If you own an animal of any kind, you know at some point, you will have to face death. As homesteaders, death creeps up on us a little more than the average family. I remember all too well our first experience with death…..
Back in 2002, we decided to venture into getting goats, and shortly after that, in 2003, we bought our first steer. We were so excited to be able to drink our own milk and raise grassfed beef!
The cow got along just fine with the goats. He was especially partial to the little white kid doe, named Sadie. She was our only little kid. The cow happened to be white, so maybe he felt drawn to her because of her color. Maybe he was a racist cow? Ahem.
Anyway, we had a Border Collie at the time who just happened to get in the pasture with the cow and goats. He was having a glorious time getting everybody riled up! The cow leaped about running and bucking. Wouldn’t you now it, little doe was right there by him. He kicked her in the leg and she immediately went down. Her leg was broken.
We took Sadie to the veterinarian, who was very experienced with goats. His suggestion was what we feared, to put her down. It would be impractical to get it set as it was a pretty bad break and the cost would be more than we could ever afford.
My children’s ages at that time were 8, 3 and 1. Of course, the one year old was oblivious to what was going on. We tried to explain to them what was going to happen. We all cried! Even the vet assistant cried! It was such a hard thing to accept for my kids. They had never experienced this before, but I knew that it was just the beginning. My oldest asked what would happen to the sweet little doe. I didn’t want to give her false hope, but I told her that Sadie would go to sleep forever, peacefully. Although she wouldn’t be in heaven, we would always have precious memories of her frolicking in the pasture with her big friend, the cow.
Even my three-year-old seemed to really take it hard. He is my feeler. So, I knew that we needed to see her after she was put to sleep. Oh, how sweet and peaceful she did look! My kids questioned whether she really was dead, but the vet assistant gently told them that she was no longer breathing. We pet her and talked to her, with more tears flowing.
It was a bittersweet memory, for I knew that my children learned a valuable lesson that day. They learned what death really was and that there was absolutely nothing we can do to change it. They also learned that a broken heart can be mended by remembering the blessings that God has given us.
As the years have past, each death gets a little easier to deal with. It will happen, sometimes unexplainably, but the children now have learned to guard their hearts just a little. They are not calloused to death, and sometimes their emotions get the best of them, and that is ok. We seem to always find a little blessing here or there after an animal dies.
For God has a plan for this farm, and sometimes He will allow things to happen that aren’t particularly fun. These times are learning times, times to figure out what we could have done better or how we can change something. Sometimes there are no answers, but it forces us to dive into research and find out why. From this, we learn a little bit more about animal health. Blessings? You bet.
He gives and takes away can apply to everything in life, including little Sadie.
Later, as the cow was taken away in the trailer to get butchered, we cried again. But, I will save that for a later post!
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