Last Saturday, Hubby went out to do chores, and found our buck laying dead in the barn. Just…dead. There was no sign of illness or injury; no blood, pus, mucous, cud, diarrhea, lumps, bumps, bruises…nothing. He was found laying on his side in the straw, but there was no sign that he’d had convulsions or anything. No indication at all of what might have happened. The buck was a little on the skinny side, but had been eating and drinking normally as of the night before, perky and being a nuisance when the boys were being fed.
I immediately called our breeder to ask if he had any ideas. He asked us about our worming program. I had postponed worming, because I picked up the dewormer after the does had been bred; the directions on the package indicated it wasn’t to be used in pregnant cattle (there are never instructions for goats, alas), and I couldn’t find any information about whether or not it might be safe in goats. He also asked about supplementation. We give a bit of fortified goat ration, and a blue cobalt salt block, but the breeder informed me that this probably isn’t sufficient – our area is deficient in selenium, and the goats probably also need more copper and maybe calcium than the ration would contain. Between those things and the extreme cold (it was -35 that night), the breeder indicated he might have just died due to poor condition. Of course, he could be fine on all counts and just have dropped dead of a heart attack or aneurysm, too, and there’s no way to know for sure, short of a post-mortem, which I’m not willing to pay for at this point – we’ll need that money to buy a new buck.
I have this nagging feeling like we might have killed our awesome boy through ignorance and neglect, though, and we’re both pretty cut up about it. He was such a docile and friendly buck, and we’re breeding for attitude, so he was perfect in that regard. He’d really become a pet, as we knew we planned to keep him more or less forever. We’d gotten completely attached.
On Saturday, I finally sucked it up and tried eating goat cheese. With Baby M having such a violent and extended allergic reaction when I eat any cow products, I had been too chicken to try any alternatives. I have been working up my courage since before Christmas. So I made up a pizza on a gluten-free crust with home-made goat ricotta, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, and peppers. It was absolutely divine, after six months without a bite of cheese.
Baby M did not react at all. I would have been dancing a happy dance if not for the black cloud hanging over our heads with the loss of the buck.
I’ve been finding a way to work cheese into pretty much every meal since…
Tuesday, while I was out doing chores in the girls’ yard, I got this creepy feeling like I was being watched. I glanced around at the girls, who should have all had their heads in their grain buckets; the three older does were all looking to the north, ignoring their grain entirely. I looked around, too, and didn’t see anything…until it moved. A huge coyote, slinking out of a derelict building that is not at all far from the girls’ pen. I’m certain it was a coyote and not a wolf, but it was a seriously large coyote. And bold! It sat down in front of the building and just watched us. I charged that general direction, yelling and flapping my arms; the coyote moved a few steps and sat down again. I grabbed a chunk of snow and threw it…if my aim had been better, I might have had better effect – but the coyote just moved a few more steps before sitting down again. Eventually, it wandered off, but the girls and I were all spooked.
After chores, I got the dogs, and went exploring around the area. The coyote had been into the compost pile; Hubby knew something had been digging in there, but had blamed Poppy, or thought maybe it was a skunk. There were pretty well-established trails in and out of the bush, suggesting this critter has been hanging around for a while. I am not sure what our next course of action should be. We could try to trap or shoot the coyote, but I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle. There are still all the foxes, plus plenty of other coyotes, waiting to take this one’s place. I am not so worried about the goats, especially since they go in the barn at night, but the cats are at risk, and the chickens are pretty vulnerable. The snow has effectively reduced my five foot fences to about three feet – even the non-drifted areas are up well past my knees, and the snow around the goat and chicken yards is packed fairly solidly from us and the critters walking on it. My biggest worry is when the goat kids come. The goat yard is easily approached from the bush, and a kid would be pretty tempting for a hungry coyote. I haven’t seen the coyote since that day, but we know it’s still hanging around.
There has been so much piling up that it’s almost hard to tackle writing a blog post about it. However, in short, it’s been a rollercoaster of a week – we’ve been down (way down) about the loss of our buck, up about the possibility of me being able to eat cheese again, and worried about that stupid coyote. Bleh. I’d rather things were boring…