To Love and To Lose
It was a somber weekend here at the farm. Springtime is the season of birth and renewal. We are anxiously anticipating the arrival of the new kids this season. However, life on the farm not only exposes us to the joys of life, but it is also an experience of loss and death. Jordan lost her pony this weekend. Misty, aka Meeps, or The One Eye Love, passed away quietly, surrounded by her herd of goats. Her passing is a loss to our farm family, and my little bean feels it most.
The Bean bought Misty with her own money. She had saved all her birthday, allowance, and Christmas money with the intent to buy a pony. Misty was residing at the farm where we bought our goats. Although she was ancient, one-eyed, and never properly saddle broken, The Bean was determined Misty was the pony for her. She struck a deal with Misty’s owner, and Misty came to live with us with our last purchase of goats.
Being small and agile, Jordan could swing herself up onto Misty’s back with ease. She would ride her around the pasture field with just a harness and a lead rope. When Misty decided she had had enough of Jordan riding her, she would buck to the side and knock Jordan off. If Jordan refused to give up and clambered onto her back again, Misty would try to push Jordan into the electric fence. It was a battle of wills, and Misty was always the winner. Jordan met her match when it came to stubbornness and being cantankerous.
As long as Meeps was with her herd of goats, she was happy. However, the few times Jordan tried to ride her outside the pasture fence, it was disastrous. Misty was miserable and did everything possible to get back to her herd of goats. After years of playing with her and trying to get her to cooperate, The Bean finally became too tall to ride Misty, and Misty was allowed to simply do what she did best, herd the baby goats and eat.
Donkeys are often used as herd protectors. Misty, the miniature pony, was our herd protector. In many ways, she was a lot like a donkey. She was the most stubborn, cantankerous, ill-tempered creature we had on the farm. She thought nothing of kicking poor Boris in the nose if he ventured too close. Seven hundred pound Boris walked a very wide circle around Misty, the miniature pony. Misty ruled the barn with an iron hoof. She had no tolerance for nonsense and often powered thrust simply because she could. She kept the goats within sight of her one eye and played the role of the herd nanny who stayed back at the barn with the babies. She would nip, nudge, and push the baby goats where she felt they needed to be. If the babies were to become too adventurous or too annoying, Misty would bite their ears, tails, and even their backs until they behaved. If the goats moved too far out into the pasture or disappeared into the woods, Misty would pace the treeline until they all returned to where she could keep an eye on them. She was the great protector.
The vet estimated Misty was 30+ years old. We aren’t sure what her life was like before us, but she was appreciated and cared for while she was with us. Misty declined very quickly. She was out in the field with her herd all day Saturday. She ate her oats and was groomed on Saturday evening. She seemed perfectly fine, and no one detected any issues. However, Sunday morning, she was down, and it looked serious. All the goats stood around her in quiet respect. Even Boris laid belly to belly with her in an attempt to keep her warm and comfortable.
We took turns sitting with her, covered her with a blanket, and propped her head up on a folded towel. Misty did not seem ill or to be in any pain. She just seemed tired. Jordan gave her treats and water, but she had little interest in either. We decided to allow nature to take its course; she appeared quiet, comfortable, and content. She was happiest to have her herd near her and us sitting at her head. We all took turns saying goodbye and telling her what a good girl she was, how much we enjoyed her, and what a good barn nanny she had become. She passed quietly in her sleep, surrounded by the people and creatures who loved her and whom she tolerated.
We will miss our cantankerous, grumpy Meeps. The Bibbed Wonder has the task of burying her. I am assuming he will use the backhoe to dig her grave. I would like to bury her in the sunny spot where she most enjoyed lying. However, I’m not sure what The Bibbed Wonder has planned. I do know we all want to give her the respectful burial she deserves.
Farm life affords us many opportunities. We celebrate the births, enjoy the babies, adore the mothers, and all the creatures who enrich our lives. Our farm family members are not just animals. Our animals are part of the fabric of our family. We love them, trust them, celebrate them, and grieve them. It brings me comfort to know that Misty was well cared for and loved while she was here. She lived a quiet, happy life surrounded by her human and barnyard family. Rest well, our cantankerous hay burner until we meet again.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, embrace the opportunity to love and to lose and keep washing your hands.