But then everything changed.
By evening on milk test day, her udder was half as full as it should have been and the right side of her udder was very hard. This is often the first sign of mastitis. Most of my first fresheners (goats kidding for the first time) freshen with smaller teats and they stay small for a few weeks until the babies get bigger, then the teats start getting larger and easier for me to milk. Maddie's were very short and she would not drop down her milk for me in the morning. So, try as I might I could not get all of her milk out during test day. I know she had a gallon in there, but for milk test day she only gave me 3.8# total.
After I returned her babies to her, she was still very very depressed. Her appetite was low and she seemed lethargic. I checked her temp and it had spiked to 105.5. Normal for a goat is 101.5-103.5. I started her on infection fighting herbs and made sure her babies were nursing a lot to help clear up that right side of her udder. The following morning her temp was back down to normal range but the next few days her right side udder remained hard and her appetite kept dwindling. Nothing I was doing was working.
On Thursday night her temp was dangerously low at 98.6. I did not think she would survive the night. I stayed out with her and nursed her through the night keeping her warm and by morning her temp was slowly climbing back up. When it got light out, I checked her udder and tried to milk her out only to find that the milk had turned bloodly. It was time to call the vet. By this time she had not eaten in 24 hrs and had no energy to get up.
The vet put in IV fluids, started her on lots of meds and diagnosed her as having a severe case of toxic mastitis. If she were a human, she would have been flown to Rochester Mayo Clinic and been put in the ICU. She had a 50/50 chance.
Last weekend then was touch and go. After getting an official diagnosis from my vet, I was able to confer with my homeopath again and we switched remedies to a better remedy that suited her picture. After that we noticed improvement. She was able to stand on her own and started to regain an appetite. Having her babies close by and snuggling with them, I am convinced, gave her more of a reason to fight; she had to live for them. A mother's love knows no bounds.
This week Maddie has regained strength, continued eating, and has starting producing milk again in the other side of her udder. She is out of the woods and will live. It has basically been a wait and see as to what will happen with the right side of her udder. Well, unfortunately I know now. The right side where the tissue was black and blue is starting to slough off from the udder. Sadly this includes her teat. I am pretty sure this means that she will never be able to have kids again. (If there is no teat to get milk out, how would she be able to have kids again because if that side fills up with milk after she gives birth there is no way of getting it out and mastitis would start all over again). For sure her future on milk test and linear appraisal are over.
I am heartbroken. I was elated that she freshened into such a beautiful milking doe and I was so excited for all that her future held. I can't help but think if I did things differently she might still be fully functional. If only I had not cared about milk testing and kept her with the babies, if only I would have called my homeopath and the vet sooner, if only...
But now all my hopes and dreams for her have been shattered. I bought 4 does to start my herd. She was one of them. 25% of my herd is now out of production. What should have been a 10+ year career has ended after 1 and I am completely devastated. I got one daughter out of her this year, but had such beautiful plans for so many more. I am left picking up the pieces of shattered dreams and I have spent the better part of this week being mad at God for allowing this to happen and for feeling like He has turned a deaf ear to my agonizing prayers. In the last nine months with the goats I have dealt with: meningeal worm, brown recluse spider bite, a freak accident taking off a chunk of one goat's ear, and now this toxic mastitis. I can't handle this and feel like the world's biggest goat owner failure. I put all of myself into my farm: my time, my money, my energy. But it doesn't seem like it's enough.
Our pastor gave a very encouraging message this morning at church. I am trying to cling to the truth that God doesn't waste any hardship we go through. Everything we go through is to mature and complete us so that we lack nothing and are the holy people God desires us to be. I have been reminded this week of Proverbs 19:21: "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.