Shady Apple Goats Newsletter

February is the cruelest month . . .


News from the North Forty Farm, February 2011

There are the things I don't talk much about although they lurk around the edges of everything we do here. The dying . . . I never get used to the sick and dying . . . I went to gather eggs today and our dear Big Maya — one of our favorite hens from our original batch of chicks — was taking her last quiet breaths. She seemed peaceful, still gorgeous with her luminous blue black feathers. Her comb a purple red. I sat with her and just shared how grateful we were for her in our lives. Big Maya was a huge Australorp. She took the place of a rooster in our flock and very gently watched over all the hens that have come and gone. She was first in on the roost every night and first out in her younger years. Big Maya was six years old. Lived a good life I think. Some may think it is crazy but we will truly miss her. We will go find a quiet place in the woods and lay her to rest.

Then there are the bees . . . all three hives died. I keep saying bees are complicated. They are work, to be sure. And this has been a really hard bee year with the warm weather and all the rain in the Fall. I haven't had the heart yet to open up the hives. When the bees are gone the hive feels so quiet and empty. I feel like I failed the bees and just do not have the energy yet to face my own failure.

Then there is our sweet Scoop (Amazing Grace). She is two months pregnant and began bleeding last week Friday. The bleeding lasted for only a couple of days but she continues to be agitated, not eating much, and cries out for us when we leave her side. The lovely Julia (our vet) has been here twice for visits. Today she said "I hate goats — they are so complicated!" We have put our heads together and cannot figure out what is wrong with Scoop. But it breaks your heart to see her so not herself. And to not know what to do to help is very frustrating . . .

Then today the cheese failed. I usually do ok with these big batches of cheesemaking but today was a comedy of errors. The sheep milk took forever to thaw. The pot for the goat milk was too big. Every thermometer needed a new battery. I forgot to turn the burner off for ripening . . . milk everywhere. I guess my heart was just not in it today.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day — warm and sunny. Doug put clothes on and exclaimed "today I am glad to be alive." Watching him fight — and I really do mean fight — everyday just to get one more day and then one more day makes me marvel at the gift being alive is. I try not to miss him before he is gone and run over several times each day just to see him in his bedspread hoping he is sitting at the piano making music — showing me every day what matters is just living. Every day.

There is a cycle. We all live and we all die . . . Big Maya, the bees, the goats, Doug . . . I know all that. But today I just feel sad at the sickness and dying. I feel the loss and just today am going to say dying sucks!