She was not just any goat.
Born in Wayne County WV in 2011, Alita spent her first year in Athens, Ohio. By luck, she came to us in December, 2012 as our first goat and one of the first three animals to join the farm. She was joined by Primrose the donkey and Julia the sheep.
Alita introduced me to everything goat. She taught me how to care for, breed, birth, milk, and what it meant to just be an awesome goat. She was an easy keeper, always happy and healthy, and always in charge. To the rest of the herd, over the past 5+ years she has been the Queen. She was always there to let me know when things were 'off', when something was wrong or someone was misbehaving. Of all the goats, she was the smartest. She knew exactly what I wanted and where to go. When I opened the gate, she would walk straight into the milking parlor and hop on the stand. I never had to lead her, but if I did, I would simply put my hand on her shoulder and she responded.
In 2014, she had her first kids. Since then, she has been mother five times to 11 kids, 6 does and 5 bucks. Two of her daughters, one granddaughter, and three of her sons (as wethers) still live here with us. Since her last kidding in December, she has milked twice per day and refused to slow down. Even when I tried to move her to once a day, she refused and took her place in line at the gate. There was no way she would be left out! She had a job to do.
It is not the same without her. Only a few days have passed since we lost her, and I still expect to see her smiling face there to greet me. My heart breaks and my eyes sting every time I think of her. I will miss her kisses and her companionship. She was not just any goat. She was my teacher and my friend.
We lost Alita on 7/21/2018 after a sudden and short battle with pneumonia.
"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you until we meet again!"
- Author Unknown
Over the past 24 hours, we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about colic. The most important lesson is, I never want my horses to experience this again.
I have heard and read stories of equine colic from friends and acquaintances, and many times the ending is heartbreaking. I consider us very fortunate that, at least as of this time today, our story has a happy ending.
It began yesterday during my daily evening rounds to feed and check on the animals. While caring for the boys in the buck pen, Shiloh came eagerly walking up to the fence that was between us. It is normal for him and Freckles to greet me any time I'm in the pasture, usually hoping for a treat or at the very least a pat and a hug. This time, however, Shiloh was alone. These two are never apart by choice, and complain bitterly if they are forced. I quickly jumped in the gator and drove down the pasture calling for Freckles, Shiloh flew past me. .
There she was, lying in a shady area near a brush pile. The dirt under her was flattened as if she had been there for a while. She saw me and struggled to her feet. At that moment I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I knew it was definitely something out of the ordinary.
She followed Shiloh, trotting back to the open pasture where John was working in the garden. I told him that something was wrong with Freckles, When we both turned to look at her, she had laid down in the middle of the field and was rolling back and forth on her back.
My first thought was, Freckles has colic. We stood her up and noticed her abdomen was distended and very firm. She was in obvious pain. I did the only thing any modern farmer would do and googled 'horse colic.' The symptoms were classic.
We both agreed it was time to call the vet. John grabbed her halter and started walking her. One hour later, I was meeting Dr. Walker and family and driving them up the hill.
He examined her, and treated her with medications, educating us all the while. The next few hours would be up to us to monitor her, and call him if needed.
By this time, it was 9:30 pm.
Connor came to help us build a coral in the pasture to keep the horses from wandering away during the night. Freckles was exhausted. Her skin was cool and clammy, and her eyes glassy, still drunk from the pain medication. We continued to walk her and keep her on her feet.
At around eleven she was standing. We decided to get cleaned up and I would go back to check on her at midnight.
She was sitting on the ground with her head up, but not rolling. I coaxed her up and walked her for a while. Seeming status quo, i went back down the hill.
Two hours later, I was back with her. This time she seemed to be in pain again, wanting to roll. I forced her up and administered another dose of pain medication, this time orally.
I could not leave her side. We walked slowly back and forth, she was weak and panting, begging to lay down. Each time I stopped her. This went on for more than two hours. Finally, she laid down and would not get up. Her head was up, so I stood, bracing my body against her neck reminding her not to roll. If at any time I walked away, she tried to stretch out. I sat beside her and held her head up, talking to her and begging her to stay, Shiloh needs her. I thought I was going to lose her. Her breath was shallow, and she could barely hold up her head. I could feel myself getting weary,
Just in time,(5 am) John called my cell. "I'm coming. Get her up" he said. She finally stood up for me, and we walked again, for three more hours. As the sun came up, she seemed to gain energy and her stomach was gurgling. By 9 am, she was licking salt and drinking water and finally - Poop!
I'ml not confident its over, but things are definitely improving.
Special thanks to Dr. Walker and the Equine Center for his compassionate care.
My name is Christy Franklin.