It Was Clover in the Lounge with a Candlestick


The title of this post is indicative of black humor. This is not actually a humorous post. If you are in the mood for something funny today, try Bedtime Story or An Unfortunate Affair.

This is a farm and this is our journey. It’s not all pretty, and sometimes it’s sad. It’s real. That’s all I can promise.

One morning last week I went out to give cookies to the goats. Fanta really wanted one. She’s curious about me and my treats. She’s the braver of our two new girls. Sprite hangs back, waiting for Fanta to tell her if I’m okay. Fanta is the bold leader. She almost got a cookie, finally, but she hesitated a half-second too long and a chicken ran up out of nowhere, snatched it, and raced away.
I went back to the house then I realized Pepsi hadn’t come for a cookie. Pepsi always comes for a cookie. I went back to look for him.
I found him dead on the goat house porch.

I don’t know why. There was no warning. He looked like he just went to the porch, sat down…and died. He had been fine the day before, no apparent signs of illness. No coughing or runny nose, no diarrhea. His coat was healthy and he was eating. The only slightly odd thing I had noticed about him were moments when he seemed to stand oddly still. Goats don’t really just stand still. They’re looking around, eating, grooming themselves. I noticed repeated instances when he stood very still. I watched him, but there was no straining or crying, as would be if he had a stone, which I always worry about with a male. He’d just stand really still for a minute in a strange way then go on and act normal. I actually thought about calling the vet and saying, “My goat! He’s STANDING STILL!” But that sounded a little silly. And I couldn’t see anything wrong with him.

The day after I found Pepsi, it just so happened we were talking to a vet from the USDA about enrolling our farm in the federal scrapie program. Scrapie is a fatal degenerative disease in sheep and (more rarely) goats. (We don’t have any reason to believe Pepsi had scrapie–this was an unrelated event.) Scrapie is evidenced by signs such as excessive rubbing and scratching, lack of coordination, tremors, etc. It’s a disease of the central nervous system. The federal government operates a program to identify and track sheep and goats through assigning flock numbers to individual farmers and providing free genetic testing. (If you’re interested in enrolling your farm in the scrapie program, contact your local USDA office.) To our fortune, the vet became quite interested when he found out about our animals as we have such unusual breeds. He was particularly interested in our Jacobs and Fainting goats. Often, they just assign a flock number over the phone, but he said, “I want to come out and see those critters.”
And so the very next day after that, he was here. Usually, unless there is a specific reason to believe there is scrapie present in your flock, they start out by testing the ram(s). Mr. Cotswold enjoyed the whole process.
Scrapie has been found more often in Suffolk sheep than any other breed, so Annabelle got a test, too, as she is a Suffolk/Dorset cross.
We bent his ear about Pepsi, of course. And we told him about Honey, too. (What is it with boys? Why can’t we raise a boy here???) He listened. He examined each and every one of our goats. He even went over Jack and Pocahontas. He was here for two and a half hours. (I can’t imagine what an on-site veterinary visit of that length and extent would cost. This was FREE.)
Clover loved him.
He told us that when a goat dies suddenly, he looks at four main possibilities: parasites, stones, poison, or pneumonia.

We worm our goats regularly with a liquid wormer based on weight that was recommended by our vet. This was a wormer we only started using several months ago, so while animals may become immune to one type of wormer over time, we hadn’t been using this one very long. There’s always a possibility Pepsi wasn’t responding to this particular wormer. The other goats checked out good as far as parasites, though, so it seems unlikely Pepsi died due to that cause. His coat was healthy and he didn’t show other signs of having a dire parasite problem. As for stones, there was no crying in advance of Pepsi’s death. Stones are very painful. (When Honey had a stone, there was no doubt he had a problem that was hurting him! He wailed pretty loud and pretty often–I dosed him with vinegar and he recovered quickly.) The vet said he’s never known of a goat to die of stones without making a big fuss about it first. He felt comfortable ruling that out as a possibility. Could Pepsi have eaten something toxic in the environment? Again, not likely as we’ve been keeping goats in this same yard for over a year and we’ve been over it and know of no toxic plants here. Pneumonia is common in both fall and spring with seesawing weather changes. Young goats are particularly susceptible. In particular, interstitial pneumonia can bring down a goat in as little as 12 hours, with little to no symptoms. One of the few signs relating to interstitial pneumonia is an odd standing about, standing quite still, apart from the herd……
And yet we still don’t know why. Even after making a “federal case” out of it by having a federal vet evaluate our farm and our animals and our methods. Maybe it was Clover in the lounge with a candlestick. We are left with some suspicions of what may have taken him, regret over not following up on a nebulous gut instinct, but we don’t know for sure and won’t know for sure as it was too late by then to have a necropsy. (He also gave us the name and number of a USDA inspector who would come pick up an animal for us so that we can have a necropsy if this should ever occur again. The not knowing why is the worst part.)

