(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.

My Stellaria.

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.







21 thoughts on “Loss

  1. Heather says:

    I have tears in my eyes. And all I can say is that I am so sorry for your loss and for the heavy weight that you will be carrying in your heart while you mourn the loss of sweet Stellaria. Hugs to you.

  2. Barbara Bangert says:

    Dearest Rachel……You could have been writing my thoughts exactly. But that is what happens when we fall hard for these beloved companions in our lives. Hugs to you and yours.

  3. Meghan says:

    Just want to say I’m so sorry for your loss. May you have moments of peace as you grieve your friend with your whole being.

  4. Knitting Mole says:

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I am sure your family did the very best to care for this gentle creature. Some things are simply out of our control. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Peace

  5. Lauren Wolff says:

    I’m crying with you my friend. I am so sorry for your heartache. She was blessed to have such a loving connected family. Sending all of you big love as you heal.

  6. Kim says:

    I’m sorry about your loss. It is hard, so very hard. I know from your writing that you approach life and everything in it with a great deal of love, respect and mindfulness. Her time here may have been short but it was full of love and care from your kind family. That counts for a lot in my book.

  7. val says:

    Stellaria was her name then? She did look good and cute. But you are right, and what you wrote at the end of your post is in unison with what I’ve thought and experienced many times: it is because you care so much that you suffer so much. Suffering less would mean caring less, and you wouldn’t live like that. Neither would I. I feel sorry for the pain and sadness you’re going through, Rachel. I suppose they are the price to pay for a life that is intense and sincere. xo

  8. Lindsey says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I agree so fiercely with what you say, though, that the heartbreak you experience is the other side of feeling so deeply, and is inextricably bound up with the ability to feel joy. xox

  9. Margaret B. says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss Rachel. I can see in the photo of sweet-faced Stellaria, cuddled in the arms of your giggling children, just how special a friend she must have been. Oh, those wide eyes and floppy ears brought a smile to my face and I can only imagine how much you are missing her.

    Hoping for you a measure of peace among the difficult and sad moments & days —

  10. Karen Solverson says:

    You wrote: “all of this pain and regret and grief are a sign of a life deeply lived.” I couldn’t agree more. Grieve deeply, let your children watch you grieve and understand that deep respect you have for all life and know that while we all try to be superheros, sometimes, it just has to be time to say goodbye. Stay strong, and know your soul will once again soar.

  11. Mary Boucher says:

    Thank you for sharing about Stellaria. We are so lucky to love these sweet beings, aren’t we?
    I wish for your heart- peace and ease.
    Thinking of you,

  12. Kelly Sage says:

    So sorry for your family’s loss. I know that chest aching feeling-it comes back to me even years after, but I wouldn’t ever trade it for the time I had with the friends we lost. Much love and light.

  13. renee @ FIMBY says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I am feeling my own sense of loss right now. Not about animals but about dreams and how I feel I should have anticipated how hard things would be, because if I had anticipated it, it could be avoided, right? And if it was avoided I wouldn’t be feeling this current pain. That’s not the way wholehearted living works though, though I sometimes wish it did.

    I just want you to know I sought out your words specifically this morning because I know you know. Even though we’re quite different in our personalities and dreams, I know you know and that brings me some measure of comfort in my own aches.

    xo, Renee

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