Hard lessons learned.

03/29/2010 at 1:37 pm 22 comments


They say that you’re not a real farmer until you’ve had a birth and a death on your farm.  I’m saddened to find myself halfway there.   On Saturday afternoon, little Pedey passed away.   I am completely heartbroken.

Pedey 3/10/10

Little Pedey has always been small and frail and weaker than the other goats, and because of that I’ve felt very protective of him.  Unfortunately, as a new goat owner I missed some important signs of how really weak he was.  Goats have an amazing ability to hide their weakness, and I didn’t see the signs for what they were until last weekend. 

I noticed that he was really weak and skinny, and thought that he just needed to get some probiotics into him, to get his rumen working again, and get some weight on him.  So, I made up a little concoction of yogurt, liquid vitamins, herbal tonic and probiotic mix, and started drenching him with that 3x day.  I also gave him some homeopathic treatments.  He immediately perked up, started eating, started to put on some weight, I really thought he was improving and would be okay.  But, by Saturday he was down again, and he wouldn’t or couldn’t eat, even the yogurt mix that he had grown so fond of.  When I took his temperature expecting him to have a fever, it was really low instead.  I missed the fever, if he had one, altogether. 

I started the phone calls at that point, and couldn’t find my vet, or his covering vet, or that vet’s covering vet.  I tried to reach Susie Gibbs for advice, but the cell number didn’t work, and I couldn’t get my hands on the farm’s number (thanks rural living, no internet).  I did finally reach my friend Kim at Grandview Farm.  Her thought was to get some penicillin into him, and she kindly made up a needle with a few doses for me, and I drove out to her place to pick it up, an hour away.  I got home, found a message from a far flung horse vet (thanks to Nell at my dog’s vet) giving dosage info, and I gave him his first shot of penicillin.  Made him comfortable on a blanket, wrapped up in a down vest, separated from the rest of the goats with a little barricade and tried to get him to drink and eat.  He still couldn’t or wouldn’t.  At this point, I paged the horse vet, as she had suggested that I do, and she advised me that yes, I was doing everything that I could, but to be prepared that he still may not make it.  Goats hide their illnesses, and go downhill very fast once they are down and you notice.  Sure enough, within a couple of hours he had passed. 

It was heartbreaking, both watching him suffer, listening to his cries, and finding him after he had given in.  I haven’t cried like that in years.  I managed to clip some of his fleece with scissors and lots of tears.  But I knew that if I didn’t I would regret it one day.  As my Mom said, it was his last gift to me, and I couldn’t waste it.  That was a very difficult undertaking, and a few people offered to help me with it, but I know that death is part of the deal we make as animal caretakers, and I needed to find my own way to cope with that.  

On Sunday, Brad helped me carry his body up to the woods across from our house, where he will continue the circle of life, by providing nourishment to the ravens and their young, and feed the soil etc.  I know it sounds harsh, but it’s what the farmers around us have done for years and years, and the ground is still too frozen for burial.  We both wept as we left him there, it was the saddest walk in the woods I have taken to date. 

So, farming of any kind is full of lessons, some are harder to learn than others.  I’m hopeful that this experience will help me to develop a more discerning eye for the health of my herd.  I will pay closer attention to those small details, and act more swiftly to counter those changes.  The other goats appear to be healthy, normal temps, pink mucous membranes and eyes, good eating, drinking, pooping, and energy.  They don’t seem to notice Pedey’s absence too much, though I feel it accutely every time I step in the barn. 

I’m trying not to beat myself up about it.  I feel like I let little Pedey down, that  I should have done more, sooner, paid closer attention.  But, I know in my heart that I did my best, all I could do, and this time, it just wasn’t enough.  It’s part of the process, it hurts, but I know I’m growing from it. 

I thank all my friends and family who have been talking me through this the last few days.  I appreciate all your support, your kind words and thoughts, your prayers, and your encouragement.  I am sad, but will move ahead, and shower the rest of the herd, my dogs, and my husband with a bit of extra love on Pedey’s behalf.  Someday I’ll use his fleece to make something really special, he’ll always have a special place in my heart, as a great teacher.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Seymour has new family Thank you all for your support…

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. k.  |  03/29/2010 at 1:56 pm

    Oh, Kristen, I’m so sorry. ((((((hugs)))))) You did right by Pedey in everything.

  • 2. tomdockery  |  03/29/2010 at 2:04 pm

    I was so saddened to hear about your loss.I have been so blessed…..so far… but I will be devistated. He looked like such a cute little guy. My phone # here at Vivian Acres is 497-0678 and in the future please feel free to call me.


  • 3. Deb Clemens  |  03/29/2010 at 3:29 pm

    Your writing is so heartfelt and eloquent; I feel your pain and am sending healing energy your way. Goats are wonderful companions and teachers – no two are quite the same. I am so sorry for your loss, but know this – he was a happy boy until the end, thanks to your love and care. Sometimes the learning curve is painful.

  • 4. Kathy  |  03/29/2010 at 3:38 pm

    I am so sad with you! We haven’t lost any large animals yet. Not that our animals are truly large. All we’ve lost are birds. I would be devastated to lose any of my goats or sheep.

