Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Goodbye, my little Lofa
I had just turned on the barn lights to do morning feedings. It was the first day of spring and the rain had just broken into clouds with sun breaks, the air was warm enough to be coatless.
I turned my head to the right, and there as usual in the first stall, was Stevie, on his crippled knees looking content. Rudy was to his side, looking brightly at me, but down to the left was a little black body, wearing a warming jacket. Without even touching him I knew he was dead. It was Lofa.
That's when I screamed.
I screamed in shock, like a person walking in on an intruder. I cried and wept over that little dead body, I'd really grown fond of him. There had been no warning he was dying, or in danger of going into a bad state. I've worked with enough of these elderly goats - or goats who came from malnourishment or needy situations - to know that they can take a turn for the worse really quickly. But Lofa had been eating well and was active. I always checked his eyes and gums daily when I'd give him his morning hugs, just as a precaution to see if he was getting anemic. The night before he died, I said my usual good nights to him - he just loved to be hugged, and would lean into you and rest his head in your side. It was supposed to rain, so I put his little jacket on him for some extra warmth, even though he showed no signs of shivers.
There was no sign of distress in his body, except for diarrhea. I can only make assumptions and it is always hard to not know exactly what killed an animal in the end. I often said that Lofa was not a very strong goat. We'd had a scare with him not long after he arrived last June, where he was really sick, and the vet concurred it was anemia. I had dealt with this before with Aunt Bea and knew how quickly they can die if they don't get treatment, so I got him rebounded in a few days. He wasn't as old as Bea so that helped. He might have had blockage in an intestine from a thorn, glass or any small object he picked up while eating. This happened to a yearling sheep and the vet did an autopsy where we found the blockage - but we never could determine what caused it. And that sheep became ill two days prior to her death.
It is what it is.
When I got to the barn, the animals were as stoic about another death as I had seen them in the past. They mourn in different ways than we do. They move on much more elegantly too. The rains returned, and I turned a bucket upside down, took a seat near Lofa, and watched the animals eat their hay while chickens scattered in and out of the barn. It never ceases to give me comfort when one of the animals dies - how the barnyard goes on. My good byes to Lofa were weepy, he was such a special little fellow. Lofa was a talker, no matter where he was in the barnyard, if I entered at the gate, I knew exactly where he was because he'd start talking. He was bowlegged like no other and his front teeth always protruded a bit, sort of like he had dentures. He reminded me of a little old man in Florida, walking the beach all bowlegged with skinny legs and mouth slightly ajar.
When I got to the barn and found him around 8 am, his mouth was still warm. This killed me as it indicated he had died shortly before I got there. My heroics might have only prolonged what nature had in store. His little body did what it could. I buried him with a sprig of daffodil and some pussy willows to celebrate spring with him.
As I walked back to the house, it dawned on me that five years ago on this same day, early in the morning, my father died. He was in home hospice and had told my mother he hoped to live to see Spring. And he did, if only an hour or so of it. Perhaps Lofa was ready long before this too, and knew this first day of spring had significance on many levels for so many.
Little Lofa, you never gave any trouble to anyone and were such a joy to have with us. You gave Rudy comfort too after he lost Teats, and your friend Raggedy was able to gain courage at your side. I will miss you, little man!
It all seemed extra sad and heavy today.
Lofa arrived from a neglect case, along with Raggedy Man, in 2012. He had first been rescued by New Moon Goat Farm Rescue where many of the goat Misfits have come from.