Why share a Christmas story in July? The heat wave continues in America’s heartland. The mood here is sober. Our market garden is well structured with drip irrigation. The goats have plenty of water. However, the heat continues to pummel our farm with no prospect of rain. It wears on the farmer. We rise early to work, sweat buckets, and feel drained. It is all a part of the effort it takes to bring farm fresh goodness to realization.
A Christmas story in July helps beat the heat
When the heat is on, we turn our thoughts to cool memories. Memories that transport us to cooler weather for reprieve.
Six years ago, we celebrated Christmas in an unusual way. Check out our guest list: An international student from Zambia, neighbors with no family, our zany large family and one goat that took up residence in the house. Enjoy this Christmas story in July while you sip on a cold glass of lemonade.
Christmas morning is the height of anticipation. It is the long-awaited moment. All the shopping, all the preparations unfold. The joy of giving and serving is what gets me most excited.
Too excited to sleep
Waking at 5:00 a.m Christmas morning, I was too excited to sleep. I invited friends who do not have family. As an orphan of sorts, I understand the anguish of lonely holidays. As a result, I planned a special brunch at 10: 00 a.m. I did not need to be up that early but could not contain my excitement. At 8:00 I planned to start breakfast preparations.
At 8:00 prompt, I showered, dressed, and put on a fresh apron. As I tugged the apron over my head, I heard a panicked cry from one of my twins.
A panicked cry changes everything
“Jessie, is laying on the ground and not acting right!”
Jessie was one of our yearling does. I looked out the window to see this young goat laying lifeless, her abdomen swollen.
Forget clean clothes, a life must be saved
Panic took over. I sailed out the door in my fresh clean clothes. In fact, I had on bleached white shoes. Emergencies cause such dreadful oversights. I found myself kneeling in the cold damp hay cradling her head in my lap. She was still alive and moaning. She began kicking her legs. Massaging her swollen belly, I began shouting orders to the kids. I was not thinking. I was in emergency mode.
“Get me something to puncture abdomen. She is dying!”
Panic and sadness continued to carry me through the moment.
“God, we asked for babies on Christmas not a dead goat. Please help me save her.”
The children brought me a couple of items to puncture her bloated abdomen. Bear in mind, I had never ever punched a hole in an animal. I had no idea what I was doing.
I remembered reading about it once.
That was it.
I did not have the proper tools. But, as is often the case on the farm, one must make due.
Using methods I only read about
We used the detached end of a syringe. It would have to do. I stabbed the goat and the air began to hiss out of the hole in the opposite end of the syringe. I vigorously massaged her abdomen until I was satisfied the swelling was down.
My daughter rushed to my side. “Get her standing. She should not be on her side.”
The goat could not stand on her own. We held her. Her neck was arched in what looked like a permanent spasm. Next, I drenched her with mineral oil. We administered emergency shots of B-complex and other nutrients. Finally, the goat stood a little steadier. But her neck and joint muscles were unusually stiff. I prepared the children for the worst.
Say what? Take her in the house?
“Mom, she is cold. If we are going to save her, she has to come in the house,” Moriah said.
The reality of the situation hit me as I looked down at the manure stains on my jeans, the blood on my hands, and the dirt stains on my once white shoes.
My apron told the story of the rescue and its gory details. Guests were due in an hour. How could I pull it off? What would they think of an ailing or dying goat taking up residence in the house?
This could be the most interesting and traumatic Christmas yet.
Most people know I am a diehard goat and cow owner. Reason escapes me when it comes to helping an animal in distress.
We called upon the strongest boy of the family. He came out and hauled the weak goat into the master bathroom.
Plan B deployed
Plan B was deployed. I had to shower and change again. Jon moved into action helping to prepare the meal. The children tended to the goat for the next hour.
Thankfully she went from unable to stand to standing on her own. She stopped arching her neck as well.
The children reported all was well when the goat took a whiff of my soaps curing on the shelf. The children laughed. The goat curled her lips in a negative reaction to the smell. I took a mental note not to use her as a sales representative. Still, she was not able to walk without staggering.
Guests began to arrive. It appeared that all was going well until one guest asked to go to the bathroom. Our guests knew we had two bathrooms. I warned them not to use the master bath else they would encounter a weak goat munching on hay.
Laughter rang out from our guests when I explained, “Jesus was born in a barn. It is only fitting that we have barn animals a part of our Christmas celebration today, right?”
Three weeks passed. Jessi returned to the herd. We found her at just the right time. I still do not know what caused her to bloat. The seven other goats in the herd were fine. Had any more time passed, she would have been dead.
The goat returns to the herd
God was merciful in allowing me the strength to do such a dreaded task. As a city girl gone country, I find myself doing things I never thought I could do. I am thankful she recovered, and we were still able to celebrate Christmas without a tragedy. The whole family worked well in the crisis. We were able to serve guests while checking on the recovering goat.
As always, there is never a dull moment on a farm. Adventure and trials go hand in hand. That was a Christmas we will never forget. I am sure my guests will not forget it either.
Is it hot where you live? Do you have a Christmas story in July that you would like to share? Share your stories about how you beat the heat in the comments below.