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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Wilbur gets his wings and Ollie plays in snow

Sophie was his designated hospice nurse

"Wilbur got his wings!" 
Old Sophie told the goats as she came out of Wilbur's convalescing suite. Sophia had been designated as Wilbur's roommate as he lay in his suite, unable to rise, for the past two weeks.

"Will I get wings too?" asked little Ollie.

"Someday, Ollie, but not now, it is not your time for wings, you have to earn them in your own way," said Sophie.

After two weeks of effort, Wilbur is free of his body.

Wilbur began to show signs of his age this past summer, but nothing alarming. Right around when we learned that Birdie had suffered from the brain worm-something that was new to us- I think it was about this time I noticed Wilbur lay down more, but that in and of itself is nothing to be alarmed by with an older goat. He was not lame, he was not showing any signs of the same worm that crippled Birdie for weeks and damaged her nerves. We fortunately got to Birdie quickly, and learned from our vets the protocol and were able to treat Wilbur for the brain worm too. It could be other things. It could be a tumor or wasting disease/cancer, it could be some other diseases my vet said, or a combination, and it could be old age combined with all those things.

For a good two weeks we have fought together, and his eyes and attitude were with me, he had not given up. Until a couple days ago, I could tell he was just plain tired and uncomfortable. I kept thinking of the story of the llama who was downed for one year, and the couple kept trying, and wouldn't give up, and one day, she rose. But Wilbur could not even put weight on his feet, and they were curved now. Since he was downed, I went in morning noon and night and got him up, cleaned his bedding, sat with him, gave hm water and food. The last two days, his body could not swallow, and when the vet came today, we immediately put him down because he was in clear discomfort. I have found a vet I truly love, and I've been working with her now about a year and have learned so much. There is so much to understand about deworming, not deworming, when to deworm or not to, learning your area, etc-and I've learned this year many things that make me a better caretaker, even after 15+ years you can always learn and grow. I don't think any of it would have saved Wilbur, in fact it probably would have just prolonged his life slightly, if that.

I have spent so much time with him, and I have been putting Sophie with him too at night and during the day. While chores are being done, I let the other Misfits come by and visit, and eat together. The animals already know, except Ollie, what is to come. They say their goodbyes in such a different way. They come and sniff a dying member, and there is no drama, just recognition. It is always beautiful and sad too to be part of these intimate herd moments.

With each passing of one of the Misfits that came to us long ago, and lived out West with us, it is like another string to that floating farm in the sky being cut. I will miss this sweet goat. Once a brilliant acrobat, he could fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and once even had a trapeze-it is said in the barnyard but I never got to see it. To watch an athlete's body disown him, it is hard.

This morning, when I knew the vet was coming, I told him his wings were ready for him, they were right with me for whenever he needed them.

And sometime around ten this morning, he put those wings on and took one last look at me. We all stood together and watched the light of the sky change and the shadows on earth were magnified for seconds.

"Will he come back?" Ollie asked Sophie.

"No," she said.

And Ollie ran outside to play on the snowy compost pile.

Once a day, The Misfits were allowed in to eat and commune with Wilbur

In his younger days-he had the sweetest smile

One of my favorite photos of him in his youth

Wilbur aka The Acrobat Goat...now you know why