In the Schools: Ledyard Love, a goat story

Kevin and Vicky DiFilippo were in a jam preparing for a weekend family party, so on Thursday, May 9, they decided to hire someone to help them clean up the yard.

Later, Vicky went out to the barn to check on the goats, and they were all throwing up, knocking their heads against the wall and frothing at the mouth. The goats had eaten poisonous trimmings placed in the goat pasture.

All four goats were pregnant and due within a month. That night, a veterinarian from Mansfield provided medication and IV fluids, but did not have enough IV bags.

As the goats’ condition worsened the next day, Kevin DiFilippo, who works for the Department of Children and Families, reached out to the Ledyard Community Forum Facebook page asking for some positive thoughts. Vicky, a teacher at Three Rivers Community College, was heartened at the response.

“Cindy Eilenberger from Ledyard C.H.A.I.N. (Citizens Helping Animals in Need) provided six bags of IV fluids to the goats,” she said.

The bags were from a family whose son had cancer a year ago and subsequently died. “We were able to get the fluids into the goats that night,” Vicky said.

Other responders included Laura Kelly and Teri McHale, members of the community who have experience with pregnant goats.

“They have been amazing,” Kevin said, “the whole community has just been incredible.

Neighbors Sarah and Paul Riquier helped around the clock with 2 a.m. feedings and checking night check-ins.

Vicky said Grace the goat was the worst off.

“She couldn’t stand for about two weeks,” Vicky said. “We were really nervous about her because once an animal can’t stand for that long, you start to wonder if she ever will.”

Lt. Zach Willis and Wayne Swan from the Ledyard Fire Department helped set up a pulley system to get physical therapy started for her so she could stand up.

Ben Hewes helped and would hold up the IV fluids for the goats. It was about a week later that Grace showed signs of going into labor.

“We were super nervous about that because it was early for her to have her babies and also she couldn’t stand up,” Vicky said.

Norwichtown Veterinary Hospital took Grace, delivered in a wheelbarrow, to stay overnight on May 14. The veterinarian, Dr. Geoffrey Satterfield, would text Kevin every day at 6:30 in the morning to give him updates.

Suddenly it happened: Grace had twins, and Kevin had to assist. Kevin said he hadn’t considered himself a farmer until that night.

“You get into this zone and you realize that this animal, this life is struggling and may die,” he said. “So you do everything you can, and then there was Ledyard Love.”

Ledyard Love was the one baby goat to survive. She was the first to come out.

“We had to prepare the children when Grace went into labor because we knew it was too soon,” Vicky said. “We told the kids that probably some of the baby goats were not going to make it. In just one night our children were experiencing life and death.”

They had a tragic night, losing baby goat after baby goat. Ledyard Love had been a twin, and the twin did not make it.

At the exact moment that Kevin was delivering Ledyard Love, Zazu went into labor a month before her due date. Zazu had triplets, and two died shortly after birth, but Zeus was still holding on.

Kevin’s son Luca and Zeus bonded. Kevin wrote on Facebook that the doctor said he had never seen a goat so small.

Unfortunately, a couple of nights later Zeus passed away.

A night later, Nala had twins and neither one made it.

Vicky sighed deeply, “But then we had hope because Grace was finally able to stand up and we had Ledyard Love to fill us with love and we were focusing on that.”

Meanwhile, Lily, also extremely ill, was holding on and getting stronger. “Every day we knew that was better odds for her babies”, said Kevin.

Lily was due to deliver June 4, but instead delivered Thursday, May 30. Vicky went out to bottle feed Ledyard Love when she discovered small newly born twins on the floor, Jinny and Ziggy.

They are now healthy and in good condition. Three out of the 10 baby goats survived.

Since all the goats had now delivered, the DiFilippos could concentrate on medicating the adult goats for parasites and worms they ingested with the toxins in the plants.

Unfortunately, Grace and Lily had still not attached to their babies, so the DiFilippos were bottle feeding every three hours. But the DiFilippos expect full recovery of the goats.

Their neighbor, Sarah Beth Riquier, has started a Go Fund Me page for the DiFilippo family to help with the cost. The veterinary bills are over $4,000.

One local landscaping company heard about the story and offered to get rid of all the poisonous plants for free. The same company donated $250 to the Go Fund Me account.

“More than anything, it was the thought that really touched me, and that’s the whole thing from the community that has really touched me,” Vicky said.

Kevin agreed.

“I was at the dump the other day dropping stuff off and the man working there takes your license and he said to me, ‘Hey, you’re the goat guy!’ He was so kind and considerate and asked how our goats are doing. It’s very moving to be in a town like this.”

Vicky said there must have been 30 people helping out the night Ledyard Love was born. “Most of them I didn’t even know,” she said. “Somebody showed up with heat lamps, someone else showed up with horse blankets. Our mailman came over too!”

On June 5 all three baby goats were at the Ledyard Farmers Market under the Ledyard C.H.A.I.N. tent to say hello to the community, visited by adults and children alike. Visitors were able to pick up the goats, take pictures, cuddle and show Ledyard love.

To contribute to the DiFilippos’ Big Red Farmhouse Goats GoFundMe page, visit gofundme.com/big-red-farmhouse-goats.

Aidan Schuler is a student at the Williams School in New London. He is part of the Times’ Young Journalists initiative.

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