Sunday, December 19, 2010

Never throw anything away

I admit it, I am a pack rat. I come from a long line of pack rats, as does my husband. It is something that often frustrates us, as we have a lot of "stuff" that we are trying to organize without anywhere to put it. We struggle with trying to decide when we should get rid of something, especially since when we do, we often end up needing it for a project weeks or months later on. It is especially difficult because we intend to build our own home, so we need a certain amount of stuff for it. Much is in the nature of building supplies (wood, countertops, metal, etc.) that will be useful when we start building, but can really get in the way when there is no easy place to store it. We also try to repurpose and recycle materials as often as possible, finding creative ways to resolve problems. Like when we needed to build a pen and shelter for our first goats with just what was lying around on the property (we spent about $4 total on clips for the gate. That is it); the Goatagon was the product of our creativity.

Yesterday I was once again thankful that we and my in-laws have this tendency to keep items we may need in the future. Early in the morning during my husbands routine of feeding and watering the goats, one of the little ones (Her name is Rune) got her back leg stuck in the fence of the goat pen and broke it. Hubby was very upset and came to get me inside, where I was working on the goat milk and breakfast preparations. We checked it out, and it was indeed broken cleanly between the hock and the knee along the cannon bone. 

Neither of us had ever dealt with something like this before, but since I remembered reading a few months prior about goats and broken bones (and in light of our recent successful experiences with our goofy dog), I felt confident that we could deal with it ourselves.

We quickly grabbed some thin scrap wood from the garage/shop, and some self-adhesive bandage from my mother-in-laws vast stores of random medical supplies (she was a nurse until she retired) and set about making a splint to keep her leg together while we figured out if there was another way to keep it stable. The way it worked out, Hubby realigned the bones and wrapped the splint while I held the goat and kept her stable and helped keep the wood from moving too much. It seemed pretty easy to wrap, and she didn't complain much while we did it. In fact, she happily munched a little grain we set out without so much as a peep. Of course, it was too easy. After setting her back in the pen with her newly stabilized leg, we set about our own breakfast and research on goats and broken bones.

My father-in-law, in his infinite wisdom (insert heavy sarcasm here) claimed that you couldn't put a cast on a goats leg, and we should just splint it (using the materials we already did, only he treated it as his original idea). During our research we found that you can either cast or splint a broken leg, and it should heal just fine after the 4-6 weeks it takes for a bone to knit. We both thought that a cast would be the way to go, but after spending a few hours calling around the various medical supply places in the nearest town we weren't able to locate any plaster cast material. Weird. The ironic thing is that I have several rolls of the stuff back at our home since that is what I have used to make plaster casts of peoples faces for my artwork.

So after also calling a vet (who was currently being snowed in, in the next state over and couldn't drive the hour here to check on our little doe), we decided that we needed to replace the splint with a studier one. We also realized that she would do better in an "isolation" ward so that Alice wouldn't act like a normal goat and head butt her or push her around while she is healing. So we gathered our supplies again, plus some metal splint material normally used for fingers (and an ideal size for an almost yearling doe) and we set about to re-splint her leg. It wasn't as easy this time around. I think the leg was starting swell more, so she was pretty unhappy with having the bones realigned and splinted again (and was rather vocal about it). We also had our daughter take photos (hence the occasional finger in the way and viewpoint) since I had to pin down the doe so her leg could be worked on by my wonderful husband. I am sure it was quite the scene, with us doing the mending while also having to answer her questions, keep Rune calm, make sure our son was staying out of the way, while handing over the necessary supplies as they were needed. We ended up putting her in a large dog kennel (another very useful item we rescued from a neighbors trash) in the garage where we can keep her warm, dry, and in a small confined area for her recovery. Hopefully we can set her out in a few weeks once it starts healing, but we will have to play it by ear and see how it goes.

I suppose there are several lessons to be found here, if you are the sort to look for them. Always be prepared (luckily my husband is a former Boy Scout, and a creative man to boot) would be an important one. He says this last year has been all about learning patience and a certain amount of veterinary medicine, which I would not argue with at all!! Prepare for the worst but expect the best; I feel is one that is always good to keep in mind. And to bring us back full circle, dear readers: Never throw anything away. You never know when you may need it to fix a goats' broken leg.