Thursday, December 5, 2013
When we first started farming, occasionally we would get asked about keeping goats. People, especially those that had them, would tell us we should get them. I would immediately say no. Thinking back I am not exactly sure why I didn't want goats. Fast forward to 3 years ago when out of milk necessity we got our first goats.
Goats are not like any animal I have ever had. They are kind of dog like, but child like at the same time. They are amusing, charming, gentle, naughty, and sweet (sometimes all at the same time!). Our herd of 3 grew to a herd of 11 quickly.
Although we have been farming for 7 years now we are still newbies. There is so much to learn, with goats we often feel overwhelmed. They seemed to be so much more susceptible to sickness, but our journey has taught us that it is not sickness that they are susceptible to but improper care.
In this short journey the one thing that I have become to realize is you are either in or you are out. Having cows from the beginning we never dealt with as much as we have with goats. Raising cows it is easy to say you raise them naturally. With goats you either do or you don't. No halfway. We have half-assed tried the natural way, always thinking that we could use a chemical if we needed to, then just hop back on the natural bandwagon.
Last week I noticed one of our goats was kinda off. Within a few days she was just laying around, that night she started drooling. I thought that she had bloat. Something we have never dealt with. I walked her and rubbed her tummy for almost 2 hours. I also drenched her with all sorts of herbs, gave her some oils. And went to bed, she was done with the walking and really wanted to just be back with the herd. The next morning she was the same. That is when I was introduced to Listeriosis.
"Listeriosis is a brain-stem disease caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which is found in soil, water, plant litter, silage, and even in the goat's digestive tract. The bacterium generally enters the goat's body through the mouth and multiplies rapidly in cold temperatures." Source
Switching treatments we started treating herbally for Listeriosis. Being new to goats and to herbs I rely on a wonderful natural goat group on Facebook (Totally Natural Goats). Friday unfortunately was not getting better, she was not eating or drinking. We were drenching her with fluids, giving her herbs every 15 to 30 minutes. I was even giving her enemas. She eventually lost sight in one of her eyes, her whole body would tense up and she would roll. She was in pain. I decided to find a conventional treatment. After just one treatment we lost her. I think by the time we started treating her for Listeriosis it was already too late.
Friday was our first goat, we got her when she was just a kid. This year was her first year kidding, she gave us a beautiful buck and a gorgeous doe. She was an great mom, and an amazing milker for a first year. I know that with every situation we encounter we learn something. I hope that I never see another goat suffering from Listeriosis.
In the midst of all of this I have been reading Empty Harvest by Dr. Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson. The book has been an eye opener for me. Mark Anderson spends quite a bit of time talking about the immune system. Basically what it all boils down to is plants, humans, livestock, we were all designed "brilliantly." It is what we do with what we have that gets us where we are.
The point in the book where Anderson quotes Dr. Royal Lee is what solidified it for me:
"One of the biggest tragedies of human civilization is the precedence of chemical therapy over nutrition. It's a substitution of artificial therapy over natural, of poisons over food, in which we are feeding people poisons [drugs], trying to correct the reactions of starvation."
If we are nutritionally balanced, if our body is getting what it needs then our immune system can function properly. For me and the livestock this not only means feeding them a grass-based diet. It also means getting rid of chemical mineral supplements and using herbs to meet their mineral needs. It means more research.
Rest in peace dear friend.