goodbye, Eli.....

I honestly wish I would have been able to make the decision a few days before, but it was the weekend and when you have large animals, and you don’t own your own backhoe, you have to plan these things to coordinate burial soon after the vet is scheduled to come out. I also wanted to give him one last chance to see if we could manage the pain and I had just gotten new pain meds Friday from the vet. They didn’t work, and so I was faced with watching my sweet old Eli be in discomfort all weekend… by Sunday night, he went all night without laying down. I believe he knew that if he went down, that would be the end for him, as he wouldn’t be able to get back up. 

Yesterday morning first thing, I called the vet, then the county (who thankfully buries farm animals), and bought all his favorite snacks and a friend was able to help make his last hour just perfect. Very few friends ever got to experience the sweet side of Eli, but as you can see here, he was truly a charmer when he wanted to be....

The county’s road department handles livestock burials and I am extremely grateful for their service and kindness and gentleness in handling my loved ones when burying them. Most of the time they respond to a call, it is for a commodity- mostly cattle or some other for-profit farm animal, and most of the time it’s just a financial loss. When they come out here and realize they are handling someone’s loved one, I think it hits them differently and through brief conversations, they always offer their condolences. The first time I had them come out for Misty, one of the guys empathetically stated they weren’t used to burying peoples pets, offered his apologies for my loss, and assured me they’d be gentle with her. That was my very first experience using the county and the three times since have been equally professional and caring. 

Of course, just like most any time I have important things going on out here, there was a little bit of a diversion. When the vet had come out to ease Eli out of his painful life, he wanted to take a look at Rose’s healing hoof from the barbed wire incident last November. When we all exited the horse pasture, I forgot to turn the fence back on, and guess who decided to walk through the fence just as the county worker started preparing for Eli’s burial? Yes. Rose. After a short-lived moment of free ranging, she was returned to her field with Buddy and Eli was laid to rest. 

I had Misty and Bonnie buried next to each other in a far field that isn’t used for anything - it’s just a pretty field where a 200+ year-old oak looks over, and initially had decided to have Eli buried there as well - to have all my goats together in death eventually, but at the very last minute I decided he should remain in the paddock he’s always guarded. I actually picked a spot on the hill where he regularly stood, ‘keeping an eye out’ for his field and his girls up until his last day.

I’m happy he will always be a part of this field, and his daughter, Ellen, and his mate, Ellie, will always have him near. They are family after all, and were my very first farm rescues …. 

It’s funny how quickly dynamics can change after a death. Yesterday Ellen was visibly grieving her dad, and Ellie (who is completely blind), seemed pretty content and immediately started enjoying the new opportunity to be a 'lap goat'.... 

After Ellen inspected where she watched Eli be placed in the ground, she hung close to her mama, and later I sat in the field with them both, not needing to be on guard for Eli’s horns charging me out of jealousy when someone was getting attention other than him. 

I started to realize that now I get to really dote on my remaining girls. I get to shower them with love and have new and different experiences with them. All losses are hard, but in this case, it is opening up opportunity to share a little extra love with these two that haven’t ever really had the chance to receive it before. My little ol’ meanie Eli, who was my most difficult rescue from start to finish, kept them from getting the attention he got, and now in their own senior years (Ellie is also 14, and Ellie is 13) it was their turn…. 

Tomorrow is the first day of March, the weather has been pretty glorious, and I’m excited to begin a new chapter….the white petals from the blooming tree flowers landed like snowflakes in yesterday's wind....

Happy Tuesday, y’all. 



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