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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.




Monday, April 16, 2012

Old Man Guinnias has gone on


It's a very sad day for me. Old Man Guinnias was the first old creature to come to Apifera at age 15, crippled from foot neglect [we adopted him from New Moon Goat Farm]. But he just kept on ticking. Those of you that know me well, understand that this was more than a goat - he was a muse, a friend, an inspiration, a first. Every old man I ever knew or loved was wrapped up into that goat.  He will never be replaced. He will never be forgotten.

One dances through life with various muses, tapping a two step or lingering shoulder to shoulder to a love song. But in the end, one has to take the final dance alone. And so Old Man Guinnias quietly danced off last night without me. He was going into his twentieth year.

As I walked to the barn this morning, the usual sounds greeted me - the donkeys brayed, the horse nickered, the ducks spoke and I could hear the chickens flapping their wings in their coop anticipating the new day. The Head Troll was already up and out, and Professor and Stevie slept near the entrance to Guinnias' sleeping chambers. The pig was still snoring, only a few feet from the Old Man. And there he was, my beautiful old goat, on his side, eyes open but dancing far, far, away.

While I gasped as I saw him, I was prepared. In the last two weeks he had been getting weaker on his legs and falling frequently. He was losing weight and I couldn't keep it on him even with various supplements. On Sunday he couldn't get up without assistance and throughout the day he fell four times. I would hear him crying and I'd find him splayed out on his side, unable to right himself. A goat or ruminant is in trouble if they are on their side too long, especially an old fellow. On one fall, he had somehow turned his neck backwards. His uncrippled left side was simply unable to hold him up anymore. Thankfully I was in the barnyard all day working, so was able to rescue him each time, and with each incident, I held him and spoke with him about...everything.

He was no longer safe, nor could he do simple things he enjoyed - walking to the gate to meet me or standing in the sun. They say one will "just know the right time" to put an animal down. I have found that not always to be true. But yesterday, I knew.

And that inner knowledge was a gift, because it let me and Guinny have a day of goodbyes. I spent long spells holding him and telling him how special our journey was together.

"You were meant to be here, Guin, there will never be another goat like you, never," I said.

I sat in the stall and sang to him. His body pushed into me, unable to stand on its own, his head was on my shoulder. When I looked in his eyes, I saw dignity and a goat that was tired, and ready. I cried with him, his were invisible tears. Most importantly, I was able to tell him it was okay to go on, and I told him I'd do right by him and wouldn't let him suffer. It was time to let go.

When I put him to bed last night, I secured him in his stall so he would have less chance of falling. He was resting peacefully after his dinner. I had planned to call the vet this morning. But The Old Man did it his way. And I can't help see it as his final gift to me.

"She needs me to help this time," I felt those words from him this morning.

I am so appreciative I was with him so much, and especially yesterday. It was a beautiful, clear day and he had sun in his bones. Martyn offered to dig the grave but I needed to prepare it. It's my last gift to him, my last act of care. He will rest near Aunt Bea and Rosa's lambs and come summer pumpkins will shade him. He's wrapped in my first horse blanket that has kept so many other old goats warm in times of need and a small sheep and donkey will be his companions until he is settled. The animal crackers are from his special lady friend who loved sending him cookie care packages all the way from Connecticut. Their presence in his grave will remind me and him how far his love went, and how he made a difference to other old animals in need. The feather will help him float on days he might feel tired.

No more, "I love you's", no more blog posts tagged with his name, no old face waiting at the gate, no more sun breaks with Guin...but he's everywhere I go on this farm.

And as I documented in "Misfits of Love", I will honor Guinnias's request, when he said one day as we harvested pumpkins,

“Please face me toward the sun, and place my ear tips in a way so I can hear the sing song of the barnyard.”

30 comments:

Cheryl Razmus said...

My one and only house animal, my kitty just came in from his nap and sat in my lap while I read the beautiful story of Guinnias' final gift of love. Somehow he knew that comfort was needed here. So I'm sending a few tears and smiles of comfort your way. I don't know how you say goodbye to so many. You honor life so beautifully.

Emma said...

Rest in peace, Old Man Guinnias.

Jeannie said...

I am so sorry, but glad that Guinnias did not suffer. It is so very hard to let our friends pass and they take a part of us with them. Sending you and all at the farm warm thoughts and hugs.

Jules Dolly said...

Oh no, I am so very sorry, such sad news and I'm sitting here crying because I empathise and felt so torn to just cry as I read your words. Sending your healing love xx

Lisa Kaser said...

