Today was the day that lovely vet Peter had been booked to come and send our dear old Betty goat to join her sister Wilma in goatie heaven. Over the past few weeks, Betty had become increasingly frail and, although still eating well and happy, we decided that she should be put to sleep before things got any worse. Her poor old legs were starting to stiffen up and you could feel her aches and pains whenever she tried to lie down or stand up. Twice this week we have found her lying on her side and unable to get herself up again. So, it was time to say goodbye.
I had been hoping for a sunny day so that we could have one final walk together around the farm. The morning did not bode well, but the sun broke through in the early afternoon and so we set off for a short stroll around her favourite places to have a final snack of docks and thistles.
We finished our walk with her favourite thing - a nice ripe banana - and then we waited patiently for Peter to arrive.
But Betty did not make the journey on her own today as we also had to say goodbye to our lovely Dusty - the girlie with the bone tumour in her jaw. Coincidentally, Dusty was Betty's great-niece.
So, they lie together in the tractor shed overnight, waiting to be taken away in the morning. It would be lovely to be able to bury Betty in one of her favourite spots but, sadly, this is not the harsh reality of farming. Betty is livestock and must be incinerated. All that will be left of her will be an official 'pink slip' and a whole bundle of memories.
Betty and Wilma were our first two goats, all those years ago .. Here is a very young Betty at 4 weeks old when I went to visit them in Essex where they were born:
A couple of weeks later, we brought them back to Kent and that's when the fun began!
And, as a goatling in the show ring, she was unbeatable ..
In 2006 she had her first two babies, Perdita and Morticia .. The first of many kids she gave us over the years:
In 2014 she celebrated her 10th birthday with a special birthday breakfast of fresh fruit, lovingly prepared by goatie Auntie Anita ..
A few years ago, both Betty and Wilma were quite poorly for a short while and so they got a lot of extra walks and grazing to try and build them up again ..
And so they continued, until we lost our beloved Wilma last year. Betty always had the air of a wise old goat .. been there, seen it, done it all before. She was there right from the start and had seen a lot of changes through her 13 years with us. But even Betty goats don't live forever and so we sadly had to say goodbye.
Strangely enough, hares have a special significance in Celtic mythology and the Celts considered that hares had supernatural powers and a link to the Otherworld. It's probably the over-active imagination of an emotional old goatkeeper but I like to think that this was Betty saying her final goodbye.
RIP my beautiful old girl. And our lovely Dusty goat to keep you company.