As we have had such bad luck with bucks, I went through a small depression thinking I should just establish a goat nunnery.

Mother Cloveresa.
Sister Mary Nutmeg.
Sister Catherine Fanta and Sister Magdalena Sprite.
And yet…… That’s not going to get me any cheese. And so we went over everything with the vet, had him put his hands on each animal, discussed our housing and feeding and supplements and medications.
And were reassured and encouraged.

We will perservere.

Pepsi had a special relationship with Pocahontas. He spent more time with her than any of the goats. She liked to lick his ears. And he let her.
Nothing worth having comes easy. Especially a farm.
We love you, Pepsi.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 23, 2009  

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94 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 9-23

    I’m so sorry about Pepsi. Thank you for sharing your animals, your life and all your stories with us. Even when the stories are not cute and funny, you are the first blog I turn to every morning and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. 9-23

    :cry: :cry:

  3. 9-23

    crying! :cry:

  4. 9-23

    I’m so sorry! :cry:

  5. 9-23

    If you continue to keep animals you will lose a lot more in your life. Their lifespan isn’t the same as humans. Goodbye Pepsi, you were loved. Forget the nunnery, the girls will be coming in heat soon. Here’s to better health for the next buck.

  6. 9-23

    I am so very sorry for your loss.

  7. 9-23

    Crap! This is the part I hate about having and loving critters. Eventually you have a broken heart to put back together.
    Don’t give up on the bucks though… I’m anxiously looking forward to your posts about all of the kidding!

  8. 9-23

    I’m so sorry! :cry: But you’re right…’s a farm. Even those that just have dog and cats as their “farm” animals have to go through this. Don’t give up on the bucks…they need you, too! :yes:

  9. 9-23

    so sorry Suzanne and family!! that hardest part of loving animals is when they are gone…Don’t give up on the boys..I want to see some babies..

  10. 9-23

    Oh Suzanne! I’m so sorry about Pepsi. It’s never easy to lose an animal. :cry: :cry:

  11. 9-23

    Sorry about Pepsi. He died quietly. I think that is better than watching an animal suffer from being sick or hurt then die. You enjoyed and loved him while he was with you. You gave him a good home. That is part of farm life that would be the hardest for me.

  12. 9-23

    So sorry about Pepsi!

  13. 9-23

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Pepsi.

  14. 9-23

    Dear Suzanne,
    I read this, I cried.

  15. 9-23

    I am sorry about Pepsi. My best friend keeps Nigerian Goats in Va. She is constantly giving away boys. She doesn’t want them because they make the milk stink. Maybe a loaner buck? Then you could have a home for wayward goats instead of a convent. Sorry about the loss of a sweet goat though.

  16. 9-23

    So sorry for the loss of Pepsi, he sure was a handsome little goat. :cry:

  17. 9-23

    :no: RIP Pepsi. :cry:

  18. 9-23

    Have you started a pet cemetery? We have one on the family farm that was started in the 70’s. A few years ago, I even journeyed 380 miles to bury Max, a 200-pound St. Bernard, on the farm. I quickly built a “tear-stained” wooden casket to put him in for the trip home. I got more than a few looks from people with this human-sized wooden casket in the back of my pick-up truck. A cousin joked I should have tacked on a poster that said, “It’s just my husband.” My heart goes out to you in your loss of Pepsi. :cry:

  19. 9-23

    I’m so sorry you lost your Pepsi. He was so handsome.
    I have sheep and when one of them dies it is heart wrenching. There will be a new buck in your future.
    Your does will learn to love him, too.

  20. 9-23

    Awwww Suzanne – it’s never easy. After losing our wether Houdini, I felt the same way about the males. But I’ve had Tommy now for almost exactly a year.

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  21. 9-23

    And I meant to add to my post, that I’m thinking of you and appreciate your sharing!

