Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Good-bye, old lady



It is with shock, and sadness, that I write this post.

Georgie, one of Apifera's senior pygmy goats, died on Christmas night.

She was very old, and crippled, but just that morning I had filmed her, contently eating hay in her stall, for a holiday movie I had made for family. It's hard to believe she died later that night, for there were no signs of distress.

And it was Gertie, her compadré she was adopted with, who had fallen ill last Monday. Gertie rebounded, and we suspected an upset stomach. These two old ladies had neglected feet for years, so as they aged, their bodies became more crippled. If you take an animal that has been dwarfed, and then add a handicap of not being able to walk a lot, sooner or later, the rumen will get blocked, or the heart will be asked to do work it physically can't do anymore. We suspect that since Georgie walked very little, her body and organs just couldn't function well anymore, and perhaps her lungs had filled with fluid, and that would have also compromised her heart. There was no sign of distress that morning, no sign of pneumonia or bloat, no feed changes, no poison items about.

Oddly, when I look back on it, the day before she died, Gertie had spent a lot more time on her own away from Georgie, and even seemed to sleep away from her those last two nights. I think she knew. Animals sense death in another creature, if it is pending.

I came to the barn at 5pm Christmas night, and Georgie got up to take the handful of pellet I always gave her, but she fell, her front legs [usually her only working appendages] caved on her, and she went into a sort of a spasm. She could not stand. Within a half hour, I was able to get her to sit up, rather than lie on her side, and I massaged her sides which helped her burp. We checked her three times through the night, and all three times she was upright, looked uncomfortable, but she wasn't splayed out or thrashing. No teeth grinding. And she drank water when I brought it to her, she was not dehydrated. The only odd behavior, now sad to think about, was she kept making little bleats to me, and if I quit rubbing her head, she'd bleat again. To me it was a sign of stress or pain, but perhaps a bedside farewell to her companions. I considered bringing her into the studio where I could sleep by her all night, but I am believer that animals want to be in their familiar environs, and that large hay stall was her home, and her goat friends were there. The sounds of the sheep next door was what she knew. On my next trip to the barn, she was dead.

I believe in long weeping periods over a dead animal, if I'm so inclined. It's purging for me, and a way to show my emotional sadness at their passing. I sat with her little crippled body in my lap, and wept. Oddly, Gertie did not attend, but Old Man Guinnias did. I am so glad I spent time with her, and the others, each morning. She only had one year with us after we adopted her from New Moon Goat Rescue [where Guinnias is from too]and it was a honor to have her spend her final days here. Georgie was a sweet, sweet little goat, very kind and gentle, not bossy, not a trouble maker, just an old lady goat doin' the best to get to the feed dish.

I buried her this morning in the pumpkin patch. I saw Gertie there later today, nibbling on grass.

18 comments:

Emma said...

I'm glad she had such a good home for her last year.

Thinking of you all...

indie grrrl said...

Sending love and light to you, Georgie in heaven, and to all the beautiful creatures at Apifera. xoxo

Sharon said...

ah, i'm so sorry...she was lucky to live at the "apifera hospice" farm...what a way to go huh? well fed, retired, surrounded by friends and not suffering hardly at all....sorry for ya'll though...

Cathy said...

I'm so sorry. She was a dear old lady, and so fortunate to have a loving home with you all in her last days. It was a privilege to get to meet her. RIP, sweet Georgie. xoxo

Zap said...

I am so sorry for Georgie's passing...but know she is running unhindered ...and probably trading stories with Giacomo...so glad she lived out her last year with you and the crew at apifera...
edilized

julie Haymaker thompson said...

OH I am so sorry.

Took said...

I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I am glad for you to have had time with Georgie. Sending comforting thoughts of gamboling goats in sweetly scented fields.

artistickitty said...

Sending a Texas sized hug....♥

Mare said...

She was a lucky little goat to have her last year with you...i send my love and healing energy...

maccandace said...

I'm sorry, and glad you had each other for a year.

Amber said...

Oh it is so hard when one of our farm friends pass. You are in my thoughts. So happy this little goat had the ending she deserved.
Hugs
Amber

Suzen said...

Hello Katherine, I thought of you with gratitude this weekend as my little kitty, Webster, has gotten mightily ill. He is 12 and an oddball/loner sort of beastie. His abdomen filled with fluid, which the vet removed mostly, about 1/2 gallon, no exaggeration. As my husband and I heard that whatever he had was very serious, our eyes filled with tears. I remembered the many posts of yours regarding the reality of your life and I knew that you were someone who would absolutely understand how we would love such a funny little cat. Thank you for your honest posts and a long-distance hug to you as well.

Susan said...

Oh, so sorry to hear about this. But what a lovely life you gave to her, a last gift of kindness and love. Your animals have found safe harbor with you.

Apifera Farm said...

Thank you everyone for such kind words and thoughts. She was loved, and it's part of having older animals. Still, a space in the barn, that's for sure.

turquoise cro said...

Haven't been here for a while(using my daughter's laptop for a while now and of course your site wasn't on her Fav but it is now,hehe) and I was just looking over some old posts of mine and there was a link to get here soOOOOo here I am once again! I will pray for that sweet Georgie, that's good YOU held her and let out some of your sadness!! ((((Katherine))))

Melly Testa said...

I am so sorry. It hurts to see our animal friends leave this earth. This weekend I had the pleasure of having my Cat Monk (now gone from this world) come and head butt me. He used to love when I tried to meditate and would sit and do yoga. So he came and he head butted my right leg, jumped into my lap and dispersed. It felt so real.

Yarni Gras! said...

what a wonderful way to spend the last night of her life, wrapped and warm with a dear friend

Traci Suzanne Marvel said...

I appreciate you Miss Katherine and how you take such good care of your animals. I also appreciate your writings of the things that we don't like to really think about at that is the death of our animals. You have a true ministry.
Your writings help me so.
oxoxox Traci Suzanne~

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~