Today’s missive belongs to our gorgeous Leia; she’s earned it. Not only did she endure a visit from the vet and the subsequent “procedure”, she also had to cope with the unwanted attentions of someone she wasn’t really that interested in. Sometimes the decisions we are required to make on behalf of the non-humans sharing our space, the whole short term pain for long term gain thing, suck big time. We’re still deciding whether her staunchness, bearing it all with total trust in us and a slightly horrified look in her lovely yellow eyes, makes it all better or worse.
Leia arrived on the Homestead with a bit of a “heads up” warning list, top of which were the very things that earned her name: her horns. Artfully coiled, the epitomy of Star Wars chic, the right one has the tendency to grow dangerously close to the top of her jaw.
It was recommended we keep an eye on the gap between horn tip and Leia face and either have a go at snicking the horn tip ourselves or get a vet in. As we on the Homestead have found through naively enthusiastic trial and horrendously humiliating error, any procedure that can be described by a seemingly insignificant word, eg: snick, tap or trim, or is prefaced by the word “just” (as in, “you just hold this in your left hand and insert ludicrously convoluted instruction, honestly you could do it with your eyes closed”) is anything but, we phoned the vet. Actually, that downplays the amount of google searching involved in finding a vet near the Homestead willing to take on farm, as opposed to domestic or companion animals. Yes, this IS something we should have looked into prior to the animals taking up residence but, thankfully, we landed on our proverbial feet in finding the wonderful Belfast Veterinary Clinic.
Dr Steve Lucas was on the Homestead within hours, didn’t for a moment let on that our set up was any less conventional than those of his other more rural clients, and presented a plan of action within moments. Apparently, no two goat horns are alike, particularly with regard to the distance the blood vessel grows down them, and identifying what length to trim them can be a bit of a well-educated guessing game. Steve proposed taking a decent amount off them, administered an analgesic (painkiller), and assembled his wire saw (a length of wire between two hand holds) for the job. The Milk Maid was to act as his assistant. As Leia’s agitated pacing moved through slightly panicked walk to drooling, knock kneed stagger, work began. The Milk Maid, legs braced and teeth gritted, hauled on one horn while Steve sawed determinedly on the other. Leia, crosseyed, tolerated the whole deal until one of her ears flicked the friction hot wire, whereas she emitted a sound not normally heard out of labour or dysentery wards. Such was Steve’s professionalism, he didn’t even sigh at The Milk Maid’s obvious lack of farm mindset. Leia bore the tearful apologies with martyred resignation and the procedure was completed, totally bloodlessly; an undeniable success. So much so that it was decided to even up her appearance by lopping the other one as well, this time with her ear well restrained.
We were advised to keep an eye on her for the two or so hours following, making sure she didn’t roll onto her left side thus risking bloat or drown in the impressive amount of drool (a side effect of the painkiller) she was emitting. Steve suggested arranging her with her body on the deck and head on the lower step, thus allowing easy mouth drainage and comfortable patient observation from the other side of the french doors. This is where we admit to setting up camp between the herb garden and second raised bed, where she finally collapsed, taking turns to cuddle our dribbly goat. Almost two hours to the minute later she opened her eyes, shook her head, shuffled around and stood up. Half an hour later, she was back in the paddock and under the care of a very concerned Nessie, who had watched all through the connecting gate.
That nights we enlisted the help of Henry to cook tea.
Miss Leia rocked her new look! Such was her confidence the following day that she was the prevalent occupant of the coveted spot (lounging up against the gate) and even beat Nessie to the food bowls. Of course, by days end Nessie had got sick of cutting her slack and restamped her authority, literally.
If this wasn’t enough for one goat to handle, on Thursday it was undeniable: Miss Leia was in heat. As milk supply has been slowly but surely dwindling of late, it was definitely time to um… strike while the iron’s hot. A trip to the farm and their able bucks was hurriedly organised.
Once encouraged out of the back seat of the van (yes, we know: townies) Leia was all purpose, dragging the human on the end of her lead with the precision of a heat (sorry) seeking missile to the bucks paddock. Batchelor Number One was introduced and he liked what he saw.
Now, we are not going to go into detail here; suffice to say there was a distinct absence of roses, chocolate or candlelight. At the exact point we decided to allow the couple some privacy and go and source some much needed Homestead soft furnishings, Leia decided that this arrangement was not to her liking. Running to the fence, her expression was that of a child on their first proper day at kindy. We did what any self respecting parent would do in such a circumstance and kept walking.
Our curtain shopping was punctuated by progress, or should we say lack of progress, reports. Returning four hours later, both bucks were unleashed in the paddock studiously ignoring our damsel, who was curled in a ball, yowling. Was it a successful trip? Highly unlikely.
Initially sulkily ignoring us, Leia soon stumbled up to us with a “how COULD you” look on her face, paused long enough for her lead to be fastened and the gate opened, and then galloped vanwards. The drive home was to the accompaniment of traumatised goat whimpers.
There is a Plan B involving a debonair young Oxford goat aptly named Stinky who may, as a rather stunning Sanaan with an impressive set of horns, may be more to her liking.
But right now it’s time for Leia to take a bit of time out in the paddock enjoying some carefully selected g-haute cuisine.
And for us humans it’s a case of wait and see.
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