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  22. 9-23

    I read this and I thought you were kidding. I’ve had wonderful fur-bearing family members die in such sad ways too. God bless you, Pepsi. :hug:

  23. 9-23

    I’m so sorry about Pepsi. It’s true–not knowing can be the worst. But sometimes things just happen. You’ve done everything right, and yet you can’t help wondering what if…. Sometimes when that happens we want to pull back from loving someone or somethnig new. And sometimes we just need a break. But I hope you don’t give up on the little bucks.

  24. 9-23

    Poor Pepsi. I’m sorry, it’s discouraging to loose an animal. We lost two little goats last year from a Mountain Lion, it was horrible. Don’t give up!

  25. 9-23

    Ahh..Dang it..not again!RIP Pepsi..Hang in there Suzanne!

  26. 9-23

    Aww so sorry to hear about Pepsi. It is always hard to lose an animal. We lost a lamb a few years ago to pneumonia. He was only noticeably sick for one day before he died it was very quick. Hope it is nothing that will spread to the others. :clover:

  27. 9-23

    So sorry to hear about your poor little Sprite.

  28. 9-23

    I too live on a farm [horse and cattle] and when one of our farm family member’s dies it’s always sad even worse when they die unexpectedly. My condolences go out to you and Pepsi’s fellow farm mates.

  29. 9-23

    So sorry about losing Pepsi. He was so beautiful. I bet Pocahontas is grieving. Hugs to you all.

  30. 9-23

    Sorry to hear about your cute little Pepsi. I hope you don’t give up on the boys though…I too am looking forward to seeing ‘kids’ running around your farm one day. Thanks for telling us about this and about the Federal Scrapie Program…never heard of it. Hope this day is a good one for you.

  31. 9-23

    That makes me so sad for you all! Thank you for sharing Pepsi and all your other wonderful creatures with us.

  32. 9-23

    Awwww, Suzanne :cry: When you get attached to those cute little boogers it makes it hard and how can we NOT get attached!?

  33. 9-23

    So sorry for your loss. During the hard times you start to question if it’s really worth it. But it’s just that we get our emotions tied so deeply into these animals. It’s frustrating to have no answer for both of these deaths, but hopefully it will end here. I know the trepidation you will have going out to check the animals for a while now after this. Take care of yourself and those critters!

  34. 9-23

    Good bye, Pepsi. We’ll miss you.

  35. 9-23

    I’m so sorry about Pepsi! It can’t be easy even when you tell yourself over and over that this will happen.

  36. 9-23

    RIP Pepsi! :heart:

    Yes, it is part of normal farm life, but the sense of loss is very real. If we get to share in the joys of your farm, we must also share your sorrows, Suzanne. We will all miss your Pepsi…

  37. 9-23

    Oh Suzanne, I’m so sorry about Pepsi, it’s hard to lose a friend!!

  38. 9-23

    Oh man…. :cry: :cry: So, so sorry.

  39. 9-23

    I love ALL your stories, Suzanne. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

  40. 9-23

    Awww, crap. Now I’m crying. Poor Pepsi! But yes, you shall persevere. Hugs to you, Suzanne.

  41. 9-23

    So sorry to hear about Pepsi. Thank you for sharing him with us he was so cute. I wish you better times.

  42. 9-23

    Ohhh, terribly sorry about your baby boy! But you are right. Nothing worth having comes easily. It will come though, and you will be an outstanding farmer on the other side of such tragedies.

  43. 9-23

    Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry about Pepsi. he was such a little cutie. Praying the next buck is more hardy.

  44. 9-23

    I’m so sorry Suzanne.

  45. 9-23

    Heavy heart sorry.You have certainly done all that you could do.
    A nice thing though,you have all those beautiful pictures for memories.

  46. 9-23

    Suzanne: So sorry about Pepsi. Your blog is my morning wake up, whether you’re sharin’ recipes or life stories, you make my day. Today I will join you in thinking about the life and passing of all of our animal loved ones. Thanks

  47. 9-23

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I know it’s part of raising livestock but that doesn’t make it any easier!

  48. 9-23

    Poor little Pepsi..that’s sad. I’m sorry you lost your little friend! :cry: :hug:

  49. 9-23

    So sorry to hear about little Pepsi. he was such a cute little goat – I loved the patterns of color on him. Hope you can have more success with another buck soon.

  50. 9-23

    It’s hard enough to lose an older animal but especially so with the young ones.

