Livestock are not pets (I tell myself). I think when you have a small farm like ours the line between pet and livestock blur a bit. It also blurs a bit when the livestock is little, furry, and adorable.
Just look at this gorgeous boy.
Awe, that face!
Chickens, on the other hand, we're at the point where we have so many that I've stopped naming them. That's a sure sign that I've mentally moved them into the livestock category, right? I mean, I do have a favorite chicken and she has a name. A handful of our other chickens have names too, but that's only if they have a unique look or personality. Or, if one of our kids named them. We have a hen named Oreo and one named Pumpkin for that exact reason.
Our goats are perhaps in their own category. That was definitely confirmed after our recent goat drama, which I will get into shortly. However, first I feel the need to name this new category that our goats fall into, livestock + Pet = Petstock (unfortunately, this is a brand name pet supply store, oh well, it's fitting. Livepet, the only other real option just sounds like you don't have dead ones...). Moving on, each of our goats has a name, but unlike our cats, who are truly pets, they produce a sellable product (well most of them). Our cats just produce things I have to clean up... However, like the cats, the goats are going to be here for a long time eventually living out their golden years, which is more pet-like. (why does this matter, Kris?)
I label our animals, mentally, for my own peace of mind. While we take the best care of them and probably spoil each and every one, I can't love them all like a pet. I still miss our old cat, Bubba, a HUGE black and white long-haired Norwegian Forrest Cat. That boy was amazing, sort of half-dog in his sweetness. On the flip side, we've lost about a dozen chickens or so over the last few years, and I'm not heartbroken over any of them. A couple of chickens were taken by a fox, some were given away. One of them I put in the freezer myself. That doesn't mean I didn't care for them or love them, but I didn't grieve them like a favorite cat, which is a good thing. A bit of self-preservation.
I used to think our goats were purely livestock, but I've gotten to know each one of them so well. Plus they all add great value to our little farm. So, when Buckles, our one intact male goat, cut his mouth recently, I'd say my reaction was equal parts, farmer and pet owner. First, I assumed death was near. Thus I felt sheer panic, impending doom, and failure. Obviously, he couldn't survive a small cut that had already stopped bleeding. Okay, maybe this reaction was more in line with an overprotective parent...
I called the vet and found that they were booked solid, out a month! This had never happened before. Usually, I could make an appointment or even get on the books for a farm visit within the same week. They told me I could do an over-the-phone consult, but they'd have to call me back later. Mind you, it took me calling them three times just to get through to a person. What is going on there? (I didn't ask.)
While I waited impatiently, I messaged my favorite goat mentor and another close friend that has more goat experience than I. Both offered great advice. #1 - Check to see if he had a temperature. I've done this before, luckily, unluckily? I had to move our milk stand out to the buck pen, get him a treat to distract him and take a rectal temp. TOP TIP: Buy a thermometer that's fast! I think mine takes about 10 seconds. This is really handy with a wiggly baby goat. Buckles, on the other hand, didn't care whatsoever. I took his temp twice to be sure. 101 degrees, no fever (for a goat).
The next piece of advice was #2 - Give him a CDT shot. A CDT shot is a tetanus shot for goats. Since I wasn't sure how he cut himself, it could've very well been on metal. They have a metal fence, there are metal screws holding their barn together, etc. Unfortunately, I did not have CDT on hand.
Finally, I got a hold of the vet. I'm pretty sure they were trying to leave for the day and knew this cut wasn't life-threatening. However, they've been our vet for years now, and they know pretty well that our goats are "Petstock" and that I'm pretty excellent at worrying. They confirmed I should pick up an antibiotic and CDT. My goat mentor also recommended a vitamin B Complex shot and some probiotics if I was going to give him the antibiotic. Ruminant or not antibiotics mess with your digestion system.
At this point, it was the end of the day and our local feed store was closed. I would have to wait till morning, which also meant I'd have to give him the shots myself or wait even longer till my husband got home and could administer them. He worked as a phlebotomist for many years (long ago), so naturally, he's my go-to for all animal shots. He also knew this and knew how worried I was, even though I was playing it really cool, ha. He offered to tack on an extra hour to his commute home in order to pick up the medicine at the closest feed store that was still open so he could give Buckles his shots that night.
By the time he got home, it was late, dark, you know, still winter... obviously ideal conditions. We were about to layer up and go out to go give Buckles his many, many shots when my husband reads about goats going into allergic shock after CDT shots (which is rare) and how one should have epinephrine on hand just in case. Again, this boy is our only intact buck and he's A-FREAKING-ADORABLE. We couldn't risk it. We decided to give him the B shot and the antibiotic (plus probiotics) since the cut was impossible to keep clean, but not the CDT shot till we had epinephrine. It was cold out and hours after the goats had all been tucked in for the night, but Buckles was a champ and was thrilled about a late-night treat (even if it hurt a little).
The next day I tried to figure out where to get epinephrine and quickly learned I'd need a prescription. Sigh. A short call to the vet, then a drive to the vet, and we had our "hopefully we don't need this" shot. Buckles was a little wary about getting up on the milk stand again that evening since last time's treats pinched a bit. But once he was there nibbling away, he didn't really seem to notice his third shot in the past 24 hours.
His mouth healed up pretty quickly and he never really seemed to act any different. There's a good chance he would've been just fine without any intervention, but he's important to our farm growth (and I wuv him). Plus, my goat-pharmacy is even better stocked for the next illness or injury, and I have a little extra experience under my belt. Also, I'm super grateful for my farm heroes, our crazy busy vet, my goat mentor, supportive friends, and my husband. You don't really know how good you have it till you need it.
Let's end here with a dose of reality. Buckles is cute, but he's not all glamor shots. Pee-soaked beard shot below...