Apart from actually losing and missing the animal, I think one of the hardest things to deal with after it dies is your own ability to be a caretaker. These were some of the thoughts that went through my head after we learned that Fiona had died, as well as when I lost two goat kids last year at birth.
Who am I to be keeping goats?
I don't know enough to do a good job taking care of them.
I didn't grow up with goats.
Maybe she/he wouldn't have died if I had done _____.
I don't know what I'm doing.
Maybe I should let someone else take care of goats.
How could I possibly know how to do everything right?
It's too overwhelming.
Our best guess of why Fiona died is that it was something pregnancy-related. I spent several hours looking things up on the internet to guess what it might have been, the major problem being that there were no symptoms beforehand. In the end, we couldn't pinpoint a certain cause. I was doing my best to take care of her, and I can't think of anything I would have done differently that might have prevented her death. The sad news is that sometimes animals die. We have to learn from it, if possible, and then move on.
Calling the Vet
Because we had no clue why she died, I considered having the vet out to do an autopsy. I thought maybe that would be a good way to prevent the others from getting sick/dying if I knew what it was.
I grew up on a farm, but have never arranged a vet visit myself. I thought this would be a good time to see what it costs and what some of the procedures are during a vet visit.
When we called the vet service, the lady said that they were off hours but she could have one of the actual Dr's. call us back. While we waited for that call, Hubs contacted a goat-owning friend of ours to get her advice from an owner's point of view. She told us that the vet may or may not find out what it is, and will probably ask if we wanted to send some samples to the lab. This would mean that we wouldn't know right away what it was. If there truly was some kind of invisible, deadly animal disease going around (my worst fear), the lab work wouldn't come back in time to save the rest of my goats.
A little while later, the vet called us back. Their regular charge for a call is $45 (what I expected), but since Fiona died on a weekend it would considered an "emergency call" and billed out at $90. The vet said it would probably take about 45 minutes to cut her open and talk about better farming practices. After adding the cost of his time onto the initial fee, our total would come to about $200. This would not include the lab fees for sending in samples, if we chose to do that.
I might have paid the $200+ if there were a possibility of saving the animal, but unfortunately Fiona was already gone. The time required to send samples and get results would defeat my purpose of "saving the other animals" from the invisible deadly goat disease. Because of this we chose not to do an autopsy. And as much as I respect a veterinarian's opinion, I wasn't in a good mental state to hear about better farming practices on that particular day.
Thankfully all of the other goats are doing well, and I know this is just one step in my journey of being a goat owner.