My father wanted another kid, so my mother bought a goat. My sister, Jennifer, was born nine months later.
So now what do we do with a goat? Well first off, we had five acres that was full of boulders and brush. You couldn’t get any machinery to cut the brush or even move some of those boulders. So along came the goats.
My first goat was named Dawn. She was three years old and was due to have a kid in two months. I was super excited because she was my first all-my-own animal. I was totally responsible for her care and feeding. Dawn and I would have entire conversations during her twice a day milking. She would tell me about her day. How she ruled as the queen of the herd; how my petty problems were not her concern, and if I didn’t get a move on she would stomp her foot and tip over the pail of milk (usually all over me).
She loved it when I would take the whole herd up to the powerlines that run behind our house. There, the herd would spread out and gorge themselves on sweet grass and brush. I would read a book or do homework and sometimes we would spend an entire summer day back there, from milking to milking.
Dawn was a perfect name for her because she introduced me to a whole new world. I had to learn about botany, because mountain laurel and rhododendron are poisonous. Then I had to learn about kidding and how to milk a goat. I learned about foot care and how to cut her hooves. I learned carpentry skills when I built a milking stand. I learned how to show my dairy goat who I thought was a black Toggenberg, but turned out to be a Sundau Alpine. I learned how to wean the kids from her, to bottle feed and get them drinking from a pail. I learned how to dehorn and neuter the kids and why it had to be done. And most importantly, I learned that because of my greed, I caused the death of my friend.
You see, I knew that Dawn was 10 years old, but I wanted one last pair of kids from her. So, I bred her for one last time. She suffered a complete prolapse uterus when she delivered her daughter. (Her entire uterus was hanging outside her body.) These things are fairly common in the dairy world, and a vet usually just pushes it back in. But Dawn was 10 years old, and she just couldn’t hold it in place anymore.
So, I had to make the decision to put my friend to sleep. The friend who I confided to, who would always listen to me and just make me a better person. I buried her up in the powerlines which she loved. And yet she taught me one last thing…that my heart could heal, and I had a new mouth to feed and take care of. That it wasn’t this little kid who caused the death but my own greed.
And now, I am crying over an event that happened over forty years ago. The pain is still there. It will always be there. I welcome that pain because there is still a hole in my heart. The pain is no longer a daily occurrence; it does get better. But time does not heal all wounds.
Dawn inspired Peaceful Meadows Online, Perpetual Memorial Park. I want a place that I can go to visit with my friend. A place where I can visit all my pets anytime from anywhere. I want people to know the remarkable goat named Dawn.