Saturday, May 5, 2012

losing 'stella

We lost our sweet little Stella goat to a predator last night. It looks to be coyotes, but I fear we'll never know for certain what took her life. We spent the day shedding tears, walking fence lines, researching, calling neighbors, and racking our brains trying to make sense of what happened and how. The next few nights will find us out on watch.

This is the first time we've lost one of our animals specifically to a predator, but no loss is ever easy. There are always the doubts and questions that plague our minds, and the burden of guilt over not having been able to protect one under our care. At least in nature, killing is seldom without purpose. And perhaps because of this, I don't feel anger toward the animal that took Stella from us. She was likely a mother, like myself, wanting food for her own new babies.


We moved the rest of the herd over to bunk with the chickens for now. It's closer to the house, and the barn is secure and safe. Lots of head scratching and treats and reassurances were offered, most especially to Stella's twin sister, Abby. I told her I was sorry, just the same way I did kneeling next to Stella's body. I don't know how goats deal with the loss of a herd member, but Abby has been very vocal all day. I do think animals can overcome loss more quickly than humans - it's a matter of their survival. Still, though, I feel heartbroken most especially for her.

An older picture of the twins - Abby on the left and Stella on the right.

It seems I've been reading a lot about loss in many other places these days, too. When something like this happens, in our minds, we tend to repeat the words; "This is life on a farm, and we need to accept it." Part of me knows this to be true. Still, there's always that fleeting moment where I want to run under a rock and hide, or give up on this path. What am I doing in this wild west? (and I mean that both literally and figuratively). When trying and painful times come, I can almost convince myself that I'm not cut out for this life. But deep down I know that's not true, and I often find myself getting more fierce; my resolve even stronger.
       
Those goofy chickens, do you see them in the background? Prying a laugh out of us!

I wasn't sure about sharing this here; it's been a rough week. But it didn't seem right to let such a tragic and solemn day for us pass without marking it somehow. This is our story after all - the good and the bad bits, which can't be neatly separated from each other.


The evening chores took longer tonight, and as dusk came fast, the wind felt ominous, and I barely caught a glimpse of that big, bright moon before the thunderstorm rolled in. That same moon that the goats love sleeping out under on cool and calm spring nights, such as last night was...

I sighed into the rain, sending up a prayer to Saint Francis for the protection of all our animals. After everything else, sometimes that's really the only thing we can do.

12 comments:

  1. Sorry to head about your loss. Sending you positive thoughts to help you stay strong.

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  2. Oh Jaime, how horrible. It's never easy losing an animal but this is the worst way. Sometimes life is so hard. Hugs and prayers.

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    1. Oh Leigh, isn't that the truth. I know you've been through some of the worst of it, too. Thank you for your supportive words - just what I needed to hear today. xo

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  3. So sorry about your little Stella. I so hate losing our sweet animals...although as a kid I had to go through that many, many times. I guess it's just a very real part of the cycle of life, but still such a very hard part.

    Mia

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    1. Yes, Mia, such wisdom in your experience. Thank you.

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  4. I'm so sorry to read your news. My heart goes out to you all. xx

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    1. Thank you, Christine, we appreciate your kindness.

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  5. I've just read this post and I'm so sorry to hear about your sweet Stella. It is never easy. The fact that it is so hard to lose an animal friend is part and parcel with truly caring for them in the first place. And in knowing that Stella was loved and cared for while she was with you on your lovely farm, frolicking with her sister and other friends - goats and chickens alike, in that I hope you have found solace. Here on my farm, we are surrounded by coyotes. There are nights when my sheep just refuse to be locked into their hut, and it upsets me straight through until morning, when I wake to discover them still there, fine. But oh the risk! Nerve-wracking stuff, farming. Sending hugs to you and your family.

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