Thursday, February 17, 2011

thank you Hyacinth for sharing your life with us

This has been one of those weeks that I don't ever care to endure again. So much pain and sorrow and not just here on the farm and in others lives as well. I've heard the expression through pain comes growth but I'd just as soon grow without the pain, thank you. Yesterday when I went out to the barn I saw a horrible sight, our eldest doe (Faith's favorite girl) was down and screaming in pain, I called the vet and had her come out, we put a stomach tube in to release the excess pressure in her rumen. She gave her a shot of bantamine for her pain and said lets give her some supportive care and see if that helps and I'll check on her tomorrow.

We went to the barn this morning, I with a dose of bantamine in hand and the kids with a wing and a prayer. It was not good. She was double the size she was yesterday and still not up. I told the kids that it was highly likely we would have to put her down and Faith was so visibly upset and cried. Andrew tried to hold it in but some great big tears slipped beyond his control and rolled down his cheeks. I called the vet again and explained the situation and she came right out. Today she inserted a rather large needle into the rumen through the side of her stomach and it sounded like the air being released from a balloon, not to mention the stink and then the 'juices' that came spurting out and unfortunately onto the vet. Gross! It did seem that Hyacinth's pain was eased but not alleviated. It was our thought that if she felt better she'd be inclined to get up and maybe walk about, that was not the case. We made a sling from the baby blanket Andrew brought to the barn; the one he'd been using to put over Harley at night, and we were able to get her up. Now mind you it was clear that Hyacinth had some issues with her back end and what seemed to be arthritis, not knowing her age but knowing some of her history. See, Hyacinth has had a rough life. The woman I got her from, Elaine, got her from a local equine rescue group where she'd been placed from an abusive situation. Elaine told me that she'd been beaten and that it was quite a long time before she could walk in the barn anywhere near Hyacinth with anything long and skinny, you know like a muck fork handle or what have you. But Elaine took her time, built her trust and eventually the issue subsided. And they were happy.

Hyacinth came to live here just over a year ago and let me tell you we were happy to have her here, she instantly bonded with our patient old gelding Garlic. They were never more than about 15 feet from each other and they were happy. Who'd of thought that an abused old goat and an (formerly) emaciated old horse would have formed such a tight bond.

We got her to bare weight on her legs and supported her when we tried to have her walk, but seeing her struggle so nearly killed me. I'm not exactly considered a 'warm and fuzzy' person, and I know I'd make a terrible vet because when I see and animal in pain and not being able to vocalize it in a way we can understand it hurts. I consider myself to be a caretaker of creation and sometimes that means making really hard decisions, decisions that have a lasting effect and and occasionally literally life and death decisions. It's a job I hope I am doing well and so far, the decisions I've had to make I've been comfortable with and can live with. My poor goat was in obvious severe pain and this happened in the matter of overnight, the vet wasn't sure exactly what had caused this but it was obvious what had to be done.

The vet that help us through this was exactly the kind of vet I want to treat my animals. Kind. Caring. Compassionate. Concerned. She wanted to heal my doe, but when it was obvious that was just not going to work we decided that it was the humane thing to. Hyacinth would always greet us with a joyful expression and a happy little nicker. She'd not done that in two days. She even refused a peppermint candy this morning and that is not her. She loved her peppermint treats!

She asked us if we'd like a few minutes, we did. I asked the kids if they wanted to stay or to leave. At first Andrew said he didn't want to be there, but then Faith said she did, so Andrew decided if Faith would be there then he needed to be too. We said our good-byes, cried, collected ourselves and Andrew went out to get the vet. She explained what was going to happen and we headed into the barn. Hyacinth's head was resting in Faith's lap. The vet shaved part of her neck to place the iv in, she didn't fight it or even seem to mind. The vet administered the drug, her eyes got really heavy, her head dropped, she let out a sigh, rolled to her side and it was over. Other than Faith sobbing you could have heard a pin drop in the barnyard. Whereas when we went out this morning, everybody was on screech! Even the normally docile alpacas were stirred up, but when Hyacinth passed from this world it was the most calm and peaceful sunny day and it seemed all the other animals just knew and it was beautiful.

We had to scramble this afternoon to figure out what to do with her now and I'll be quite honest I was freaking out a bit. It's the middle of February in Maine and we've got frozen ground a lot of snow. One good thing about living in a small town is that people know each other and are willing to help out a neighbor. I called a guy I knew would have an idea of who might have a backhoe. I was in a bind and I couldn't bare the thought of placing her in a manure pile on a dairy farm, but would have done that if it was to be that way. I called a gentleman up the road and he was willing to help me out, tomorrow. Low and behold he knocked on my door late this afternoon! It ended up working out better for him (and me) to bury her today. He made quick work of it, we got her into the hole and he covered her up. So she's buried here on the farm as it should be and I am happy.

Doing the chores in the barn tonight was sad, there is a void where she used to be and I miss her cheerful nicker and her searching for and anticipating treats.

These are some of my favorite pictures of her. She was a sweet and gentle spirit and is greatly missed.


  1. My heart goes out to you and the kids. I know you miss her dearly. I know that you gave her and awesome life while she was with you and she will love you forever. Hugs!

  2. thank you. Right before Andrew headed to bed tonight he stopped by my chair, looked me in the eyes and said, "Thank you Mommy for doing the right thing with Hyacinth." Some tears slipped beyond my control and rolled down my cheeks too.

  3. I am so sorry for you and your kids. What a wonderful life you gave her after her suffering the beatings or whatever happened, and you gave her the special gift of passing with dignity and peace and her loved ones near. There is a poem called The Rainbow Bridge. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it is beautiful. Google it and you'll find it. I truly believe our wonderful animal companions will be waiting for us.

  4. That had to be so hard. Some animals just find that spot in your heart and never leave, I think. Sounds like Hyacinth was one of those.

  5. So very sorry. It's so terribly hard to loose an animal. Crying with you tonight.

  6. Beautifully written Stacy. Sobbing like a baby reading it tonight. I'll miss her bleeps in the summer time that greeted me when I got home from work. I'm sad I didn't get to say goodbye to the old girl.

  7. Sometimes the kind thing is the hardest.Ever with you in memory, thank you for giving her a great caring family.

  8. Gosh - what a beautiful goat! I know goats and horses can become firm friends and make good company for each other. It sounds like you gave her a fresh start and a good life (who the h*ll would beat on a goat anyway?!?)

  9. Oh, so sad. This is the part about loving animals that I HATE, that it hurts so much to have to help them out of this life when that time comes.But how awesome that she had such a good year on your farm, and what a beautiful goat she was.
    So, so sad, and I'm so sorry for all of you.

  10. What a beautiful kind girl she was. She was lucky to have yourself, Faith and Andrew with her that day. I hope you all can heal quickly.

  11. Sorry for the loss. Will be praying for Faith especially. Great pics and very well written!


So what's the view from your world about that? I'd enjoy hearing it.