    I’m reminded of what a farmer told us years ago: “If you’re gonna have livestock, you’re gonna have deadstock.” A little brutal, but true.

    I still remember one of our goats, a milking doe, that we found dead one morning. Had an autopsy done, but even that failed to reveal what happened to her. Sometimes you just never know.

    So sorry about Pepsi.

  51. 9-23

    I so sorry Suzanne, for your lose of Pepsi. He will be missed by all the farm animals too.

  52. 9-23

    :cry: …I will keep you, your kids, 52 and your farm family in my prayers!So sorry to hear about Pepsi. He was absolutely adorable and No doubt quickly stole your heart. :heart:

  53. 9-23

    I’m so sorry for your loss, he was so adorable in the posts. With regard to the poison risk, could he have gained access to any mountain laurel or hemlock??

  54. 9-23

    Well dang it. I am so sorry Suzanne. Those words don’t even come close to conveying what I am feeling but they will have to due for now.

  55. 9-23


    can’t even type thru tears :cry:

  56. 9-23

    :no: hang in there…….

  57. 9-23

    I’m so very sorry. He was so sweet.

  58. 9-23

    I am so sorry about Pepsi. I do believe we’ll see them all again someday. One of the first goats we had died in a similar manner and the only symptom was standing too still. I learned to trust my gut instinct after that. But even if we had taken her to a vet, I doubt he would have found it. We had a post-mortem done. She had a diaphragmatic hernia. I would bet that Pepsi had something similar – a congenital defect. There would have been no way to know about it or essentially anything you could have done about it. Rest in peace, sweet Pepsi.
    Your USDA guy was amazing, so kind.

  59. 9-23

    So sorry….loosing animals is hard… :no:

  60. 9-23

    :cry: So sorry to hear the bad news. :cry: Can you tell if Pocahantas or any of the others miss him?

  61. 9-23

    So sad about precious Pepsi :cry: …However I prefer to think that what may have taken him from us was the beauty of hie two awaiting brides, “yabba dabba do” may not have been strong enough words to describe the anticipatory desire he had in his tiny little heart for the both of them.
    So perhaps his little heart just exploded with love at the thought of not 1 but 2 such lovelies.

  62. 9-23

    I’m so sorry, Suzanne. He sure was an adorable little guy.

  63. 9-23

    Awww, that sucks! I’m sorry y’all lost a family/farm member. :cry:

  64. 9-23

    I am so sorry about Pepsi! We lost our little Joshie awhile back from encephalitis. We found out that she had been sneaking through a hole in the fence and eating the layer chicken feed which is a huge no no for goats. We also lost one of our babies last week because of the position it was being born in. We live and learn. I now know not to let any of the goats get to any of the chicken feed at all and after a lot of reading I now know how to reposition babies that are coming the wrong way and possibly save them.

    We are milking the momma who lost the baby and I have been making goat cheese. I posted about it on my blog today. We are loving it.

  65. 9-23

    I was so very sorry to hear of your loss. I think everyone had fallen in love with Pepsi.

  66. 9-23

    Oh, so sad. Very sorry to hear about little Pepsi. When I was growing up, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with my stepfather who was a large animal veterinarian– we would travel to farms and dairies all over the place and I was able to see all kinds of great things. But of course there was plenty of death and sadness too. That all comes with the farming life, doesn’t it. All part of the circle of life.

    Too bad about your little Pepsi though.

    take care,


  67. 9-23

    I am so sorry. He was such a pretty little fella.

  68. 9-23

    I’m so sorry. I would make a lousy farmer. I have a friend that breeds maltese and I don’t know how many dogs and puppies she’s lost but it’s her business so she seems to be okay with it.I would love to work in a shelter but I know from experience I wouldn’t handle it well.

  69. 9-23

    Be careful about registering your farm with the USDA. You may want to read about the proposed NAIS (National Animal Identification) System. It may or may not be to your advantage to register your farm for scrapie, but certainly do your homework and read about it online before registering.

    So sorry about your beautiful boy.

  70. 9-23

    major bummer. RIP Pepsi.

  71. 9-23

    Oh sadness :cry: :cry: :cry:

  72. 9-23

    How long is too long for a necropsy?

  73. 9-23

    So sorry for your loss Suzanne my sympathies go out to you and your family.

  74. 9-23

    Such sad news! I hope that Pocahontas will transfer her affection for Pepsi to the new little goats.