The nicest, bestest piece I have had the pleasure of reading on your blog so far. All your writings pluck at the heart and connect us to animals that we may know or not but now have a relationship with-like it or not-which is to say we are lucky to know them through your writing.
This was just all so beautiful-of course I am crying-how could one not. Love to you and the barnyard, Katherine

Annick said...

I never had the pleasure to meet him but he sounds like a very special soul. I had one of those special souls that left 5 years ago and I still miss him.
Rest in Peace Guinnias

Red Fish Circle said...

Oh, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. His last years must have been a huge reward for the hard years that came before. Sounds like he didn't want to miss out on all the happenings on the farm and surpassed what you expected. What a beautiful relationship - you were both so lucky to find each other.

Ellen Bateman Bulterman said...

Blessing to you... sending you hugs and prayers and much love.

tutto a posto said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My eyes are full of tears because anyone who loves animals knows how sad it is when one of these innocent beings dies. I can only think of the animals (cats) that I have lost and how sad and lonely it is to no longer have your companion.

On a brighter note, his life was so peaceful and full of joy since you shared your home with him. I will never, never understand the mentality of those who neglect and abuse innocent animals. You are a role model for all of us. You have truly made sacrifices to give these animals a better life. Thank you and you have my condolences.

Debra said...

I'm so sorry. It is a deep hurt when our beloved animals go...Prayers and love sent your way.
~Debra

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

Sending love to you and all the creatures of Apifera, who are missing sweet Mr.Guinnias today.
May each day be a bit easier than the day before.
Take Care,
Erica

Lisa of Lisa's Little House said...

Our hearts go out to your heart and to Guin's barnyard friends. He was a fine old man... and left this earth as a gentleman.
xxoo,

Sharon Stanley said...

Rest easy old man. Much much love to you katherine and your barnyard crew.

quailtree said...

wow, such a lovely and moving tribute. let me wipe my tears and send good thoughts to all your wonderful family furry and otherwise to soon be able to think of mr, guinnias with a smile and warm feelings and not a broken and heavy heart. take care.

Angela Meijer said...

Oh Katherine. I'm so sorry. Thank you for sharing your beautiful goodbye. Sending lots of love to you and Apifera. <3

Jan said...

He was a beautiful gift to you and gave you another when he passed on his own. You were a blessing to each other.

Forest Creature said...

Beautiful post, I'm still crying from it.
I raise goats and have had a few very special ones, but this reminded me of Oberon, with whom I would nap in the sun and commune, forehead to forehead. I wish I could have met your old man, he sounds amazing.
Thank you for loving the animals and sharing your love with the world.

Carol Attwell said...

Love and peace to you. Katherine. I feel your tremendous loss. Tears......

Zan Asha said...

Bless you, Katherine. I needed to read these words today....

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

A beautiful tribute to a wonderful goat. Much love and many hugs to you, Katherine xx

Ruth Armitage said...

Feeling for you as you lay your old friend to rest. A shepherd's watch is not an easy one.... I'm glad Guinnius' last day was as gentle and warm as you could make it, just as his final years with you were.

Tai said...

A beautiful tribute to a beloved old man. I'm so glad you were able to say goodbye to him -- and he to you. That makes such a difference.

Else M Tennessen said...

So very, very sorry about your loss. Old Man Guinneas was awesome. Sending you hugs and comforting thoughts...

MulchMaid said...

I'm tearing as I read your beautiful piece. It's comforting to think that that dear Old Man Guinnias will live on to be known and loved by everyone you touch with your writing, Katherine. Warm hugs.

Claire the Shepherdess said...

Just so sad, and journeying in my mind to those that I have lost along the way. The tears are rolling as they surely must on the cheeks of all who read your gentle words.

Lis said...

Just tears ... and gratitude for you sharing your heart, and for sharing the gifts these incredible beings so generously give to us all. Perhaps Guinnias is nipping on some publishers, directing their attitude to Misfits and all the stories that need to be told.

xo Lis

greenearth50 said...

It is very touching. I am truly sorry for your loss. You did give your dear Old Man Guinnias such a beautiful life and he could not have been loved more. Blessing your heart! My prayer is with you.

attyya said...

So sorry. I have said those words many times, also - "I will never never forget you." Well done Katherine, beautiful tribute.

Blackfeatherfarm said...

A beautiful, touching post.... so sad ,but such a loving tribute to a deserving creature.

Cynthia Myers said...

I'm sittng here, reading this and crying. I don't know you or Guinnias but my heart hurts for your loss. What a wonderful tribute. He was truly blessed to have you in his life. What a special friend you had in him.
My Deepest Sympathies.

Post a Comment

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