Monday, February 22, 2010


I know that I just have to write this post. I have to get it out of my head, so that I can get on to other things. I left you all hanging about the Valentine party, but that's only because it was overshadowed by other things, so I'll get back around to it. But I have to write this first and stop avoiding it.

So here goes.

We lost one of our beloved family milk goats over the weekend. And we're sad about it.

Wow, that really doesn't sound like much when I say it that way. She was only a farm animal, after all. People loose farm animals all the time.

I've had animals my whole life. I know how things go with animals. I've also always gotten very attached to these animals. I can't help it.

I consider myself a country kid and somewhat hardened to the "facts of life", so to speak. I'm well acquainted with all those earthy things of nature, including death. But death and pain are unnatural-- not at all what we were created for. And even though I well know that sin is the cause of death and pain and so are unavoidable in this world, and even though I've seen it so many times, it always saddens me, even when death is intentional such as in slaughtering an animal raised for meat.

In this case, I feel worse about it because it was so sudden, and so completely opposite of what I was expecting.

And it was an animal who was very special to us.

I wrote about Cappuccino last summer after we brought her here. We quickly came to love her. She was just so sweet and accommodating. Almost human, really. Soulful. One of those rare animals who is just so laid back and eager to please and pleasant to be around. Most goats are at least a little mischievous and troublesome, but Cappuccino was never irritating or frustrating. It was like she just understood everything, all the time. She was so gentle, she'd let Jonah climb all over her and ride her, and the even the chickens had recently taken to roosting on her back to warm their feet. She was just tolerant of everything.

All last week we were anxiously awaiting the birth of her kids (she was so wide that we were just sure there had to be multiples in there). She was overdue, so we were checking on her frequently, day and night, so that we could make sure to be there when she gave birth. We wanted to make sure everything was okay and that the kids got warmed up right away.

But when it finally happened, it was bizarre and somewhat nightmarish. I've been through lots of kiddings-- most of the time they're just fine, once in a while there are problems, but I've never seen anything like this. The kid was in a terrible (and very unusual) position, and already dead by the time I figured it out. I couldn't move him, hard as I tried. We begged help of a kind neighbor, whom we didn't even really know prior to this but she was a friend of a friend and very experienced with goats and sheep. She couldn't reposition this kid, either.

We were very frustrated and worried, but Cappuccino was still doing okay, so we decided to take her to the vet for help. That, however, was just asking too much of her sweet tolerance, and I wish we had been more merciful at that point. I know I would have second-guessed making that call, but it would have saved her so much suffering.

I'll spare you the gory details, because believe me, it was gory. The vet couldn't turn the kid, either, and it took drastic measures to get him out. There was just one very big kid (which has always been my horror for any kidding-- it's always better if there are two or three because they don't grow quite so big; especially with a big, healthy and well-fed mama).

We brought Cappuccino home. She was hurting and in shock. We made her as comfortable as possible in the barn with a thick bed of clean straw and a blanket and heat light to keep her warm. We gave her strong antibiotics to fight possible infection and I started dosing her with everything I could think of to try to help her start healing. I knew that it's never a good sign when a goat can't or won't get up (in fact, I've never had an animal live long past that point), but her head was up, so I was hopeful.

This, of course, all happened the day that I had planned for the party. We got home from the vet's around 1:00, and I still had to get the house cleaned up, along with nursing my sick goat. I was exhausted and sore from working so hard to get move that kid and from being outside in the cold all day. But I tried not to worry and decided to just enjoy my company, even if the house wasn't as clean as I wanted it to be.

All day Saturday I kept checking on her and giving her things to try to help her. An experienced friend came and brought some medicines for her and gave me good advice. But by mid-afternoon, I noticed that she took a turn for the worse. I said a prayer that if she was going to die anyway, that it would be soon so that she would not suffer anymore. The next time I went out, my friend was with me again to check on her, and Cappuccino was gone. We don't think she died of infection-- it seems more likely that her injuries were just too extensive.

And she was just an animal, right? Yeah, but I just hated to see her suffer. I'm so sad that it all went that way. And I miss her.

Also, we now have the problem of only having one goat, and goats hate being alone. They're herd animals, and are only content in a herd of at least two. I'm a little afraid that Opal will start getting into trouble (she's very clever with gate latches and such) or go off her feed and start moping. Last night when I gave her some grain, she started eating it as fast as she could, and then automatically whipped her head around to look behind her as if expecting Cappuccino to be there trying to steal her grain. (We called Cappuccino "the vacuum cleaner" with good reason.) So now Opal needs a buddy, and it was just last summer that I spent so much time looking for my ideal milkers and they were very hard to find. I'm just loathe to start that process again.

So she was only an animal, but we all just miss her. And I just can't get over how awful it was. It just makes me wonder why I do this, why I put myself through this, why I don't just give up and avoid the frustrations of raising animals.

I guess it's just in my blood.

And I probably do get unduly attached. Animals are just "stuff", too, and we shouldn't hold "stuff" too dearly. I know that God blesses and afflicts as He sees fit, and He never sends anything that isn't good for us.

Maybe this all sounds melodramatic, but I am an oversensitive sort, after all. I do feel better for writing it, anyway, and maybe now it won't bug me so much. It was a learning experience, I know, and I've had lots of those and will have lots more, I'm sure. All those "should-haves" that keep pestering me --should have checked her earlier, shouldn't have taken her to the vet, should have done this or that differently-- well, in the future, I'll know.


  1. Blog hopped here via your homeschooling in your profile, and so sad to hear about your goat! I love goats milk, but we don't live where I can have one of my own. I have chickens, but I don't think the neighbors would be happy with a goat, too. ;) However, there are a lot of great people local who provide us with fresh milk. Good stuff! I know animals are just animals but gosh darnit, they can become kind of like family, too. :/
    Enjoying your blog, and currently drooling over those chocolate heart shaped cookies a few posts down. Uhhh, yum!!

  2. Yes, they are "stuff", but they are also living creatures with personality, intelligence, and emotions. So I think they are a step up from our other possessions and it's only natural to grow attached and feel sad when they die.

  3. It's almost a reenactment of what happen to Poppy, only Poppy survived. Poppy was just a yearling when she got pregnant. It was a single and she probably labored for a day or two before I noticed (little noob is me). Thank goodness for Mrs. B who came over and was able to try to turn the baby. Poor baby had been dead for a while, but it was turned so that was folded on itself so that it's head and all four legs were pointing in one direction, and the folded end was sticking... out.... I still don't know how poor Poppy survived that one.

    Anyway, it's terrible what happen to your goat, but I totally know what it's like... So sad. I can only hope that there will be animals in heaven, then they wont die...

  4. NO shoulds from me, just a big hug. I am sorry you lost your sweet friend. Animals are God creatures and should( whoops that's a should) be loved. It probably hurts more that you are expecting a child too. One mother to another, that kind of empathy. Special animals do come into our lives and it's wonderful that we recognize them. How sad when people don't even notice a special gift from God. God knows your heart, He made you like you are and at just the right time He will bring you another goat. Sometimes we have to wait a while. It takes time to heal.

  5. Thanks for writing this....made me cry....I thank you for stopping by my blog and passing on some of your advice....

    I love my goats....and only want to do right by them.....thanks again for passing on some goat mentoring advice....I need to read on to see if you got Opal a friend....