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

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





Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A farewell to old Else, miscalculations and a window opens

Opie views the body. Right after, he came to my side.
Yesterday I got to the front barn and Else would not eat or take water. I always give her a bucket of water so she doesn't have to walk to water bucket....at least for the past month or so, a clear sign she was getting tired. But yesterday, I chose to lift her and move her into a more draft free corner. She cried, in a pain cry. Else never talks. It was clear what she was saying. I went to house to get pain meds, and the injection made her cry out in a distress cry, not a 'hey that hurt cry'. I tried to adjust her body for her, more terrible pain cries.

I told her I would make it right.

Watching an animal suffer is a horrible position to be in, and I was so lucky that one of my vets was very close by, and she came to put her down. She went out like a bulb. She was more than ready.

I had talked to my vet last fall about putting Else down before winter, and I had that in my head as the right thing to do. But then I started really getting good weight on her [for her, she is very thin] and she seemed to be going outside and enjoying life, even though her crippling condition was getting worse, as we knew it would when we adopted her from a state neglect case. For the past months of winter, it has been okay, she was eating, and had a good demeanor. It was about a week ago though that I could tell she had more trouble getting a position that was comfortable. And then yesterday. There was no question we needed to let go.

I am relieved for her.

I told my vet that I had perhaps done her a disservice not acting sooner, but she just didn't seem ready...vets hear this all the time, knowing it is usually the person that isn't ready. But I really didn't think it was time.

So it was a misjudgment on my part. After all the years of doing this, I guess I'm entitled to some miscalculations.

I feel badly though, because she clearly had a morning of pain. But then a big beautiful sleep, and no pain.

This morning she is still in the barn, covered in blankets, with the chickens sleeping on her-it is a process to bury an animal in winter, but we will in the next day or so. It is never a feeling of closure until they are in the ground. I had Wilbur cremated last winter because it was so impossible to bury him with the heavy snow, and I wasn't going to put him out for Nature [I am not opposed to this option, it just doesn't work well in our setting]. I felt really bad about having to take his body into the clinic, put in a freezer to wait for the next cremation pickup. That is how it works. They do the same thing with dogs. And people. I was so relieved to pick his ashes up.

But I want to bury them if I can, return them to the earth in body, feed the worms and tulips.

This morning I did my chores, and I realized how tired I was. I was moving slowly. I have actually given myself permission to move more slowly during chores, and take moments to look and feel and smell it all in. I don't make morning appointments anymore if I don't have to, I just don't want to rush. I've rushed enough. As I did chores I realized how much care taking fills a space, and when the creature or person is gone there is a big space left. I do not have one moment where I think "I wish I didn't have to care for this animal', never, but there is an initial empty space and a feeling of, "now what?" and then, life steps in...another old goat will come along or crippled one...the space Else left will be taken up by another Misfit who fails, or a new comer. A window will open.

So in a way, I guess her death is one more gift-it opens a space, and leaves behind the memory of her sweet self.

The Goose gives Else one last peck...just to make sure.

How I will remember her


3 comments:

Lorene said...

What a touching post. You write with such love for your animals. So many losses and yet you allow your heart to heart and open it again to another animal. This post--and you--are an inspiration.

Patty G said...

This is beautiful, Katherine. I love when you said, "I realized how much care taking fills a space, and when the creature or person is gone there is a big space left." And this,"So in a way, I guess her death is one more gift-it opens a space, and leaves behind the memory of her sweet self." Another powerful truth. The work you do is inspirational. Thank you.

Susan Bassett said...

You are truly one with your creatures. A blessing to all ❤️❤️

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 ~