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Full Version: Goodbye, Sweet Nibsy...
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I made a terrible mistake tonight--a mistake that cost poor, brave Nibbles her life. I cannot sleep and so I write...

Phil and I were heading to bed around 10:30 when we heard coyotes howling near the house. I suddenly realized I had forgotten to turn on the electric fence when I put the goats to bed earlier. Phil went out to switch it on. When he opened the door, the coyotes sounded very close--much closer than usual. I went on the porch and I could see two of them slinking through the horse pasture in the moonlight, not far from the lower edge of the goat pen. Phil shined a light into the pen to check on the goats, but he did not see Nibbles among them. I threw on a bathrobe and slippers and joined him to look for her.

Phil found her lying at the bottom of the hill next to the fence. Brave little goat--she had gone down to protect the others. She had fought with the coyotes through the fence. I'm not quite sure how they killed her. Other than a couple of very minor punctures, she had only one wound on her throat from which she lost only a little blood. I suppose there could have been more internal bleeding than we could see, or perhaps she died of the shock. She was cold when we found her. I'm not sure why the coyotes had left her without eating, but I'm glad they hadn't started. We took her back to the house and put her in the garage where she couldn't attract more predators.

I fixed the fence in the moonlight. Then I sat and comforted little Nubbin, more for my own sake than for hers I think, and I reflected on what I had done. I'm horrified that I neglected such an important detail. We are fortunate that we only lost one goat. I know that anyone who raises animals is going to lose them eventually, but Nibbles is the first, and it was untimely. Most of all it hurts that it was my own fault.
Poor, brave little sweetheart. I'm so sorry you had to pay so dearly for my mistake. I will never forget your little pink nose and your kind, patient eyes. You were always the brave one--I'll never forget pulling you off that cliff you climbed down! You weren't even afraid of Cuzco! I know he's going to miss you. You were the only goat he liked. You two loved to butt heads together--the closest dignified old Cuzco ever got to playing.

You were such a sweet goat. You were not outwardly affectionate like Lilly--you were always more reserved--but you had a gentle, uncomplaining, and simple nature that made you easy to be around. You were the most patient of our goats, waiting in the back while everyone else got fed first, then coming to get your portion when it was your turn. You never complained about being last. I fondly called you "Sweetness."

Motherhood mellowed you. You were a good mother. You never worried or fussed over your baby, but you always protected her. I wish you could have had more. I can remember you when I look at Nubbin. She doesn't look much like you in most ways, but she does have the same striking black and white markings on her belly and the same bustling little waddle. You always looked like you were going somewhere important to take charge of the situation. Phil and I will miss your funny, purposeful march when we take our walks. Forgive me, dear Nibbles.
There are shotgun shells in the pocket of my bathrobe. It's five hours later and the coyotes are still howling at the bottom of the horse pasture. I've had the shotgun loaded and sitting by the door all night, but nothing close enough to shoot at. It's uncanny how they can be so far away and yet sound so close, and they make the creepiest sound.

I wish I had a dog. We've thought about getting one since last year, but I was kind of hoping we could wait until Cuzco is gone. He hates and fears dogs so much after his accident all those years ago that I've been concerned that he would leave home and never come back if we got one.

I do worry about the goats, though. Even if I hadn't forgotten the fence, there would be other nights during the winter when I wouldn't be able to turn it on because of the snow. Or if the charger had a problem or the battery died, I might have to wait some time to get it repaired. Nothing is foolproof, and I've often thought that it would be a good idea to have more than one "security system" in place. I don't care what Cuzco thinks about it--I'm going to start making some phone calls and trying to track down a good livestock guardian dog as soon as it's daylight. I won't sleep properly until I've got someone out there patrolling this property at night. The horses have been great at getting rid of the bears, but they totally ignore the coyotes. I've tried telling them to be more helpful in this department, but it hasn't left an impression. I should hope a dog would not be so indifferent.
oh, this is something that would be my worsest nightmare. So sorry!
Oh hell Nanno. This breaks my heart. I am so sorry. I know you are doing a lot of "if I had just" kinda thinking. Dont. It does no one any good. You didnt intend for it happen, and I would guess it never will again. Again, am so sorry.

Next snow fall, Id extract a large amount of revenge from the yotes...
Oh crap. I remember how she and Victoria had so much fun butting heads constantly at the Rendy! Super pretty girl.

I lost Gnibbley due to something I could have prevented. He looked fine after getting fixed, but ended up bleeding out and I found him in shock at 2:30 am. He didnt last much longer. I normally check on animals every 2 or 3 hours and I just got caught up in work late into the night that day. Also wondered if the dog smelled blood and messed with him somehow-- I remember thinking "keep the dog in tonight" then totally forgetting and letting her out. Even so it shouldnt' have bled like that but it did. When you know you could have saved the critter so easily if you were only aware it really hurts all the more. I know how you feel.

As for the coyotes... you know, the electric fence was never good enough to really trust. Dogs. You need 2 dogs, not just one. They need to be able to gang up on intruders. You dont need 'livestock guard dogs' particularly but you do need a breed that is big enough to handle itself in a fight. Cusco will learn to deal if you get pups. Of course now you're haulling dogs around AND goats when you go on a trip.

Anyhow, I feel terrible about Nibbles too. Hopefully she saves some goats in the future when we think back to the dangers of coyotes. Also rogue domestic dogs. Hopefully you start feeling better soon Smile
So sorry! If I lived closer, id come out and take revenge on them. Not sure what to recommend. Dogs are not always the answer. I've seen one come by and make like a friend to a domestic dog. Then have the whole pack gang up on it.

Of anyone, I'm sure you guys are taking this harder. You are such good parents and spend so much time with them. Closest thing I've experienced lately is loosing a 17 year old chihuahua. So I know how you feel. Don't beat yourself up.

Praying that you find peace quickly.

I surveyed the pen this morning and I see what happened. Since the power was off, one or two coyotes wriggled under it in a place where the ground was uneven. It (or they) fought with Nibbles down the length of the fence line. Then it got her down and dragged her to the place where it got in, but wasn't able to drag her under the fence into the brush. I think they gave up after that and left her because they didn't want to hang around inside a fence. Nibbles lost a lot more blood than I realized last night. It had pooled under the snow in the spot where the coyotes left her, leaving only two small spots on the surface. I feel sick about it.

Joe, your comment about the dog is one of the reasons I've not been so sure about getting one. I saw the neighbor's livestock guardian dog playing with the coyotes in the field next to ours one day. I don't know if she was in heat and trying to get bred, or if she was just bored, or what. She didn't get attacked, but she didn't drive them off either. On the other hand, I've seen the same dog run down foxes and other predators on different occasions. I've also hesitated because I've heard (and witnessed) too many horror stories where the LGD attacked the animals it was supposed to be guarding. A friend of mine recently shot both of her dogs (one of which was a Great Pyrenees) after they attacked one of her goats. There's just nothing foolproof, is there?
It's hard for any domestic dog to compete with professional killers. Especially when they are in a pack. I'd become good at calling coyotes and thinning the herd. Or put up a sign at the local feed store looking for a coyote hunter. Stress that you wish them to use shotguns. With large buckshot, 50 yards is reasonable range. I'd do it for you, but I'm too far away. Guys typically will do this for free, since they're getting private access.
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