Often I tell people how much I love my job, and it is true. I am incredibly blessed to work on a farm where sustainable food production takes place. This is a farm where the animals are loved, well cared for and treated with respect and gentleness. I have kind employers, and I feel valued. Every day I am able to work doing something I love, and something I believe in. I am truly blessed.
What I don’t often tell people is that farming is incredibly hard at times. It can be physically challenging – but that is not what I am referring to. I am able to cope with heavy labor, and some long days. What I find far more challenging to cope with is the heartbreak I feel when we fear we might loose a life, and when we do loose a life.
Let me tell you the story of Joan.
Joan has those same long beautiful ears that all Nubian goats do, and the largest, most beautiful brown eyes of the whole herd. She has long, wispy eyelashes, and soft, fluffy fur…. she is significancy smaller than most of her herd-mates; a petite, delicate, sweet little goat. She is shy but very affectionate once she gets to know you. She will stand for what seems like hours with her eyes half closed, and head tilted up with what looks to be a little smile as I give her love and shoulder scratches. She is just a little love bug.
Earlier this year, in spite of our best efforts, Joan’s health had diminished, and she had become so weak she was having a difficult time standing without help. Everyday we would give her extra care and attention, supplements and medicine, electrolytes and love. One day I was sitting on the hay next to her as she was resting. She lifted her weary little head and looked up into my eyes. “ma-a!” She said quietly. Then she rested her chin on my lap and went back to sleep. It was so sweet. I began to think about the probability that she wouldn’t survive, and I let a few tears fall into the hay.
That was when it occurred to me that I should pray for her. The bible says that God’s eye is even on the smallest sparrow, so surely it is on little goats too. He created her, after all! I laid my hand on her weak little body, and prayed aloud for her. I asked God to give her body the strength it needed to heal only if there was good health and a wonderful home in her future, and I asked that He take her in her sleep if there wasn’t. She continued to sleep with her head still resting on me, and I wondered what would happen to her.
The next day when I helped her stand up, she was able to stay standing on her own – even taking some wobbly steps around her pen, and munching some hay and grain. The day after she ate even more, and walked more steadily. Three days later, she was finally able to get up on her own, and was eating and moving normally. On that day, I knew she was going to be ok. God said yes.
Joan is now about 10 pounds heavier, and much healthier. She went off to a wonderful new home last week. Vicky has received several updates about how well she is settling in, and the new owner said she seems like she has lived there her whole life. She is being doted on, given special feed to help her gain more weight, and being given lots of love. I couldn’t ask for a better place for her to live. This year, I leaned the joy of having health restored to a creature you love.
This spring, I have also learned the heartbreak of losing creatures you love. Occasionally, a new kid is born with a defect, and only lives a day or two. It saddens me, but I pray the same type of prayer that I did for Joan, and I trust God to use our hands to heal it if He sees fit. I know that because I am fortunate enough to work somewhere so full of life, I am also going to experience some death. I am comforted by the knowledge that God is merciful, even in death.
I think heaven holds a place for animals, and Jesus just might even have a bottomless peanut bin for all the goats. Who knows? 🙂