Monday, February 21, 2011
Not A Good Day
Lucy had spent the below-freezing night in the shed, unable to make it to her stall, and I knew how I'd find her yesterday morning. Just shows how much I know, because she was standing in the warming rays of the sun when I went down to the barn. She ate a good breakfast of grain and slowly toddled up the hill to the water trough and alfalfa. While milking the last goat, I saw her drop, and thought, "Well, at least she went with a full tummy." And I was wrong again. She hadn't died. I had the barn and milk to tend, but then went out to wait with her. Lucy and I have had a special bond. I've been with her when each of her kids was born, sometimes dozing in the straw with her while the pains were still far apart. She would always put her head in my lap and listen while I would tell her that, after four Kids of my own, I truly understood what she was feeling, don't be afraid, and it would be over soon. It seemed only right that I be with her yesterday, and I spent hours by her side, telling her much the same thing. If I had to go back to the house, she would whicker softly and her ears would follow me. She seemed unable to move anything else. I could only beg her to just let go...close her eyes and go to sleep, and it would all be over. Some of the other girls would come and paw or tug at her legs, wanting her to get up. I know I attribute human emotions to the animals, but Nineteen stayed by my side the whole time I was in the pen, not pestering, but resting his head on my shoulder or in my lap, gently mouthing my jacket collar, or just standing with his shoulder against mine while I stroked Lucy's neck. If that isn't sympathy, then I don't understand sympathy. I had decided that if Lucy were still in this condition at sundown, I would do what had to be done for my dear old girl to release her. I just couldn't do it while the other goats were out and watching. I checked with a friend so that I had the right caliber and knew the correct placement, and I prayed for strength to do it, and do it right. I've always felt that if one were to have animals, one needs to accept full responsibility to do whatever is necessary...but I didn't want to do this. The sun and the temperature started to drop. I tucked the chickens inside their houses and went to put the goats to bed...and Lucy was gone! I know I did a classic double take. How could she be gone? Where could she have gone? She hadn't stood or moved all day, but somehow in that short interval she had gotten up and walked back to the shed. Always the lady, the queen, she had spared me. This story isn't going to have a happy ending, but it didn't end yesterday.