Yesterday I realized hiking to milk is really nothing in the big scheme of things. I got a wake up call as to what's really important. As I entered the milking barn I discovered Jaz, my 21 year old donkey, down and unable to get up. She has terrible arthritis in her front legs and very little range of motion in them. I don't know if she strained something slipping in the snow or what but something caused her to go down. Luckily she chose a nice warm heavily bedded shelter to rest. I tried bribing her with food and pushing on her from her back but she stayed put. I called the vet and was very lucky he could come out on such short notice. They're very busy this time of year (I was told when he got here) pulling calves and dealing with prolapses, etc. He squeezed me in on his way to pull a calf. He brought with him a syringe of whatever it is they use for euthanasia, along with pain meds after hearing my description of Jaz's condition. He took her temperature, which was low because she'd been down a while. Next we put a halter on her and with a rope pulled her up. It went way better than either of us expected. After administering Banamine (pain meds) we massaged her one leg to get some circulation back in it. It was very dangly. The vet said after looking at her he was feeling very optimistic so I felt equally so. I watched her during the day limping around like she wanted to move. I was hopeful.
This morning I got my binoculars out and looked into the field to see if I could find her. I could see everyone else but her. I hiked to the barn and found her down again. I called James and asked if he'd
come help me get her up. Unfortunately she was so close to a post of the barn it was hard to maneuver her without her getting wrapped up with it. We rolled her over twice hoping to get some momentum to get her to rise on her own. No go. I finished my milking and other feeding and went back to the house. Later I looked out the window and saw she'd gotten up and was hobbling around. I was thrilled only to be disappointed later when I found her down, this time lying in the snow. I knew she had fallen because of her position and because she didn't choose a shelter.
Again James came down to help me pull on her to no avail. I felt defeated. I gave her an apple and another dose of Banamine in hopes I could relieve her pain and she'd want to get up. Before dusk she was still down and I covered her with a blanket and surrounded her with hay. I don't know what I'll find tomorrow.
There are so many things I love about raising livestock/animals/pets, but then there are times like this when, as I type about them, I have a lump in my throat. I'm worried I'll have a tough decision to make tomorrow.