(Unrelated photos from last weekend.)
Moving to our farm and choosing to keep animals was a given.
Chickens and sheep, then a llama, goats and a cow.
Living on a small farm and keeping animals is something I've long dreamed of.
But there were things that came with that decision that I didn't anticipate. Like getting things wrong. Like holding so much life in my hands every day.
And with that responsibility came a depth and rawness of emotion and connection that I should have – but didn't – anticipate.
We fall in love, we do our best, and we sometimes say goodbye too soon.
We try and fail and try again.
And sometimes we fail big. And someone dies.
This winter there was loss. We were inexperienced. Our first lambs were born at 30-below.
It was hard.
I remember feeling like we failed every animal we lost. And I suppose we did.
I wished then that we had known more; done more; been more.
It's hard to navigate with a margin of error that is measured in life or death.
And then spring came and our burden lifted. It turns out lambs born at +40 F do beautifully compared to their arctic-born cousins.
And ease came. We hit our groove.
And I could breathe again, finding peace in the barnyard once more.
But death on a farm is not seasonal. Yesterday morning I lost my favorite farm friend, a goat I had fallen head-over-heels for during the past few seasons.
I was traveling and Pete was home when the sickness we'd been fighting took her down, but she hung on for days until I came back.
She died in my arms within ten minutes of me returning to the barn after four days away.
She was my girl, and I guess I was hers.
And as I held her tired, sick body, comforting and coaxing her to the other side of her pain, my heart broke.
And again I wished I had known more; done more; been more.
Yesterday more than ever.
I wished it weren't this hard.
But mostly I wished that I hadn't let her down.
Today I'm left with an empty stall in the barn and a chest-full of heartache. So many what-ifs, so many should-haves, so much grief.
But I'm also holding this reminder in my broken heart today – that all of this pain and regret and grief are a sign of a life deeply lived.
It hurst this much because I am connected to these animals, to this land, to these lives.
And honestly I can't imagine it any other way.
Less feeling would mean less living. Less depth. Less caring.
Less doing-my-best with the tools that I have and being invested in the outcome with my very being.
Perhaps all this heartbreak just comes with the job.
Safe travels sweet girl.
I am so, so sorry.
And you are so missed.