Friday, January 3, 2014

Death of Esther the goat

I found myself thinking over the years that maybe, just maybe, Esther would beat the dying rap and live on forever. On one very frustrated day, I looked up the life span of goats, and though the average is 10-12 years, the number 30 jumped out at me. If she wasn’t immortal, then certainly 30 wasn’t out of her reach. But the reality of life which is death caught up with her. And I mean literally ‘caught up.’ Esther wasn’t easy to catch, either by us or the grim reaper. The night before she died, Tom was exasperated for the zillionth time when she snuck in the front door of the barn, knocked the top off the grain can, and started eating. And the very day she died, she was out of the pasture roaming around the lawns. Then Tom came in and said she was down. We called the vet and Tom brought her up to the office and Esther was given that last shot. 

The first photo we have of her is this one from 2002 with Bracelet and Annie, all gone now. 



You’ll notice that Annie the white one is much smaller. She was a pygmy goat, our third. Those were great goats. Small, friendly, companionable. We bought Bracelet and Esther sight unseen. The people said they were pygmies, but we knew the minute they hopped out of the truck that they were not. They were regular sized goats. And they were nothing like the malleable, naturally well-behaved little pygmies we had known. From the start, they were trouble. They lived life on their terms. If they wanted to leave the pasture, they did so. The electric fence didn’t faze them a bit. If they wanted to eat down the 55 day lilies Tom planted in his 55th year, they did so. One of my own personal favorite blog entries is about the goats. 

After Bracelet died two years ago, which I noted in this post, Esther only got worse, though I didn’t think it possible. She was an unstoppable force. She was on the move all the time. I would watch her as she took a bite here of daylily, and a bite there of yellow bean leaves, and wondered why she didn’t stay put and enjoy her meal. I looked it up and found out that goats learn about something by eating it. They learn about a plant for a while, and then move along to learn about the next one. She wouldn’t touch tomato leaves or onions, but most everything else among the flowers or vegetables was fair game.

Tom and I knew that when (if) she died, we would feel a sadness, simply because she was such a personality. And we do. We used to call her our outside dog, because she really liked to hang around us when we were out. But we also feel relief. We have some new ideas about the gardens for this summer, and I have been wracking my brain wondering how on earth we would keep her away. Last year she did some big damage. Several flowers never blossomed because she ate them off while in bud. We had to replant the yellow beans because those leaves were a special favorite. 

The last picture of her was taken Christmas eve day out the window as she walked out of her pasture, across two lawns, and out into the north pasture. Just ‘cause.


So yes, there is relief. But yes, we shall miss her.

24 comments:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful and sad post. So glad she was able to spend her years with you!

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  2. It seems Esther was a free spirit from start to finish. I'm sorry for your loss and glad that she had good people taking care of her all these years.
    Mary

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  3. She will be warm where she is now and you can relax and plan future gardens.

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  4. Such a touching post, Nan. I understand your mixed feelings, the grief with the sense of relief that comes with "characters" such as Esther. Still-in-all, I'm sorry to hear this.

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  5. Esther could not have had a better life than with you, people who accept her as she is, and let her live her life the way she wants. She had a great life, and your mixed feelings of sadness and relief are very understandable!
    Looking forward to new features of your garden. Flowerbeds dedicated to the memory of Esther :-)

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  6. Sending sympathy and a farewell to Esther. She was fortunate to live out her years with you and Tom.

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  7. 30 years?! I wish our dogs could live that long.

    Esther sounds like she was quite the free spirit! I'm sure you'll miss her, but I'm glad you and Tom will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors with your new garden plans.

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  8. It sounds like we could learn some lessons from Esther. Having lost my dog in November after many health problems including diabetes and blindness, I understand the mixture of sadness and relief.
    Ann

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  9. There really is nothing to compare with goats! It's over 20 years since I last kept them and I still miss them, even though our old one was evil incarnate at times - all those summer downpours when I'd rush out to get the goats in, only to have the rain stop just as I'd finally got them under cover, so then they'd complain about being IN!

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  10. I'm sorry to hear about Esther. My grandfather kept goats, and over Christmas Mum was remembering how they used to escape and eat anything (even washing on lines apparently), and Mum had to milk them, but they didn't want to be milked and were very uncooperative!

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  11. What a wonderful life she had. And yet I know how that feeling is all too well having just loosing our sweet Dagi last week. We are heartbroken. our pets fill such a special place in our hearts.

    Hugs from Holland,
    Heidi

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  12. Sorry to hear about Esther, Nan. But what a full, long life she had! You will definitely miss her, but will so enjoy the things she would have eaten!

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  13. She was a sweet part of your life and you learned to live with her eccentricities. (I have known people like that... not that they ate the flowers, but the same unstoppable force, do their own thing idea). You do miss them anyway.

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  14. I'm sorry; it's hard to lose an animal even if they're a troublemaker. She sounds like she could have a story or two written about her, and it's obvious you have affection for her.

    The part about the goats eating the 55 day-lilies made me laugh - the word "chutzpah" comes to mind. They ate every last one of them?

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  15. It is always very sad when a being, a living being, who has been part of ones life for some time, leaves us. I am sorry for the loss of your goat, Esther. But I am also wishing you success with your new garden ideas this coming summer.

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  16. My thanks to each of you for your thoughtful and kind replies. They mean so much.

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  17. She must have felt the love, Nan. That's why she did as she pleased - she was content in her 'home' and family. She knew she could get away with most anything cause she was family. :) So sorry to read this - you know how much I love your animals - the photos and stories you share. I have a feeling that I see another goat in your future....maybe after you get over the idea of having a beautifully perfect garden. :)

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    1. That is very true. Remember the line in Groundhog Day - 'I can't even make a collie stay' - well, that's kind of the motto around here. All the animals are their own personalities. But no, we will not get any more goats. We had those three sweet pygmies, and then the next two. We are now sheep and donkey and chickens people.

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  18. What a touching post! I wish I lived on a farm, because I love animals. I love goats. We do have cats but that's as far as we go in urban life.

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  19. Thank you all. Your words mean so much.

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  20. This is an especially marvelous post. Happy 2014.

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