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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.





Friday, November 04, 2011

Shock at Apifera



Slideshow to accompany this post>

The day began normally. There was not a clue I'd be digging two graves in twenty four hours.

Honey Boy had breakfast as usual, as did Granny. There was nothing to indicate something was wrong. When I returned to the barnyard for dinner feedings, Granny was lying in a spot she usually isn't in, away from the barn and her mates. She had vomited a lot and was in discomfort. I gave her probiotic and she seemed to settle. But then I saw Honey Boy, lying down too. He looked ill, but wasn't in distress. He did not want dinner - highly unusual. I got him up to walk him around and could see he was foaming a bit, his rumen looked flat and normal. Granny's rumen was extended, a sign of trouble. No changes in diet had been made so I wondered if poison of some kind was causing it. We keep no pesticides on the farm, all animals are locked away from danger in the old barn. No hay twine around the critters.

I waited it out an hour, and as Granny settled more, and quit foaming, Honey Boy became more restless. I did my best for him, checked in with a vet - it was now way past closing hours- and mainly helped him to stay calm. By midnight he seemed like he might be okay, and he had calmed greatly from my massages. Then I did something I regret- I told him, "Don't die on me," and I went to bed. I knew in my heart he might be dying. I was cold and tired and Martyn came and got me to come in.

I always tell the old ones, "It's okay if you have to go now, go on, I'll be right here though." I know he holds no grudge- that's a human behavior. And it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

But he was gone when we went to the barn in the early morning. I laid him in state so the barnyard could see him while Martyn dug his grave in the pumpkin patch. The sound of his body being put in the dirt, I can hear that, it has a distinctive sound when you put a body in the ground. And then it's really quiet.

Granny seemed better, but I had the vet come out to check things over, and discuss what happened and what might have caused it. By afternoon when the vet arrived, Granny had weakened and worsened. We decided to tube her for treatment to attempt to get the rumen back on track. But soon after, she showed signs of neurological damage and we felt it was only right to euthanize her. I had planned to give her more treatments and shots through the night, but the vet and I knew it would be a night of suffering, and now it was clear she couldn't fight it off.

What caused it? We don't have a definitive answer. Everyone else is healthy. There are no pesticides here, no moldy hay or feed, ample clean water, no poisonous trees or shrubs. The vet spent an hour just walking around with me and he couldn't determine it. He knows our layout well and he said it's 'one of the safest barns he goes too'. The only thing we considered possible was a solution of crystals I had used a week before in the stall next door to the goats, a solution I dipped my sheep's feet in to help prevent foot rot. We wondered if the sprinkles stuck to sheep feet and were tracked into the goat stall somehow. But it seems so unlikely, and I couldn't find anything online about it being harmful to animals - in solid form.

So I am quite raw and sad. It was very sudden. It was a hard day. Wilbur wouldn't even talk to me all day and he would not go to see Granny's body. Wilbur and Granny had separated when she took ill and he did not return to her side through out her sickness, or even when she died. I know he knew she was dying. My father's beloved dog left his death bed days before he died, as if their silent good byes had been made.

This morning there was beautiful thick fog- like a blanket of Honey Boy hair to cover us in comfort. I took time to be in my barnyard, with all the life around me. The first one at the gate is usually Honey Boy - but not this morning. It was my charming little Acrobatic Goat, aka Wilbur. He was back to speaking to me and I spent a lot of time with him today.

They were here a short time, like so many of the older ones, but they are now part of Apifera.

21 comments:

farmlady said...

I'm so sorry, Katherine. Loosing animals is a sad affair. We know that they will leave us, at some point, but it's always hard.

"This morning there was beautiful thick fog- like a blanket of Honey Boy hair to cover us in comfort."
This is a beautiful observation.
May you be comforted by the spirit of your farm. C.

marta traughber said...

that's really sad. I'm sorry for your loss.

Jeannie said...

My heart is breaking and tears are cloudy my vision. Goodbye Granny and Honey Boy, you will be missed. I know this is part of the circle of life, but it does not make it easier. You are in my thoughts and warm hugs are being sent your way.

Zan Asha said...

Katherine, I will say it again: you are doing a spectacular job, but that job inherently comes with so much heartache. I can't imagine taking care of so many animals, many with a hard life, some old and unwanted. It takes heroic people like you to care for them.

I remember working as a tech--sometimes there are animals who die and no one knows why. Please don't be discouraged. They had a great life, because of you.

Sharon said...

katherine i'm so sad for your loss...one is hard but two at once seems just dreadful. you know more than anyone all you can do is all you can do. your whole barnyard crowd is lucky to have you...in the good times and the sad.

Mary Ann said...

I'm so, so sorry.

Christine said...

I am so very sorry, Katherine. Oh what unconditional love they give us--and ask for so little in return.

Brenda said...

There's nothing I can say to help, but I am sad for you and the farm. May your sweet memories give you a little comfort in the hardest times.

Carole said...

Very sad day for you all on the farm. I'm glad Wilbur was the first to meet you for a chat! Hugs all around.

Robyn P. Thayer said...

Grace holds you. Thank you for sharing.

Ellen Bateman Bulterman said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Grace and love be with you. My heart is holding you close.

GrayFlannel said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's never easy losing a friend. I'm sure they are still there with you watching over all of you and the farm. And will most definitely always be there in your hearts. Sending you all a big hug. Lori

Adrian said...

As all have said, I am so very sorry for your loss and for the difficult time you had with your beloved animals being sick. Some things cannot be explained, just have to be endured. I'm so glad you were able to help them as much as you did. You can feel at peace with that, even though your feels the big spaces of their emptiness.

Deborah Weber said...

Oh Katherine I'm so sorry. Such hard sadness. Sending comforting hugs.

maccandace said...

I'm so sorry, Katherine.

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Zan has so eloquently said everything there is to say......

Susan said...

I was thinking of you today, up at a farm/apple orchard in Ct and we were taking photos of their goats and a burro. I thought of you and how beautiful it is that you have provided a sanctuary for these lovely creatures - so sad to click in to see you and realize your day has been a sad and hard one. I am so sorry for your loss, but do hold the thought that you walk in grace with these animals and their spirits are peaceful because of your love and care.

Apifera Farm said...

Thank you so very much, everyone of you. It was a sad and sudden death - or deaths- who knows why things happen as they do. We are all fine and comforted by so many things here, each other, the land, the knowledge we were there in the end and held them

denise f said...

There are so few of us that are born to be caretakers of the infirm and the aged ones of our animal kingdom. As hard as each and every loss is, I know I am blessed to have them in my life for however long they choose to stay; and I find solace in knowing they find their final resting place with me. God Speed Granny and Honey Boy.

Goat Song said...

I'm sorry for your loss. :( I can understand how you feel though. I recently lost 5 goats this summer to sickness, and I have one goat who is fading from this life as I type. Sometimes, it doesn't matter what we do to try and save our animals... They will still go when their name is called...

allaboutbuck.com said...

Lifting you up in prayer. Such a sad experience, but eclipsed by grace and glory. Thank you for sharing the passing of Granny and Honey Boy. Peace to you!

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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 ~