When I originally began to write this stream of consciousness essay, there was no way I could have foreseen the events that were to unfold in the next 24 hours. I had my laptop with me most of the time and for some reason I felt compelled to write whatever come into my head as the events were happening. It is only now, three months later, that I am able to go back to what I wrote, add a preface, epilogue and photos to present it for others to read.
October 18, 2006
Imagine your favorite pet: the one you loved the most of all, of any animal you have ever had bless your life. Recall the love you have, or had, for them. Often we love an animal, with his/her unconditional love, unlike any human we have ever loved; this is the love of which I am referring. Now imagine this pet as a major part of your life, influencing all aspects of how you have lived, and even make a living, for the last 11 years. Now imagine this wonderful creature being more than an animal, imagine she be like your best human friend and your foster child. If you can image these things, you may come close to understanding the feelings I have for Goldie, the most wonderful goat you could ever have the pleasure to know.
Goldie resting in the son with her triplets – 2002
Today is a warm day in the middle of October and I have just returned from the barn.
Goldie is old now.
Today, she cannot walk on her own; her front knee “went out” on her again yesterday and if she takes a step she falls. Larry and I just moved her out onto the grass in the sun, which is not as depressing as being in a stall. She can’t get up on her own, so we help her up. She will stand for a little while and then, if she tried to take a step, she’ll fall. I help her into a comfortable position. She resigned. She is a smart old gal. She reaches out her head and nibbles some grass. I pet her and tell her I love her and hold back tears because I know she is nearing her end. It is not fair to this wonderful, strong, loving Queen to live a life like this: a depressed life of frustration & pain. She has lost so much weight, though she’s still about 150 pounds, but that is nothing like the 215 she was just one year ago.. She stopped eating grain and began loosing weight when her feet got bad this Spring. She has always had bad feet, but in her old age, an infection set in in her rear feet which made walking painful. I’d lovingly wash, and carefully trim her feet and treat her in every way I knew how, but healing takes longer when you’re old. She shifted her way of standing, putting all her weight on her front legs and since getting up and down with her arthritis was hard, she would stand all through the night. Now her ‘good’ front knees keep going out on her. It’s just like with a human getting old, things start to go, and one thing leads to another. I know itï’s the way of life: we all get old and eventually die. It’s just so very hard to see it coming. To see Goldie will not be with us much longer. Its tearing me up.
We all must go eventually. I’ve seen my share of death. It’s never easy; it’s always hard, and harder when you truly love the one who’s passed. I’m a Healer. I help people, and their animals, all over the world. I have saved many a life, and comforted many a grieving human at the lost of their love one. Still, this makes it no easier for me. I know a lot about helping the sick, but I can’t cure old age. We have to accept the inevitable. But, it still doesn’t make it any easier. I know the pain of loss; the indescribable grief, and knowing this doesn’t make all this any easier. The lucky thing for animals is that we can help them pass from this life, when this life has no quality worth living to it. We can’t do that for humans, so it is nice we can give this gift to out animals friends. And this, I an afraid, is a decision we are going to have to make for Goldie soon. It’s tearing me up.
And so I must write about her…
Even though it was 11 years ago, I remember the first time I saw Goldie like it was yesterday.
It was in October of 1995. We wanted to get a milk goat, and had gone to a goat show in Knoxville. We didnï’t know a lot about goats then. We were looking for a doe to purchase but had about as much money as knowledge at that time (next to none). Most of the does we saw that were even for sale (there were not many) were out of our league in terms of cost. We looked up and down the aisles and were about done, with no luck at finding a doe and in almost the very last stall was a plain little blond doe stand up and looking at us and screaming her head off. “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!ï” She yelled to me. I went to her and touched her and looked up and saw the sign “For Sale”. I looked at Larry and asked,”What about her”. We decided to wait to ask about her. The person who owned these goats was busy showing her goats so we waited ½ hour. Anytime we’d walk away the little doe would scream to us to come “baaaaack”. She really wanted us to take her home. Finally the woman came and we asked about the doe. She was not an American or Purebred, she was a mixed breed and was $75. I would have paid $100, which to me was a lot of money at the time.
The doe did not belong to the woman but was being sold for by her for a friend. We paid for the little doe, who’s name was Goldie. As we walked her out of the goat area she pooped and her poops were loaded with white things. A breeder who was near by looked and said, “She’s full of worms”, and gave us a look like we were complete rubes, which maybe we were, but I already loved this little doe and so we drove her home. On the way home we stopped at a farm supply store to buy a wormer for Goldie and when I went in the store, Goldie yell for me to come back the entire time.
And so Goldie was seven months old when she joined our then, motley goat herd, which consisted of a little buck named GoatBoy, a wether named Smiley and wild little doe named Little Girl. We first put Goldie and Smiley together in a stall for the night and the next day, GoatBoy was in there with them as well. I had to leave the very next day to go to WV and it’s amusing, when I spoke with Larry on the phone after I had gotten to WV he said, “That doe is the ugliest goat I’ve ever seen”. She was a LaMancha doe with little tiny”elf ears”. I fell in love with her personality so quickly that we didn’t even really notice her odd looks and tiny ears.
