All the Things They Teach Me
June 11, 2014 § 23 Comments
Rye’s doe Flora had quadruplets yesterday. Three does and a buck and they all came out alive, though it was pretty clear the buck wasn’t in great shape. He was weak and panting and having a hell of a time finding his feet and there was a fairly steady stream of gunk coming from his lungs. Probably swallowed amniotic fluid or something.
Rye spent the day tending to him. Heat lamp, rub downs, bottle feedings and so on. I even tried sucking the stuff out of him, which of course did nothing but give me what will hopefully be my first and last taste of goat slobber. By late afternoon, it was pretty clear the little fella wasn’t going to make it. I mean, he might’ve lived a while longer, but he was clearly suffering, his head all folded over and his mouth wide open, gasping for air. When I picked him up, I could feel his heart trying to beat its way out of his chest.
So Rye decided to put him down. Do you want me to do it, I asked? No, he said, it was his goat. His responsibility. He got the .22 and carried the little fellow out of the pen. He was choked up. Not crying, but on the verge. Are you sure? I asked. He nodded. He shot.
Life is about many things. One of those things is the ability to hold in one hand that which must be done, even as you hold in the other the sometimes desperate wish that you didn’t have to do it. I’m still learning how to navigate these moments. I bet most of you are, too.
I suppose it could be argued that in a literal sense, Rye didn’t actually have to do what he did; he could have taken me up on my offer. I would have thought no less of him for it.
So in a sense, it’s not that he had to do it. It’s that he felt as if he had to do it.
Maybe I’m selfish to even think it, but you know what’s one of the coolest things about having the boys around so much? All the things they teach me.