Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holidays on the Farm

Maybe the title of this should have been "managing multiple priorities". The holidays come and go, but the farm is a constant in our lives. Over the years, I have tried desperately to create a holiday environment that is much much calmer and much much more peaceful than those that I lived through in my younger days. However, they somehow still have that "tug" that makes me feel like I should be moving faster, along with that voice in the back of my head saying that I certainly have" forgotten something"... details and more details.
That is why this year was remarkable, well almost. I really did feel calmer. I really was perfectly okay at accepting my limitations in terms of gift giving.. and I set all kinds of limits on what activities (parties etc) that I would commit to. I was feeling very proud, "together" and quite peaceful until about 3 days before Christmas.

My shopping was done, the party for our knitting group was a huge success, even the gifts were wrapped. I was delighted that I was going to see my brother, for lunch, on Christmas eve day. He was going to be in Rutland Vermont on business. He would be traveling through Manchester on his way back to the Boston area ... I guess this was a highlight of the holiday for me. Given the distance, we have not been able to spend Christmases together very often.

Two days before Christmas, I was doing barn chores and noticed a goat kid standing with one side up against the barn. On the other side, his mom was standing directly along side of him, almost leaning into him. Something in the back of my head said "oh that's so cute!", and then, I had second thoughts and looked again. I nudged mom away and the kid started to sway in his hind end. I watched him walk and thought... perhaps he got banged around and injured his leg. I finished chores, all the while keeping an eye on him.... He was definitely compromised.. But, usually with injuries, they sort of heal on their own.. over time.. the conundrum I was having was trying to decide if I should "wait and see", or if he needed more immediate veterinary attention. I will not bore you with the myriad of possibilities of what could have been wrong. But, they were plentiful.
The next morning, Christmas eve, he was most definitely worse. We put him in a pen for his own safety. A place where he could be safe and warm, and we could get our hands on him if we needed to. We also put his mother in with him . This little guy was born in April, and his mother still bellows when he is out of sight. It was comforting for them to be together, and I know that some people think I am nuts, but she really seemed relieved that we were tending to him. She watched over him, and us. She looked at us as if to say "I have been holding him up for a couple of days now, it is your turn, please help".
So, now it is time to visit with my brother. I knew I had to get to the vets for some medication. Did they close early today given that it was December 24Th? Do I cancel lunch with my brother and tend to McGuire instead? I chose to have lunch with my brother, and dash to the vets afterwards. It is something that I have always struggled with, the people vs animals prioritization. I was lucky this time, McGuire was no worse for the wear when I got back, armed with medications... and I had a wonderful lunch with my one and only sibling. PHEW!
Then came December 25Th. I had tried my very best to not have a veterinary emergency on this day... however.... my miracle meds were not working and little McGuire was, as we say, "down". He could not stand when we checked on him in the morning ( I must mention though, he was still eating like a goat, or maybe more like a pig, of course). Christmas morning we called the vet... we felt pretty darn guilty about it. In the background we could hear her baby making joyous noises, and we felt awful intruding. However, being the true skilled professional that she is, she made a diagnosis on the phone, and it turned out she was "spot on". McGuire had meningeal worm....... a parasite originating in white tail deer that gets ingested when livestock are on pasture. It effects the spine. Over the phone, the vet described the treatment, and luckily, she did not have to come out. We did make one more call later in the day, mostly for clarification and reassurance...
All the while that this is going on, and we are making trips back and forth the to barn, calls to the vets... our family sort of managed to "do Christmas" around the farming tasks. We opened gifts, Nancy cooked a spectacular meal... we ate, laughed, visited and enjoyed the day. We have all just incorporated the farm into the pulse of our lives together. It was like watching a symphony, one beat at a time, we went with the flow of the day. Experiencing this, and knowing this, somehow made this day, this Christmas, more special than all of the rest.
I guess the lesson for me has been, it is not the absence of chaos that makes your life great, it is the manner in which you respond to it......
I sincerely hope your holidays were as wonderful as ours....
Peace and Blessings,
PS: If you raise livestock, and have not heard of this menigeal worm.... you might want to look into it... soon. It is pretty nasty, but caught early, it can be treated.
By the way, McGuire is on his way to recovery. He and Fiona, his mom, are back out with the flock.

1 comment:

Eulalia (Lali) said...

Sheila! I'm so glad I found you! I love your blog. Your account of Christmas was touching and funny. Good job!