Goldie’s first kids “the Bruins” – 1996
Goldie was bred by GoatBoy in the Fall of her first year and presented us with extraordinary twin does in Late Winter in 1996. I remember it was 20* that night she had her first kids. Buffalo Gal and Burrita were brown and black and were identical twins except for one big difference: one had elf ears and one had long Alpine like ears. It was ridiculous, but that was Goldie.
Goldie feeding her daughters Trouble and Blondie – 1997
The next year (her second) when she went into labor she was having trouble delivering. The first time in my life I had ever seen anything born was our first year of goats (the year before), now here it was our second year of having kids. We had never seen anyone assist a birth before and all we knew was from the few books we studied. I ran up to the house to try to find a vet to come help. After ½ hour I could reach no one who could come. Frantically I ran back down to the barn. I was quite attached to Goldie at this point and the though of loosing her was horrible. I entered the barn and found Larry, Goldie and two little babies. Larry told me the story and once again, Goldie proved herself remarkable.
Goldie could not deliver the kids; she needed assistance. I was up at the house. Larry knew he had to “go in” and even with no experience he knew he had to do what he had to do. Goldie stood, with no one holding her. She was not tethered or tied. She just stood and let Larry do what he had to do as best her could. Larry managed to get the kid positioned right and then out come Trouble (so named because of the trouble she caused her birth) and after Trouble came Blondie.
And, of course, Goldie was a great mom and wonderful milker..
Eating a ‘mater
In 1999, came her first set of triplets and something else remarkable. Goldie, who was always a lower member of the herd challenged the current queen, a big bitchy Nubian named Belle. We were present at the battle and a battle it was. Ouch! If you have never seen or heard goats seriously knocking heads, you can’t imagine the force they pound each other with. In the end, Goldie won the battle and thus became Queen. She was a good and benevolent queen as well, and reigned until the Summer of 2006.
A mother you can walk all over – 2000
Assorted Fond Memories of Goldie:
~Goldie was a great mom and loved her babies. Not only that, she was kind to other kids as well. A sight I will always hold fondly in my memory was when one day we came down to the barn and there was Goldie laying on the soft bedding under a large hay rack. Around her, nestled around her I counted 9 kids. She looked up at us with a real smile on her face as if to say “Look at all the babies I have”. She was truly happy with her brood. Only three of the kids were actually her’s, but they were all safe and warm gathered around the Herd Queen.
~When my friend Pete came for a visit, I let Pete have a go at milking Goldie, and she was as good as gold and extremely patient with Pete as he attempted to milk her. She never fidgeted or raise her foot; she was very understanding of his inexperience. Afterward, as she was want to do at that time of her life, she bullied him just a little. She could sense his lack of goat experience, and being 200 pounds, she was seeing what she could get away with. It’s only natural, to make sure the new herd member knew his place. Later on we took a walk. The rest of the herd had moved on, and Goldie stayed back with us, as she often did. She always knew humans were the ones to stick around. You never know what we were going to do. She had been pushing Pete a bit, but as we got to some quite steep land, she moved on ahead single file. Then Pete slipped, he fell and Goldie immediately turned around and hurried back to him to see that he was ok. She was truly concerned about him, and let Pete steady himself on her. After that she didn’t push him, but stayed near to make sure he was steady and ok.
~Goldie had a strong neck and could swing her head around with some force. She always knew where to swing her head and hit men right in the balls. I always though it pretty funny. We often had to warn male visitors of a possible surprise strike.
Goldie resting her head on her new daughter, Quan Yin, after a difficult delivery. – 2002
Yes indeed Goldie is a very special, one-of a kind goat: She’s smart, loves people, loves to be milked, and loves her children. She knows her name as well as understand other words such as “no” and she comprehends what we might want her to do. Most of the time I really feel we understand each other on a level that is hard to explain. She is always easy to work with. These days, we’ve been using a sling to aid in moving her around. Larry on one side and me on the other, holding her up. It didn’t take long for her to figure out what was what with us and the sling and she’ll start “walking” as we bare her weight- she let’s us know where she wants to go.
We’ve been hoisting her up in her sling to get her weight off her feet and so that I can work on her feet. Again, she understands the drill, and puts up bravely with her treatment. Afterwords I always give her a couple corn chips as a treat, which she appreciates.
We decided that 2004 would be Goldie’s last year of having kids. She would be 9 years old which, we felt, was a good age to retire. With her not-so-great feet and tendency to have multiple kids, as well as needing occasional assistance with kidding, we decided not to put her through the strain anymore. We promised Goldie that with this last kidding, she could keep a girl to stay with her for the rest of her life. We also let her breed Ulysses, whom she has always loved.
The first day of Spring, 2004, we knew she was closed to kidding so right after morning barn chores, I decided to run to town for groceries so I could be back to be with her that afternoon (when we though she would kid). I went to town and when I returned Larry was not at the house. I turned on the barn video monitor to see if Larry was at the barn and I saw him, Goldie and kids. Larry said hurry down to the barn. When I got to the barn, Larry was standing in the center isle and smiling. I looked into Goldie’s stall and there she was standing there happy and proud as can be with FOUR babies!
