Lessons Learned from Baby Goats

It started out as a fairly routine Monday morning.  I had scheduled an appointment with the Veterinarian (Karl) to vaccinate some calves and preg check cows.  While he was here, I planned to have the baby goats (two of them) dehorned, a routine procedure done by burning around the base of the horn while it is still small thus stopping the growth of the horn.  When it came time to dehorn the goats all my kids were running around and wanting to know what we were doing.  We decided to sedate the goats (not essential) so the children would not see or hear them fight while we were burning their horns.  Both Karl and I thought that this would be a good idea; he sedates animals all the time, no big deal.  When we finished we took the goats and laid them in the shade of the house to rest until the drugs wore off and they were back to normal.  We were a little concerned about Oreo, one of the goats, because he was not breathing right.  We tried to revive him, but he never woke up.  My daughters were devastated.  Kyle just wanted to make sure he didn’t have to pay for the one that died.  Karl felt terrible that the goat had died as the result of an elective procedure, next time we will send the kids inside and forget the sedation.  We held a little funeral for Oreo and placed him in a shallow grave at the dairy.  Kyle and Harvey (Karl’s son) spent most of the rest of the afternoon building and painting a grave marker.

Later that afternoon another one of Kyle’s goats had her babies.  We had been watching a waiting for a few weeks and finally she was giving birth.  The first baby was a healthy male, however the second one was deformed and although it was breathing it had to be euthanized (tragedy again).

As I thought about the day I reflected on the lessons that my children learn every day as a result of living on a farm.  The lesson of the day was about the cycle of life.  Life is fragile, all animals eventually die.  My children have the opportunity and excitement of seeing life begin, and the disappointment and sorrow of seeing it end.  While we have these animals in our care, we work and often sacrifice to meet their needs, realizing that the purpose of most of the animals in our care is to provide food (milk or meat) to sustain human life.  It was confirmed to me that my children care for our animals as evidenced by the tears they shed for a baby goat.  It is always hard to see a young animal die, but another one has been born.  Snickers is now a couple weeks old and plays with our family following us around yard and nibbling on whoever he can get hold of.

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