You died on a warm, windless, sunny winter’s day, a day boxed between a blizzard and the promise of thirty centimetres more in snow. A black bird sang a solitary song on a birch branch nearby. Three crows watched atop one of the great evergreens lining the garden. The donkey peeked around its shelter, looking forlornly towards your bed. The occasional rooster call echoed across the frozen ground, and the cloudless sky swathed the earth in a bright blue canopy.
If there was a peaceful day to die, this day, a breath away from spring, was a good day. The sun shined down on you, making your coat warm and cosy as you lay in the hay. Your barn mate walked around you, checking you or perhaps saying goodbye, one more time. No more would you both ram heads together in play, in challenge or in silliness.
Huge mounds of snow surrounded us, cradled us as we waited, for it did seem we simply waited: waited for the last breath, the last heartbeat, the last goodbye song by the bird, feathers glistening in the morning sun.
The peaceful goodbye was much like the place we met you, tucked into the side of the Fundy Shore, surrounded by great trees, at a retreat in the wilderness where things grew wild. Yet, the day of your death was the opposite of our first day together. That day, you were like the wild winds, prancing as if for the first time in grass, meeting strangers who would become your owners.
Your flightiness did not pass without notice. Your skittishness for new things always entertained. When we set you up in the back of our station wagon, you hopped around like beans in Mexico. As we drove away from your birth place, you crouched low, as if you were scared of falling off the car. When we stopped at a street light, you popped up to look around and out the windows, amusing motorists in other vehicles. As the car rolled forward, you dropped to your knees once again to hide or balance yourself.
Once in your new home, you climbed the walls of your stall, raced around at other times, ears pinned straight up, wondering about this new world you had entered. It was fun watching your silly actions as you explored. We visited you often, sat with you and offered treats; you were our first doe and our entertainment.
Once you settled in, you started to teach us what goats did and how they responded to different situations. Some lessons were hard, but we always came out smiling. You proved to us our fences couldn’t keep you in…or out. Wherever we didn’t want you to go, you went. If you couldn’t go under a fence, over a fence or around it, you squeezed your way through it.
Oh, the lessons we learned in the four years we shared together.
Now as we say goodbye on this beautiful sunny March day, we wonder how the days ahead will fair. We’ll talk of you often and compare other goats to you, but be sure, there will never be another goat like you, Spirit of the Valley.
You left us with great memories, a good working-knowledge of how to take care of a goat, and your son. He is two now, having turned that on your fourth birthday. He will remind us of you though we’ll need no triggers to help us do that. We’ll keep him close, and with every kid he sires, we’ll look for a little bit of you in them.
Farewell only in body for in spirit, you will always be with us.