A couple of weeks ago something new happened: we had goat-related veterinary expense. For the last 3.5 years our pygmy goats (Timbit, Morsel and Roland McNugget) have been the least expensive farm denizens – they don’t each much (a flake of alfalfa between them daily, a bit of grain, and time on the pasture) and they have been in perfect health. So I was alarmed one Thursday morning (a day I work from home, thankfully) to hear Morsel bleating plaintively from the goat van while the other two tucked into their breakfast. When I arrived on the scene he didn’t want to get up, and I thought he had hurt a leg. It turns out that 50lbs of uncooperative goat weights more than 50lbs, but I managed to wrestle him out to the paddock and onto his feet. He stood there for a moment, then headed backwards at high speed, perfectly sound. So I stuck him on a leash and brought him into the yard to observe. His sides were heaving and he seemed to prefer going in reverse over going forwards, but he mostly preferred standing still and crying pathetically. At this point I called Daun, my dear friend and caprine encyclopaedia. She listened while I managed to take his temperature, and told me a bunch of things that it could be off the top of her head, all of which made it clear that I needed to call a vet.
I kept my eye on Morsel while doing the chores, and intermittently used my iPhone to look up the stuff that Daun had told me about. Urinary calculi sounded most likely, given that Morsel (1) is a whether, (2) was whethered before maturity of the urethra, and (3) gets some grain in his diet. Once the chores were finished I resolved to watch him until he tried to pee or he actually peed. About half an hour went by before he took a really weird stance, bleated once quite loudly, and passed some urine. When the vet arrived he agreed that it had probably been a blockage and (on Daun’s advice) gave me several days worth of Banamine to help keep any swelling down. Total veterinary expense for goats thus far = $150. Morsel has been fine ever since, and seems totally unaware that we are watching him like hawks. At the same time we have made some changes to our goat husbandry – they will not get grain anymore, and I will always pay closer attention to the level of water in their paddock. Last week I installed their heated bucket, which I normally wouldn’t do until the nights were sub-zero. Let’s hope this was the first and last time!