Here are the facts:
1. Izzy was fine on Saturday evening.
2. Sunday morning, John and I held her in our arms as she died.
3. I am devastated.
Izzy. You may remember her from when she aborted her twins last year. Or perhaps from my Instagram pic of her this spring when she was enormously pregnant with triplets. Or, maybe you remember her as the mother of Shake, our little miracle goat who still has the run of the farm.
I was pretty proud of Izzy. She'd had a rough year when she aborted, but thanks to some TLC, she had bounced back. She gave birth to her triplets, and since we'd sold the boys, had been an excellent mother to little Shake. About a week ago, I'd trimmed her thick hair for the first time ever and was astounded by how stunning our blonde beauty was. She was the first goat that I'd trained to the milk stand, and she had really come around.
Earlier this spring, on the first day I attempted to milk her, John and I had to lift her onto the milk stand. Even though her head was locked in place with the head gate, she still jumped off the milk stand every time I attempted to touch her udder. Flash forward a few months . . . She'd become such an excellent milker that I knew something was off on Sunday morning, because it was her turn to be milked but she wasn't waiting on me at the gate.
But, where was she? The rest of the herd was up near the barn where I could see them. Scanning the field, I could barely make out her head above the grass. She was lying down under a tree. Dashing across the field, I could hear her moaning in pain before I reached her. If I'm being honest, I think I knew as soon as I touched her that there was nothing I could do -- she was so cold to the touch.
John and I carried all 150 pounds of her to the barn where a temperature check revealed that her body temp (usually around 102 degrees) had plummeted to 95. It wasn't difficult to diagnose the issue -- bloat. Her rumen had accumulated far too much gas, and she wasn't able to expel it. We set about treating her the best we could.
During this time, she was crying out in pain. Shake was just bee-bopping all around us -- even jumping on top of her Momma. We had to put her up in the baby pen (the only one she can't get out of). Even in all her pain, Izzy was still a good momma. Shake began crying out to her mom from across the field, and between her own moans and shouts, Izzy answered her baby in the language that only the two of them share.
We continued treatment -- never gave up. But, it was apparent from the get-go that this was a losing battle. The bloat had reached the point where pressure on her diaphragm was impeding the normal function of her heart and lungs. Izzy died in our arms within 30 minutes of having found her in the field.
A word on pasture bloat:
Basically, goats are prone to it. They can get it from breaking into the barn and overeating grain or other sudden changes in diet including being let out into lush pasture for too long at a time when they're used to being penned in the barn (like the way lots of farms overwinter their goats). But, Izzy hadn't had any changes to her diet. And, our goats live on pasture year round. We've seen some of our goats get a little round before. That always signals me to be sure they have access to baking soda, which helps them to work out the gas. But, we have never before experienced a goat having such sudden onset of such severe bloat.
Honestly, this all still seems pretty surreal. In my dreams last night, we lost the entire herd to sudden illness. Why wouldn't I have those dreams? I now know firsthand that a healthy goat today could be a dead goat tomorrow. Shake isn't taking it well either. Luckily, she has some other mother figures who are already showing signs of stepping in, but watching her circle the hay bales where she'd last seen her momma and cry out endlessly is gut wrenching. Our entire family keeps going out to find her and give her hugs. I hope it's helping her. I know it's helping me.