December 30, 2015

Funny thing about living on a farm-it always manages to keep you humble.  See, I had this wonderful chirpy ‘Happy New Years’ Blog all ready to share with our followers.  It was filled with the exciting things that we have been doing on our farm with the remodeling and all the planning we have been doing for 2016, which as my chirpy Blog states, is going to be absolutely the best year we have ever had in our life, and then I had a reality check.  Reality checks on the farm usually come with a certain amount of frustration, sadness or possibly both.  In my case, it came with an epic dose of sadness and instead of looking forward to 2016, I have found myself reflecting over the past 15 years—you see, that is how long Abby Ann has been with us and we lost her today.

I think it is difficult for some people to fully grasp the affect that these animals have on us, but for me, my heart is made up of lots of little pieces and each piece is directly related to goodness in my life.  So much of that goodness comes from the joy I get from caring for each of these wonderful creatures that God has entrusted to us. It isn’t just a goat to our family; Abby was a lovely animal that helped us to shape our daughters, our farm and our lives.

Abby was the Jane Fonda of goats.  In fact I commented to Shaun last night when we were going through our regular nightly routine of ‘cookies’ (special Apple & Oat treats) and grain and special geriatric girl attention, that Abby Ann was still a beautiful doe even at the age of 15.  I can only hope to age so gracefully!

Abby and her sister Meg were our first monumental leap in our breeding program.  We had nice does up to that point, but we found the magic combination with those two.  I can recall Amber showing at the State fair the year Abby and Meg were babies and overhearing a group of women talking about what beautiful doelings they were.  It was the first moment that I felt utter pride over our little herd.

Abby was the sleeper of the two sisters.  She was the late bloomer.  I remember going to a show when she was a yearling and her sister Meg (the beauty queen) was at the front of the line and Abby was solidly taking up the rear.  I recall the judge saying Abby was too frail and wouldn’t be able to hold up as a productive doe for any period of time.   Hmmm….Abby kidded as an 11 or was it 12 year old.  Granted, it was a difficult kidding that resulted in a C-section, but she was a productive part of our dairy herd for more than a decade before she retired.   Don’t ever make hasty decisions about your animals.  Some of us just take a little longer to blossom.

Abby was the last of our show string.  She represented miles traveled, irreplaceable memories as a family, life lessons that only animals can provide and the conclusion of a remarkable chapter in our lives showing our goats.  We will no longer have permanent grand champions—Abby was the last.

As I spent the day reflecting over all the fairs and shows that we shared with Abby, I realized that as we lost her today, we also lost the last fragile thread between some of our happiest memories as family and the present.  She was the living bridge between then and now.  Every time I gave her cookies or led her around or watched her go into the milk room I could look at her and remember how she helped Amber learn how everyone (and every goat) can have bad days- was it Nationals 2005, Amber? When I held her collar, she automatically began to ‘show’ (right up until last night) and it made me remember how she taught Amber to learn grace in losing as well as winning.  Looking at her as a beautiful elderly doe, I reflected on how by her late blooming our daughters learned to look beyond what other people’s opinions were and make opinions for themselves. How by her slow maturing, our daughters learned that good things come to those who wait.  So you see friends, Abby Ann wasn’t just a goat, she was a very special piece in my heart that helped Shaun and I raise our daughters and teach life lessons.

She had a great run!  She lived a charmed life and will be immortalized on our milk label as the epitome of health, beauty and contentment that we hope depicts life for a goat on our farm.

As always, she went out teaching us lessons– focus on what you are blessed with today and leave tomorrow to tomorrow. Thanks for the reality check old girl!  Rest in peace, Abby Ann.


Shaun & Lorrie