  75. 9-23

    Pepsi’s in Goat Heaven, God Bless you sweetie! :sheep:

  76. 9-23

    I’m so sorry to hear about Pepsi. He was a beautiful boy. But I’m glad to hear all the other animals checked out fine.

    When I bought my first bullmastiff, Boo, the bredder told me to be hyper-vigilent about her personality quirks because bullmastiffs have such a high tolerance for pain. She said the minute I see the slightest difference in personality that I should race the dog to the vet.

    I dismissed it & didn’t give it a second thought.

    Until one day when walking Boo she suddenly stopped in her tracks & laid down on the ground. Something she never did & suddenly the breeder’s words came rushing back to me.

    I left Boo there while I grabbed the keys, pulled the car around, loaded her 125 lb. butt up & raced to the emergency vet.

    By the time we got there, Boo was her usual happy, smiling self & the ER vets looked at me like I was crazy. “This is the healthiest dog we’ve seen all day!”

    I stood my ground & made them run a blood test on her. They shook their heads & gave me all kinds of weird looks. But in the end, the blood results showed that a liver enzyme was through the roof & that if it was controlled quickly she could die.

    It was then that I really learned…always trust your gut – no matter what anybody thinks of it.

    Much love from an overseas Army wife,

  77. 9-23

    I’m so sorry! Thank you for sharing. We, your readers, love you and we’re with you!

  78. 9-23

    So sorry that Pepsi is gone. He was adorable. Hang in there, Suzanne.

  79. 9-23

    I’m so sorry Suzanne, 52 and the family. RIP Pepsi. :cry:

  80. 9-23

    I’m not sure, but this had been two days.

  81. 9-23

    Oh, Suzanne, I am so very, very sorry about your little Pepsi. I sat reading this with tears in my eyes. You gave Pepsi a good life and shared your cookies with him. You’re such a good farm mom! Now you need to get another little boy goat so Pocahontas has a buddy. Blessings to you!

  82. 9-23

    sorry to hear this Suzanne.Little dude left us too soon.

  83. 9-23

    Dang!!! You made me cry. I have such a soft spot for animals and it is obvious you are a nurturing and kind soul. Your Pepsi was a beautiful goat. You are right, nothing worth having comes easy. I’ll have to remind myself that when something happens to one of my cats. I hope your heart heals soon!! Love your blog, thanks for sharing your farm with us.

  84. 9-23

    Well this is the second time trying to post today. I just can’t type with tears. Your critters have gotten better food and more healthcare than my family has gotten for the past 3 years. Some animals are meant to make us happy for just a while , then they go to heaven. Hugs. :butterfly:

  85. 9-23

    The tears just roll as if Pepsi belonged to our family. My children and I thought he was just the sweetest little guy and looked forward to seeing him at the party. Our deepest sympathy to your family and extended family of animals.

  86. 9-23

    I am so sorry to hear of Pepsi’s passing. I didn’t read all of the comments so someone may have already suggested this. I don’t know anything at all about goats or sheep but we had a dog once that did the same thing as Pepsi – just out of the blue she would stand very still. The vet told us she was having seizures. She didn’t have them very often though. Do goats have seizures?

  87. 9-23

    I am so sorry about your loss of Pepsi. You may never know what killed him but I have known two goats that died of stones without uttering a sound but both were obviously sick so I would tend to believe it was a defect of some sort in his sweet little body. If it was something he ate there would probably be some evidence of that in the form of vomit and diarrhea.
    I too have lost several animals lately and know just how you feel but I wouldn’t ever not have my little farm because while I had them they lived a very good life…just like Pepsi. And what more could an animal want?

  88. 9-24

    I am just cathcing up with the blog….I am so so so sorry for the loss of your little boy. {hugs}

  89. 9-24

    That is so sad about Pepsi! He was beautiful fellow! Don’t give up. Please keep trying. For your own sake, giving up would be very disheartening and discouraging for you and your family. Its important that you succeed at any endeavor, no matter how long you try.

    Never give up.

  90. 9-25

    I’m so sorry for your loss. That Pepsi was a handsome fella, and he’ll be missed…even by some folks who never met him.

  91. 9-25

    So sorry for your loss …..
    He shall deffinately be remembered.

  92. 9-26

    Just got back and am catching up on the posts. So sad about Pepsi!

  93. 10-11

    Oh poor Pepsi, and you all. x

  94. 10-19

    And he just got his brides!!!


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