We could have been accused of being a little bit smug down here in Patouland. Eight healthy cria, eight healthy mothers, all brown apart from one medium fawn girl. Yes, it was all going swimmingly. All going swimmingly that is until yesterday when there was a bit of a flap on here.
I missed the beginning of the drama as I had been selfishly enjoying myself on a twelve hour night shift at Stonehenge until 8 o'clock on Tuesday morning. As a result I was in a deep sleep upstairs as things unfolded. Sue was downstairs and was dealing with the beginnings of a bit of a crisis. I was awoken after a couple of hours by the dogs barking and spoke to Sue who had just returned from the field. She was not happy with one of the cria. One of the neighbours had alerted her to a cria lying alone at the bottom of the field. They had approached and the cria was motionless. Sue had approached and found Woody, who had now been joined by his mother Minstrel. Sue touched him and he had got up and run off with Minnie. But Sue for some reason was not happy (I love that woman!) and decided to investigate further. His symptoms were that he was lethargic and getting more and more lethargic. In fact to cut a long story short he began to stand with his head hanging to the ground. Not sniffing or anything, it was as if his head was too heavy for him. Sue took his temperature and it was 38.8, a touch high. He then collapsed. Sue carried him to the shed and he was limp and lifeless. The vet was called and was on her way.
When Sue got Woody into the shed he seemed to come round and had a feed. The vet arrived and he was checked over thoroughly, his temperature was within the normal range (36.8 - 38.6) he was a little bit crackly in the chest but otherwise he was fine, there was nothing obviously wrong. He appeared to rally round and the vet left telling Sue to call her back if there was any worsening of his condition.
This was when I was roused, tired and grumpy from bed.
Shortly after the vet leaving Woody had collapsed again and was now unconscious. Sue couldn't rouse him and his breathing had become laboured. The vet was on her way back. His temperature was now 39.4 and he was totally unresponsive. I have never seen a cria like this before. From being a healthy, strong cria he was apparently about to leave us, scary, scary moment and I was flapping like a very flappy thing as we waited for the vets arrival.
When she arrived his temperature was just under 40 and he was struggling for breath. He needed drugs and he needed them fast. The theory was that he had some sort of infection and that was causing his high temperature. He needed the drugs to be administered intravenously for quick and maximum effect.
At this point the vet asked if we had any clippers to shave an area on his neck so that she could find a vein. This is the first time in my life that my silly little beard has come in useful. For because of my silly little beard, I have silly little beard clippers. I was sent for them. I hurried back up the hill to the house and ran back down (when I say 'ran' I don't want you to mistakenly conjure up a 'Seb Coe' or 'Ussain Bolt' image, more of a prolonged stumble really) and delivered said clippers which were immediately put to use. 1ml of Baytril (antibiotic) and 0.5ml of Finadyne (anti-inflammatory) were administered. The vet was not optimistic, Woody was flat out, unresponsive and struggling to breath, she said that she thought that we were going to lose him. The mood was pretty sombre.
We left them alone hoping the drugs would have some effect and went back to the house. The vet disappeared off to her next job and Sue and I discussed what had happened and what we could learn from the situation.
After half an hour Sue went down to check on things. I remained at the house, I don't know why, I can't remember, I was pretty tired. I remember what happened next though, with crystal clear clarity. A sexy ladies voice from my mobile piped up 'Commander you have a new message at your private terminal', I know, I know it's silly but I like it. Sue had sent me a text message from the shed at the bottom of the field. I stared at my phone. Initially I didn't want to look at the message. I was pretty sure it was bad news and I didn't want to hear it. After a few seconds I sighed and picked up the phone.
This is what the message said: 'Having a feed!'. I couldn't believe it!
How that little fellow pulled himself back from what was apparently death's door I don't know, well obviously it was the drugs but come on, what a turnaround! Since then he has improved steadily and when I got home from work this afternoon we gave him more Finadyne and Baytril, we also weighed him. He has put on half a kilo since this time yesterday. We are by no means out of the woods yet but we have found the path and we are heading for the wide open spaces!