The staff at QuiltWoman.com have varied interests. Debbie, one of our talented graphics designer who puts together the patterns we sell, is a real animal lover. When this account of how she spent yesterday evening appeared in our in-boxes, how could we not post it? It has nothing to do with quilting and everything to do with goats. If you need a good chuckle, read on…..
So I’ve just come inside from a scintillating evening spent burping my goats. Yes, goats DO burp, and it’s a good thing too, or else they would apparently explode like balloon with a pin stuck into it. Anyway, I went out earlier with Amanda, my young daughter, to feed the barn, and noticed when the goats came in that they were wider than usual. Much, much wider. As in, it looked like Lavender (big goat) had swallowed a beach ball, and Hazel and Charcoal each had a basketball apiece. Since they had looked like their normal selves yesterday, I was a bit alarmed; so after Amanda and I came inside and Amanda stopped talking (I sent her to take a shower for some peace and quiet) I did what any old-time goat herder would do; I went online and looked up ‘goat bloat’. Lots of pictures, all of which looked quite a bit like my guys, along with a plethora of dire warnings about bloat left untreated and some grisly bits about exploding abdomens. So I figured I probably should do something…
SO, armed with my barn boots, a flashlight, a previously landfill-bound water bottle now full of oil, and my dog Aspen, I headed BACK to the barn. By this time Amanda was out of the shower and talking again, a full moon had risen, and it was pitch black outside. Hence the flashlight. The water bottle of vegetable oil was highly recommended on many websites as a ‘bloat remedy’, and as for Aspen; well, as I mentioned before – pitch black, full moon, chupacabras in the woods, etc. So off I went.
The remedy for goats involved ‘drenching’ – or in my case, trying to pour – a quarter cup of vegetable oil down their throats, standing them on their hind legs, and massaging their sides; at which point, according to the websites, the goats would begin to ‘burp and fart’, and then you’d know they would recover from the bloat. I got a bit hung up at the very first part though, as it turns out that goats do not really like having vegetable oil poured down their throats. Nor do they wish to lap it out of a cupped hand, which I admit I tried in a moment of foolish optimism. I was able to get about a cup and a half on the stall floor and soaked into my jacket, respectively, and eventually about a teaspoonful into each little goat. Lavender, the big semi-neutered male goat, was a different story. In the end I sort of threw it in the general direction of his mouth and hoped some little droplets found their way inside (although I think the majority ended up in his left eye, as he kept squinting at me suspiciously after that.)
That done, the next step was to ‘firmly massage’ the goat’s sides. Again, not something wildly enjoyed by your average goat. The little ones still seemed like a good place to start, since I could prop their little front legs up on my knee and rub their sides, but I hadn’t counted on Hazel going all ‘rubber legged’ and sliding to the floor every time I started to squeeze. I had to keep stopping and hauling her back up to her hind feet, propping her front end up, and starting over. To my amazement though, it worked; in seconds I could hear deep, subterranean goat burps rumbling up her little throat. Success! After I figured I’d squeezed her enough – and she had slowed down to a few seconds between burps – I went after Charcoal. He didn’t slide to the ground; in fact, he tried to climb up on top of my head to get away from me, but since I wasn’t really enjoying the goat massage either I wasn’t sure I blamed him. But after a few minutes he too started belching. LOUDLY. Which seemed to really alarm Lavender, who hadn’t yet been squeezed, as he kept trying to break through the back wall of his stall to get out.
When I went for Lavender I realized I may have made a mistake in starting with the little goats first. Having just watched me squeezing the daylights out of his two companions, he was in no mood to let me anywhere near him. The closest I came to squeezing him was when I managed, once or twice, to pin him momentarily against a wall and lean on him, in the hopes that would have the same effect; but I’m not entirely sure it was successful. In the end, after chasing him in circles around the 8 foot by 8 foot stall for what seemed like an eternity, he began lowering his head at me, not a good sign coming from an angry adult semi-neutered male goat with two large, hard, pointy horns curling gracefully out of his skull. However somewhere in the melee he had begun to start burping on his own, so I hoped for the best and beat a cowardly retreat through the stall gate.
So there you go, that was my evening of fun on the farm. I’ll find out in the morning if I was successful in treating their bloat; if not, apparently I will have a huge job ahead of me cleaning goat intestines out of the barn rafters. But, I’ll hope for the best. In the meantime, I’m just grateful I didn’t have to experience ‘goat farts’!
Update – The morning after
The goats are fine this morning, so all is well that ends well. I think they all probably got into something they shouldn’t have out in the pasture (possibly milkweed). I have to go out and comb the pasture when I get home tonight; right now they’re locked in their stall…