Posted in farmlife, goatlife

It Was Fun Until I Stepped on the Yellow Jackets’ Nest

When the vet came out for a herd check in September, I took a day off from work so that I could catch animals and give the goats their CDT shots. This annual vaccine prevents against tetanus and an overeating disease (enterotoxemia). At that point  the vet told me to give a booster after  4 weeks, then plan to revaccinate annually. Each month, we also check their famacha score, monitor for intestinal worms, and give deworming medicine quarterly. That’s our “worming protocol”. 

We planned the October booster for  weeks. We added a new catch chute, strategized and successfully completed a walk through the chute without issue. Goat vaccine day arrived and my friend Cynthia came by with her teenage daughters to help round up the goats. 

My rule to the girls, “don’t get hurt” was said too late.  The eldest backed into the electric fence and shocked herself.The youngest got stuck in he woods in between the long briars. And the middle, she followed me into the woods and got stung twice by yellow jackets. 

During the goat roundup first pass, Faith Hill followed me through the chute and stood for her shot. Vera Wang and Rita Rudner were fairly cooperative. Betty  White escaped and vomited in a panic. Julie Andrews gave chase. Sam, Queen Lillian and Mary Poppins were decent, but Connie Francis made the afternoon into a full scale goat-hunt. We followed them into the woods, and  I stepped off he trail into a yellow-jackets’ nest.  The first 3 stings on my elbow felt like razor blades. Then, I screamed, C screamed and ran from the woods. A sting on my chest left me saying a bad word and a quest to find the  gas can. 

Those goats could wait long enough for Kelly and I to kill the nest. We retraced our steps. Kelly found the small opening in the ground where foraging yellow jackets flew in and out. I poured gasoline on the hole. Kelly received a sting on the arm. He poked the ground. I slapped at my knee and felt more stings on my arm and leg.  

We left the nest and tried once more to capture Betty White and Connie Francis. Successfully, Connie Francis came through the chute, and I managed to give her a shot with two people holding her.  At that moment, Betty White escaped a second time and I called the event to an end. I said, “well, if she dies, I’ll dig a hole” knowing fully that if she can be held for 5 minutes I can vaccinate her. She escaped twice that week and I did not feel like adding to her anxiety by continuing the chase. 

My forearm throbbed. Four stings on my already sore arm (tennis elbow from goat wrestling  the previous month), one sting on my chest and one on my leg made me the winner with 6 total stings. At the end of the day, the girls said that they had a good time…minus the shocking, getting lost in the briar patch, and enduring stings by yellow jackets.

The next night, Kelly and I checked the nest. It was dead and quiet.He dug out the bottom layer full of eggs. We refilled the cantelope-sized hole it dirt so that we wouldn’t break an ankle accidentally stepping into it. 

Goat ownership, with its scheduling and pasture management, is like tinker toys …limited only by imagination and financing. It’s all fun and games until a goat fails to cooperate or somebody steps on the yellow jackets’ nest. 

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