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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Goodbye, my little Lofa

I screamed.

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.


Cathy said...

Oh no! I know how special he was to you. He was a lovely little man, and you gave him such a happy life. So sorry for your loss, Katherine. It seems he went peacefully; certainly he knew how much you loved him.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, C. SO glad you met him. Oh he know, man I told him ALL the time, he was so loveable and loved being lovable. You know how some little boys squirm when they get hugged, even though they like it - then there are boys that just stand and love getting hugged, that was Lofa.He was so amusing too.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks to Ruth A. for sending this beautiful poem:


by Jane Hirschfield

If the gods bring to you

a strange and frightening creature,

accept the gift

as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,

oil the hooves well,

caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver

embedded with jewels.

Spare no expense, pay what is asked,

when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself

would be treated, brought speechless and naked

into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,

do not hesitate even an instant –

stroke the white throat,

the heavy, trembling dewlaps

you’d come to believe were yours,

and plunge in the knife.

Not once

did you enter the pasture

without pause,

without yourself trembling,

that you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Evelyn's Wonderland said...

Dear Katherine, I am so sorry for your loss. He was so lucky to have you give him such a loving life and he sounds like he was such a wonderful little guy. There is no doubt that he felt the love you had for him.

pencilfox said...

i am so sorry.
having raised MANY animals, i know the feeling all too well. and each one is as special as the next.
sometimes there is no "saving"....there is only the giving up of the precious spirit....

that poem is perfect.

much love to you....

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. The fact that he did not suffer must be some small comfort.

Kari from Meadowview Farm said...

Tears for a goat, tears for your loss.
May his memory be for a blessing.

Jan said...

So sorry for your loss but happy that Lofa had you to care for him during his final time here. You helped him so much, and he, you.

The Hockman Girl said...

I know no words can express the pain you are feeling right now. Love and light to you, and the dearly departed Lofa! Blessings! ~ Kitty

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, everyone...very different without him, he was so vocal...

artlover said...

Sorry about your lost!
Your heartfelt feelings for your little guy touched me deeply!
So beautifully expressed..
Sending love ;-)

Sparroweye said...

If I tell you that Lofa is now with your Father romping in a meadow. You must believe me. With no limping at all. Even if you had held him as he passed. It is what it is. A loss. But only for us. For them, a new beginning. This made me cry. For I remembered losing My Girl and her dying in my arms, going limp. And gone in two seconds. We knew she had a mass in her chest. The Vet felt there was nothing to be done at her age. I whispered in her ear. "Find me". A pet psychic told me that she saw Girl standing next to our Uncle Leonard. And he was thanking me for taking in his wife's dachshund when she passed. The psychic said, Girl will come back to you. Five years later at a pet adoption I saw Bonnie in a cage. Our eyes locked. I knew. I just knew. Now Tiny has a companion again. Loss is never easy.

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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 ~