  • 5. GrandmaSue aka Olliepup  |  03/29/2010 at 4:13 pm

    I am so saddend to learn of your loss. You wrote a great blog post when I am sure your heart is breaking. You were a very loving shephard to him and he could not have asked for a more loyal owner. You are all in my thoughts today.

  • 6. Sara  |  03/29/2010 at 4:41 pm

    You certainly are in my thoughts today – I am so sorry to hear of your loss…but, I know in my heart that you did the best you could and that you took great care of your goats and that you love them very much…I know that Pedey knows how much he was loved and cared for.

  • 7. Laila Jonsson  |  03/29/2010 at 9:31 pm

    I feel fortunate to have met Pede along with the rest of the herd. It was obvious from the start that he was special. It’s sad that he died, but he was as you said ” the weak link”. But that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t here for a reason, he was a gift! A very special gift that will keep giving to you for a very long time.

  • 8. Suzy  |  03/29/2010 at 9:55 pm

    Dearest Kristen,
    I am heartbroken with you…I love that you are so in love with your animals and that you shared that with us! Know that you learned and will be a better farmer for Pedey’s passing.

    Cherish his fleece.


  • 9. Susan aka reddirt  |  03/29/2010 at 10:48 pm

    Oh darlin’, I am so very sorry! Pedeywas really quite blessed.
    You cared for him unselfishly, and gave him your love each time you touched him. If only all the beings in this world could say that they had someone like you in their lives. My heart is breaking for you. I’m so glad that you saved some fleece as a tangible reminder of him, but I know that he will always live in your heart.

  • 10. Julie (Julie from Ravelry)  |  03/30/2010 at 6:19 am

    I was so sorry to hear of your loss. While you know it can happen that doesn’t make it any easier when it does. All the “Sunshine Aunties” are thinking of you and wishing you well.

  • 11. Eleanor (aka solnochka)  |  03/30/2010 at 7:33 am

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It’s just heartbreaking — but it’s true: he was lucky to have such a beautiful and loving person to care for him till the end. Take care of yourself and please let us know if there is anything we can do to make this sad time any easier for you.

  • 12. Adelaide  |  03/30/2010 at 8:36 am

    So very sorry. Such very sad news. You clearly did everything you could. Pedey was lucky to have such a wonderful and loving home. You are not alone in your sadness.

  • 13. Lydia  |  03/30/2010 at 12:45 pm

    I’m so sorry, Kristen! I had to come over and say that after reading you lost a goat in the Spunky group. I can only imagine how hard that must be. I so want to have goats or sheep someday but I worry about how hard it would be to lose one. You’ll be in my thoughts (as you often are).

  • 14. Lindagm  |  03/30/2010 at 12:59 pm

    So so sorry to hear your sad news. All you can do is the best you can and you did that. Definitely one of the hardest parts of owning any animal.

  • 15. countryelvis4  |  03/30/2010 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words. Your support means more to me than you can know.

  • 16. Becca  |  03/30/2010 at 8:13 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes it is not easy to be a shepherdess, and these sorts of experiences are probably the most difficult to cope with. I hope that your family and other goats will be a comfort to you.

  • 17. Heather  |  03/30/2010 at 9:09 pm

    I’m so sorry about little Pedey. You gave Pedey a good and happy life at your farm. My thoughts are with you.

  • 18. lauria  |  03/30/2010 at 10:24 pm

    I’m so sorry!! 😦

    Lots of love, hugs, and good thoughts coming your way. You did everything you could, and I’m sure Pedey was appreciative of that.

  • 19. --Deb  |  03/30/2010 at 10:35 pm

    Oh, I’m so sorry. Poor Pedey! Sending hugs.

  • 20. GrandmaTutu  |  03/31/2010 at 8:19 am

    Kristen, I was so sad to hear of Pedey’s passing. I know you must be heartbroken. He was a lucky boy to have had you as his caretaker, and I know you feel lucky to have had him. I love how you and Brad let him go–in the woods, with nature, on the earth he touched everyday and knew so well. That has to be a comfort to you. You are walking the circle of life so well . . . with such sensitivity and heart. My prayers, good thoughts, and best love are with you.

  • 21. DebbieB  |  04/03/2010 at 12:42 pm

    Adding my tears, and my love.

  • 22. Leah Rosenthal  |  04/09/2010 at 9:08 pm

    Oh Kristen, I am so very very sad at this moment. I’ve always felt a sence of communion with the circle of life, but never in the deepest part of my heart would I wish this sadness on you. I’ve never known a more loving shepherd. You give so much of your self to the people and animals in your care, that it’s sadly almost a given that the pain will be equal to the gifts you so freely offer. If you didn’t love your littleones, it wouldn’t hurt so badly. Rejoice in the lives you touch, in the successes of your husbandry, and in the obvious love your flock holds for you. These are the gifts which will lessen your sadness. I hold you in my heart even though I can’t offer arms to hold you. Know I dry your tears in spirit, and send you love, warmth and healing with each breath and each thought.



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