Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Goodbye Anna

 I just finished burying one of my last three goats.  Anna had just turned thirteen.  Obi is 14 and Moonie 15.  

I picked a spot up near her mother and father's graves in the upper pasture.  They had both died in the winter and been temporarily interred in the stone wall there.  Eventually I dug them proper graves nearby and learned a few things when I did it.

FIrst of all, I do not recommend plastic bags.  I wrap deceased pets in two layers of sheeting or other suitable preferably cotton based fabric. I did Derek in plastic and he was a digusting mess to relocate.  Trust me, a good hole away from any water source, rocks, and fabric.

I left Derek and Cricket's temporary internment sites open with the rocks nearby in case I needed it the future.  Kind of morbid,yeah, but a sad fact of life when you promise to keep an animal for it's entire life.

Today we have a wind advisory and it is blowing.  The trees are creaking and I had the last large fir in the upper pasture blow down on the fence. The pastures are shut off this time of year, and I had to dig the gate out of the ice to get it open. I had to rather unceremoniously drag Anna by her front feet and horns to get her onto the sheet-covered plastic sled.  Moonie didn't want to look.

I got her covered and proceeded to pull her up to the grave location.  I had started to prep it to make sure I could use it, and then decided to get her up there to gauge the dimensions of the grave.  Nothing worse than making one too small, espeically when dealing with an animal you can't lift back out of the hole.

I dug a bit more, setting the diggings on the snow crust to the right of the grave and slightly uphill. The wind chill well below zero, temps in the single numbers and the winds gusting to over 50 mph.  I maneuvered the sled over the hole and managed to fit her in neatly.  I had dug some nice rocks out of the hole and started rocking her in.  I looked over my shoulder and Moonie and Obi were about 50 feet away.  Moonie was faced away.

I pried some rocks out of the pile, and finished rocking her in.  My toes were frozen.so I headed back with the now empty sled to warm up, thaw out, and gather a few things to finish the grave.  I walked by the wethers, speaking some words about "sorry about Anna guys".  I thought they might stay out, but they ran back to the paddock with me.

After I warmed up, I gathered some rose scented geranium, and begonia and red geranium blossoms and made a little bouquet.  I grabbed a small clay pot from near the stove that was filled with rocks that I had dragged home becasue they had caught my eye on daily walks. I took the last (quite ripe) banana and added that to the pile.

SInce I needed to grab a rake on my way back, I stuck my assemblage into a cut off water just that we call "a grain jug". They work perfectly to carry a day's ration of grain to whatever I am feeding--goats, poultry, wild birds, etc.  I was sure the wethers would bomb me when they saw me return with the grain jug, but perhaps lost in their own nostalgia, they stayed in the houses nibbling the morning's hay.

I placed the bouquet between the rocks, placed the hand-picked stones in any obvious gaps, and back filled with everything I had set aside, The big slabs of ice crust went on the top.  It was a variation of my standard grave, whcih is to finish with the stones.  But since the grave was shallow I thought it was better to rock the body.  Once the snow melts in the sping I can get to more rock to finish the top.

Finished, I just had to reclose the frozen gate.  That took some struggles, and at that point Obi came over and started nuzzling me.  I had tucked the banana in my pocket and he could smell it.  He took advantage of my struggles with the gate to pick-pocket a paper towel out of my pocket.  That was the motivation I needed to gather the strength to get the get shut with bare freezing hands while the trees creaked ominously over my head.

Obi followed me over to the houses as I tracked down Moo and split the banana in thirds in celebration and commiseration of Anna, this time with a third to me instead of her. Obi and Moo spilt the peeling from my third.

Good bye Anna

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