Blog written by Sarah Klapstein
"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful" -Annette Funicello
I remember the day Renata & her babies arrived like it was yesterday. It was the end of summer, both our farms packed with the kids of the busiest rescued baby season we have ever had, goats returning from foster, a recent slaughterhouse rescue and lots of goats via urgent owner surrender. But when I got the message from a dairy "interested in a mom and her 1 week old boys? She has a dropped udder" I had that all too familiar feeling, she belonged with us.
We asked one of our amazing foster homes if they could take them in, they agreed and we made arrangements to pick Mama & babies up the next day. We knew that without us, the chances of Mama and her babies ending up in the hands of a meat buyer was high. That morning they told me one of the babies was recovering from FKS (floppy kid syndrome) but that he was improving. I had a feeling that it was likely they would need to come to one of the rescue's farms so we could monitor and treat (if need be) the FKS. Barbara called once she picked up the family and not only did Mama goat have a dropped udder, she was in rough shape with an infected abscess on a foot. So to BGC she was coming. I immediately shuffled goats and had a shelter and pasture ready for mama & her babies when they arrived.
I opened the truck and my heart swelled while tears filled my eyes, poor mama was a mess but immediately, I loved her. She talked, sniffed my face and nuzzled her babies. Her udder was literally dragging on the ground. Covered in manure and muck, it broke my heart. She was unsure of what was happening, but she trusted me as I led her to her new pasture with her babies happily bouncing behind her. That was the beginning of a special bond between Renata & I.
I spent hours that day in her pasture letting her get used to me and her new surroundings. I snuggled her babies who were as friendly as bottle raised babies and watched them jump and spin and run freely in a big open space for the first time. Renata would often come over and sniff my face, talk to me and let me pet her. She struggled to walk. Her foot clearly bothering her and her dropped and very full udder causing her to have to kick one leg out and around when she walked. Laying down was hard for her as she had to constantly reposition her udder so she could get comfortable. Her babies had no problem nursing though and sweet little Duncan, thankfully, had no lingering FKS symptoms.
In the weeks that followed Renata had multiple visits with our vet Dr. P. He removed, as best he could, the infected growth on her foot. We discussed an udder removal once the boys were of weaning age and what that would entail. Renata started to gain weight, get a shiny healthy coat and truly embrace her new lease on life. She had big open spaces to roam, a stall all her own for her and her babies at night with a kiddie pool full of dry soft bedding to sleep in which quickly became a family favorite spot. She received supplemental feeding which at first was an acquired taste which is hard to believe now and she begs for and scarfs down her grain and pellets everyday.
Over time, her udder has shrunk considerably and we no longer are having to consider an udder removal. She had been getting around great until about a week ago when she started favoring her once infected foot again. Earlier this week, Dr. P came to see her. Unfortunately the infected area is growing back slowly. Sometimes no matter how much is taken out, we just can't get it all but cutting away at it. The infection isn't spreading, it is localized in a toe. What this means is that we will have to amputate her toe. A procedure we are not new to. A few years back we rescued an older goat from a slaughterhouse, Faye, who had a similar foot infection due to standing in mud, muck and unsanitary conditions and Dr. P performed the same surgery. What this means for Renata is a few weeks bandaged and needing dry ground to stand on which in the PNW is near impossible to come by unless we keep her in a stall of the barn. We're currently working through the logistics of it all but we will work with Dr. P to plan the best time to proceed in the coming weeks. The amputation won't impact her mobility once she has healed but it will ensure she remains infection and pain free.
I was saddened by the news. Not because it will impact Renata negatively but because there is still more that needs to be done along her journey to get her to where we want her to be. Despite still needing another surgery, she has come so far. I can't forget that. Her transformation the past few months has been amazing and inspiring.
I struggle to put into words my love and adoration for Renata and the bond her and I share. I look at her and can't help but smile. She is so happy in her new life and that, that makes me so unbelievably happy. There is something so endearing about her. About her story. At first glance, her physical "imperfections" are apparent; her dropped udder, her square face with bottom teeth that often stick out, her unicorn horn scur, the bad feet that she will forever have to live with to some degree. But to me, she is absolutely perfect. She is an amazing mother, she adores her boys and they adore her. At 5 months old and already 1/2 her size, she is still nursing them. The 3 still nap and sleep in a small kiddie pool together all snuggled up. For the first time in her life, she gets to keep her babies, it is apparent she is relishing in it, not something we often see from former dairy goats. She loves being a mother and all that entails. She has integrated well into the big herd here at BGC and can even be seen playing just like a kid from time to time. It is truly the best feeling to see her jump and frolic like her babies do. She loves her life. I love spoiling her and giving her that life she otherwise would have never had. Despite all she has been through, she is happy.
Her road hasn't been an easy one and there are still more bumps ahead to navigate but all I want is for her to be happy. I'll take care of the rest.