her hair on her back legs and on one side, she was matted
and dirty from being on the ground and not able to stand and shake. She
looked pretty pitiful actually. The gal behind the desk came around and
petted her in spite of her looks.. and her first words were..”ahhh” in
sorrow for her.. I burst into tears. Ten minutes late the new vet, Dr. Main,
came through the door with “Goat Medicine” ,(the goat vet bible), under his arm..

I was impressed!

Directly over to her to touch her neck and talk to her he started his
exam.. Asked her weight and again wanted to know the details of what I
thought happened or how this started.. did a fecal on her, asked about
selenium, and a million other questions.. He determined her neck was ‘fused’
in the position it was in and he too wanted to look inside to see what it
was.. somewhat perplexed we went to the X-ray room.
What he saw on
the X-ray was astonishing!

He came into the exam room with the X-rays and
told me “If I showed this X-ray to another vet, he would tell me this goat
was either dead or completely paralyzed”. Two of the vertebrae in her neck
were at a 45* angle to each other, and in his words: “I don’t know how the
spinal cord is going through that angle”. He was amazed to say the least…
and especially with her attitude. He tested her legs for strength and
feeling, all were capable of feeling the needle test in her feet, and all of
them had more strength than you would think.. Her tummy was hard and felt
like there may be a baby developing inside. Her rumen had lost some
elasticity and began stretching toward the right under the belly. He read,
he thought and he asked more questions… he touched her, he talked to her
and he smiled at her… exclaiming she was a pretty amazing little goat. He
took blood tests to see if there was some deficiency and he did a urine test
for possible kidney problems. Gave her a shot of lutalyse in case she was
pregnant so she would abort and wants to see her in 7 days. By then the
blood work up would be done and he wanted to check her out again.. He spent
4 hours with us that day.. for a vet who claims he didn’t know much about
goats I think he did a pretty darn good job and certainly is not stingy with
his time! Besides, he thought she was pretty cute and agreed with me that it
wasn’t her time.. her eyes were happy and bright.. the fact that he was
thinking along those terms.. from her outlook, impressed me too.

A week later and no abortion no real change but a new thought crossed Dr
Main’s mind, he had been researching all week.. Oct 1st 1999…Back
at the vet’s. Dr. Main looked at her X-rays again and was suspicious of
maybe a damaged Vagus nerve..from her neck vertebra.. causing vagal indigestion which leads to an enlarged rumen and
thinking he may have felt rumen contents that were harder than normal
instead of a fetus.. (he had done a palpation but not really hard since we
both figured she may be pregnant.. even though the X-ray showed only a mass
and not a skeleton) anyway.. he did another palpation.. outside on the
grass.. (he’s very, kind always thinking of the animal..it was easier for
her to be on the grass eating oak leaves while he worked than stressed in a
room on a table) anyway.. we lifted her up into a sit-up position a dog
would take.. and he felt around the rumen to the right side.. and he feels
her rumen has taken on the typical “L-shape” from having Vagal Indigestion..
this could also explain the odor from many of her burps. The Vagus nerve
being high up in the cranial area.. the angle of the vertebra right there
would indicate to him that pressure is being put on the nerve and causing
her to ruminate less than normal.. the rumen gets flaccid and extends shape
to an L.. going to the right side more and becomes thinner walled.. less
elasticity to bring up gas.. (very similar to hardware disease found in
cattle) in any case.. the option now is to give her prednisone to help
alleviate the swelling some and possibly reduce the pressure on the vagus
nerve.. he had her on 20mgs a day split into 2 doses.. hope this helps..
and her coordination in her legs he feels is also caused by the pressure on
her spinal cord.. something to do with the signal that tells the brain where
the limbs etc are..

I am considering making a walker for her to help to
re-strengthen her legs.. I KNOW it must be hard for her to lay on her side
day after day.. goats just aren’t made that way. but as long as she isn’t
giving up.. neither am I!

She takes her meds hidden in a Fig Newton, and gets her probiotic paste
and baking soda every day to make sure her rumen stays active, and we have
even found a way she doesn’t have to wet herself (which has been so
demeaning for her).. she hollers to let us know she is ready to go.. and we
run and get the sour cream container to put under her to catch the flow..
she stays dry and no mess.. I swear she even smiles afterwards.. Pleased she
had trained us to be quick..

BabyGirl in her own chair

Oh I forgot to mention…
she now spends much of her time in the

She loves being outside with all the other goats!

Just so she is a part of the herd

BabyGirl goat laying next to fence

Too cold outside except during the middle of the day…


BabyGirl laying with her mama

Look closely and you can see BabyGirl with her head on her mama, looking up at her lovingly

Her mama sure loves her! And she loves her mama.. This
picture is priceless!

BabyGirl with her sister Bubbles

BabyGirl with her twin sister Bubbles

And her sister loves her and watches over
Too cute!

So I carry her out to her mom and sister for a few hours every day,Prop
her up next to the fence and watch her closely that she has no problems..
falling over on her other side or getting bonked by another goat.. When mom
moves about and lays in a new place.. she hollers for me to come get her and
move her too. I am very well trained.. The leaves are falling and all the
goats are running after them.. then I turn to BabyGirl watching them too.
tears in my eyes.. I go get her some and give them to her so she can “play”
too…At times it seems as thought she is spoiled, she hollers and I just
ask what?.. and go do it.. she gets her water brought to her since she can’t
get up and drink from the water-buckets herself.. She requires almost round
the clock care, but as long as she has happy eyes and is trying to do.. I
will do anything I can to help her. Let me say now that if I thought for one
minute she was in a lot of pain and had lost her desire to live.. I would
have had her put down.. but I will do what I can until SHE is
done..and so far she isn’t..

BabyGirl was Not impressed with our attempt at a walker for her

The walker was a good idea but we couldn’t get one to work .. so I spend a
few hours during the day to massage her little legs to try to keep them
somewhat in muscle.. and because we have wood floors I have gotten a few of
those throw rugs for her to lay on, she lays in the living room to watch TV
with us and she ‘does’ watch too.. with her personal supply of hay in front
of her..

BabyGirl in living room on her personal little goat rug

The meds are slow to take effect it seems, though she is moving her
body around more-still on her left side much of the time.. she sleeps on the
floor next to my bed on her pillow, me with my arm over the side on her to
let her know I am there for her.. Once she is in position she rarely moves
much at this point..

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