Larry told me how he was working in the barn and Goldie came over to him as if to say “it’s time”. She went to the kidding stall door and said “let me in, it’s time to have my babies”. Larry told me how the birth went fine and he had already gotten everything all cleaned up when Goldie revealed her surprise. She had already delivered triplets, and Larry figured that was it. We had never had a goat have more than 3 babies and so it never occurred to us that Goldie had another kid left in her. Larry was all cleaned up and ready to head to the house when Goldie started to push to deliver the fourth kid. It was twisted and Larry had to “go in” to straighten it out.
Larry kept saying (jokingly) “Four babies? Goldie, what were you thinking?”
Goldie stands proudly with her quads, here just a couple hours old. – 2004
There is another story I have written about the female of the four, Goldie Jr , which you can read here.
When Goldie’s last daughter, Goldie Jr. was an adult, we came down to the barn in the morning and found that Goldie Jr. had her head stuck down low in a stall wall. She had been trying to get at some hay that had fallen from the hay rack in the stall next door and managed to get her head stuck. She was pretty pregnant a the time and was laying on the ground looking a bit uncomfortable, Now, normally this could have been a dangerous situation because a stuck goat could easily be the target of pot-shots from other goats, but Goldie Jr. was safe. Standing above her, guarding her, resting her head on Goldie J’s back was Goldie. She stood all night protecting her daughter.
Goldie resting with her daughter Sadie – 2000
I spent this afternoon writing about Goldie. She spent the afternoon in the sun. We just returned where we helped her back to her night stall. She knows the drill. She can’t stand up on her own, but see us with the sling and trying to get up enough for us to get the sling under her. Together we muscle her up and she “walks” to her stall, with us supporting her weight. It’s an ordeal, but we are will to do if for her. Put stand her in front of the hay rack and give her a couple of chips. We pet her and tell her we love her. I’m not sure how long this can go on. She’s a great gal; she lived a great life. She will always reside in my heart and mind.
I love you Goldie.
October 19, 2006
This morning when we went down to the barn we found Goldie sprawled out and moaning. She could not right herself. We got her in a comfortable position and I held her so she would not roll over.
In my arms, as I wept and told her how much I loved her, she went to sleep. She told me she was so very tired and wanted just to sleep. We thought when this time came the decision would be so hard, but in reality it is not our decision at all; it is hers. We will make the necessary arrangements today. She deserves to rest and pass from this life with dignity. I already miss her so very much.
How could I have guessed, when I started writing this yesterday that today would be like this?
I’m stunned and numb. 1/2 hour ago I was holding Goldie in my arms. She was resting her head on my chest and I lay my head on hers. She was comfortable and calm in my arms. I was crying. Now, she is gone and I wait in the barn for the cremation person to come take her away. Goldie was strong, and it took longer than I though it would for her to pass from this life. But now she is at peace at she can move on to the next life.
Now I’m back at the house. It’s 11:45 am. It all happened so fast. We went down to the barn at 8:00 am. Less then four hours later there is a huge hole in our herd and in my heart that can never be refilled. She’s really gone now. We’re suppose to get the ashes back this afternoon. I have her collar draped over my neck. In the barn, when I put it there, it was still warm, but now it is getting cold. I’m just so stunned and sad. I’m sad because I don’t want her not to be in my life anymore, but, it would not have been fair to her to make her stay. It was time. She was a great lady, a great Queen; the matriarch for our herd. She was the foundation of our herd and so could be considered the center of my life for the last 11 years. Thank you Goldie. Thank you for being a part of my life and giving life to our herd.
Born: March 11, 1995
Died: October 19, 2006
Her legacy will continue on….
Goldie gave birth to 22 children in 9 years:
1996: Buffalo Gal Bruin, Burrita Bruin
1997: Blondie, Trouble ‘A Bruin
1998: Sparkin Spartacus
1999: Sadie O’Grady, Yosh, Stan
2000: Nilla Puddn’, Willie
2001: Niblets, Walden
2002: Joyce, Harvey, Quan Yin
2003: Martini, Rossi, Rob Roy
2004: Lane, Shane, Zane, Goldie Jr.
~Molly Bunton, October 19, 2006
We spread Goldie’s ashes on a Oct. 21, 2006, two days after her passing. I could not let her physically go before that. It was an incredibly beautiful day. The light was wonderful and had a golden cast to it. I took photos in celebration of Goldie that morning which you can see here. We spread her ashes where she always liked to lay, and watch me garden and the herd graze. I took photos when we spread the ashes as well. Her ashes got all over my hands and the ashes in turn got all over my camera. I thought it was fitting. Goldie will always be with me when I take photos.
I miss Goldie so very much.
She was a wonderful friend, and the most extraordinary animal I will ever have the honor to have known. There will never be another like her.
Goldie’s ashes dusting a Fall leaf – 10/21/2006