Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Hole

Paul dug a hole with the tractor a few days ago.  And when I spy the excavated dirt next to it, I get teary eyed.

That hole was dug with one purpose in mind.  Not to plant a tree.  Not for another garden.

We’re still not quite sure how long that hole will just be a hole.  It may rain and fill up with water.  It may get filled in again from six unruly goat kids jumping on the pile of dirt next to it.  But there is one thing that is certain.  Regardless if the hole stays a hole, or if we have to dig it out again, in the very near future it will contain the earthly remains of my first goat.

Nettie is not doing well.   Over a year and a half ago she sustained a life threatening injury to her udder and never really recuperated from it.  The average life span of a diary goat is said to be 10 – 12 years and she’ll be eleven years old this winter.  I’m sure the trauma from that incident took its toll and the heat of late is not kind to old, injured goats.

Really, I’ve been preparing myself for this for a while now.  No matter how much special feed we give her or how many vitamins or “extras” she gets, Nettie hasn’t been able to put on any weight.  Her coat isn’t shiny anymore (yes, I’ve wormed her & done fecals), she doesn’t move like she did even just a year ago.  She lays down most of the time, either under the barn or under a shade tree. 

So I’m planning her last days / moments with us.  Barring making her ill, she’ll be getting whatever kind of yummy weeds she likes.  She’ll be getting vanilla wafers.  Extra cool water during the heat of the day.  Lots scratches on the head and pats on the shoulders.  She has given us fine kids and years worth of healthy milk and when I can best tell it is time for us to end her suffering, she will be surrounded by those that loved her.

Yes.  I kind'a love my goat.  I know I bitch on & on about what a PITA they are (and believe me, they are), but sometimes livestock become more than just meat or milk or eggs or fiber.  Nettie was a great milker, an awesome mother (and Auntie) and has a wonderful, patient personality.  I wish I could say that for any other of my herd, but it just ain't so.  Apparently a goat like her doesn't come around often; either that or I have a horrible breeding program.

I'm off to do a post-afternoon, pre-feeding barn chore check.  And I'm going to gather a bunch of dock and plantain for Nettie because I know it's two of her favorite weeds.


  1. I got all teary tonight reading this post. Yeah, every now and then there does come along an animal that's just special for his or her own reasons. And we don't want them to get old or leave us. But they do. Lots of kudos to you, dear Carolyn, for being in tune with Nettie's needs and preparing for what will come. It evident she's been a very special goat and is gonna be loved and cared for until the end. Hugs.

  2. This must be hard, but I suppose that's the price one pays for allowing animals into our lives. Sounds like she's had a pretty good life. We should all have such good care in the end. Best to you

  3. I'm sorry, and you have a reminder of it in your yard. Maybe you can make the area a planting place for goat treats and add pretty flowers. So sad.

  4. Carolyn,

    I'm so sorry Nettie isn't doing well. Injuries like this take a toll on the goat, and the caretaker. Continue to spoil Nettie, and make her last days comfortable. Sending hugs your way.

  5. Aw, poop, Carolyn. I am so sorry about Nettie. But the fact that she lived as long as she has and through that awful injury, says a lot about the love and care you provide every living thing on your watch. Even if they drive you crazy. I'll be thinking of you all.

  6. Oh, I feel for you. We are getting ready to dig a hole too. One of my ewes, Barbie, is doing poorly no matter what the efforts. She is 10, and has had 34 lambs through the years! She is now in the "retiree" pasture with some other old gals who no longer get bred (minimum age in that field is 10 years). We are trying to give her one low key, pleasant season before we let her go. She is also the sweetest, most gentle Barbados ewe ever, I am going to miss her terribly. My thoughts are with you and your Nettie.

  7. Awww shucks. I can't find the right words, there probably aren't any. :(