Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Feeling Powerless

They say God never gives us more than we can handle, but I think God’s got me confused with somebody else.
            No sooner do I get the first round of preliminary results in on KitKat, am I planning a second drive to the autopsy lab today, with twin baby goats, born overnight to my second largest mama, Katie.
            Katie and KitKat (along with one baby each) came from a man who buys goats each spring to clear off his land, then sells them each fall. They never eat chow. They never have names. They live in nature and do what goats do. Like most people who sell goats, once ready to sell, he takes them to auction to be sold for slaughter. It’s a business. Like cows. Like pigs. I don’t judge it. I just don’t eat goats.  I’d been looking for nannies while growing my herd. It seemed a win-win to buy from him and spare their lives.
            His goats were different. Yes, they were pygmies, but the 2 mamas (KitKat and Katie) were quite a bit larger than my original herd of 8; what’s more, my own had been “coddled” as my farmer friend puts it. They eat twice a day in addition of having a field to graze in (or hay in the winter). They have a gingerbread house with heaters and spools to jump on and most important, they all have names. (Naming things is where I’m told I’m screwing up. Folks who raise goats for a living do not name them. Guess I’m just not like the other folks.)
            That said, I was determined not to name these. I had a couple of billies (ie boys) born to mamas of my own this past year. Too many of these in a herd and you can run into trouble, as you don’t want brothers mating sisters and papa’s mating daughters. (We will spare all the Tennessee references here. This is a sad day.) My plan was to find mates for my billies and sell them in pairs or groups of three to folks who are likewise wanting a few pygmy goats around. (They do make wonderful pets.)
            My day started with a call to the autopsy lab to get the results on KitKat. No disease; no parasitic problem; no bruising or trauma. The only thing the vet said looked wrong was she was very, very thin. Of course she’d had miscarried 10 days before, plus three days had passed before I got her to the lab -her preservation, helped by the weather. Still, I figure autopsy people know what they are looking for. She hadn’t looked thin to me. If anything, I'm bad to overfeed my critters. That she might’ve needed more bothered me greatly. She DID have a healthy appetite, right up to the end…All I knew was after her miscarriage, she tested anemic and her legs had weakened to the point that for her last 4 days she was unable to stand up at all. (But still she ate. As a matter of fact, she died with her head in a bowl of food. I took small comfort knowing she left this world doing what she loved most.)
            I told the vet of Katie…her counterpart in the group that came from the man who used them for land clearing. Katie was likewise as large, likewise as pregnant. If she too, miscarried, I was going to be suspicious. But if her goats were strong, well KitKat’s was an isolated case.
            Today we have our answer. The good news is Katie gave birth to two picture perfect twin girls…More precious goats you will never see…The bad news: they did not survive the cold of last night. She had had them outside, not inside the shed where the heat was.
            As harsh as the cold nights have been, yesterday was misleading, as the sun brought a welcome respite. My entire herd spent their day outside sunning and grazing on hay. At any given point I looked to see several goats grazing in the yard, while others were reclined and relaxed and chewing their cuds. Katie was in this mix, looking happy and content. She was right on time for her evening feeding; nothing looked amiss. Must’ve been just after that, when she opted to have them outside the shed and not in it. (Rosey too, wanted outdoors, not enclosed come birthing time. Seems temps don’t matter when nature calls.)
            But they matter to a baby …coming out in a sack of water. Katie had managed to clean them, so they may have survived a little while. They look the way baby goats are supposed to look a few hours after clean up. This morning after eating a rather large meal, Katie led me to one baby. In time, Rosey brought me the other.
            I am torn to pieces as I write. Full of guilt…Full of sadness. I had spoken with a farmer friend last night whose nanny had twins the night before just fine, no heater, no nothing. But his boy next door lost two. “It’s just how it goes with farm animals” he said. I’m sure this is true, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.
            I was talking with a friend in recovery recently about how truly we are all powerless. It’s the human in me to want to say “I could’ve controlled it; I should’ve fixed it.” My mind is certainly doing a number on my heart this morning, after all I could’ve gotten up round the clock. I could’ve kept a closer eye.  Every fiber of the human in me says I should’ve done something different.
            But anymore, I’m not feeling so in charge. What’s worse, I’m not sure what the right approach is for me. On the one hand, I love til it hurts and a part of me likes that about me. On the other, I see where those farmers who don’t name their babies and who, like any good business person learns to “not fall in love with the merchandise” might be better suited for this profession.
            Part of me prays for a thicker skin. (You’d think I’d developed one from all those years in talk radio, but I guess it softened back once I got away from the anger.) But being sensitive to innocent critters –for better or worse--is a part of who I am. Question is: Am I kidding myself to think my nature has what it takes to do this for a living?
All I can say is I’m glad the vote is not today.

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