Our Life

Nwansane’s Swan Song

Swan SongJeremy’s goat, Nwansane died in his arms last night. After dinner, I heard a goat crying out in pain or fear. A couple, three times. So I grabbed a flashlight and went outside where I found Jeremy sitting on the top of the third set of stairs with Nwansane on his lap.

She had suffered from bloat and scours (gas and diarrhea) all day. All day Jeremy tried to help her by making her walk around, massaging her stomach and feeding her oil.  I was happy to see that he was with her, massaging her, trying to get the gas to move.

As I stood there she went into convulsions. After a few seconds she was still. We began to suspect she was unconscious or dead and tried to find a pulse. Jeremy held his hand in front of  her nose and thought he felt her breathing. I reached under her jaw where a horse’s pulse would be and felt nothing.

I felt so helpless. Not sure how to be supportive without feeling like an invader. Fortunately Jeremy and I are close friends and he is emotionally stable. He seemed comfortable with me being there. We both began to feel there was nothing more we could do.

I went inside and told Bob what was going on. Although he was lying in bed reading, I hoped he would come outside and make things better in some way. He, the fixer of all things.

After a minute, I went back outside and found Jeremy still cradling the motionless goat in his arms. I felt so bad for him. I didn’t know what to do. The best I could do was suggest he lay her down in the fenced-in garden area away from the other goats.

Jeremy stood up, being careful not to disturb Nwansane and slowly walked down the steps. Her head was flopping, her eyes open and lifeless. I untied and opened the garden gate and he passed through. I heard him sniffing. “You spent the whole day trying to make her better,” I said. I felt very bad for him.

On my way back into the house, the other goats, Go-At and Aponche came to greet me. I bent down to caress their soft coats. I hoped they would provide Jeremy the same comfort they were giving me.

The next morning, Nwansane still lay where Jeremy put her. He got out the shovel and dug her a grave.

Sad, sad, sad. We all know about death. Kitty, dog, chicken; pet or livestock. It hurts when you feel responsible for their lives, care for them, learn to love them and then they die.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.