Saturday, February 22, 2014

Feb 16, 2014—Berry

 I always loved Berry's big floppy ears.

 Another day starting in the hex a few degrees below zero. The dawn was improving. A yellow light becoming by vague turns almost purple decorated the east through the stark trees. Clouds warning of coming weather obstructed the light and were so back lighted as to take on fantastic, distinct shapes. As I went this morning into the barn for chores, I had a bad fright. I found Berry still asleep. Her head lay back over her curled up legs so still I thought she was dead. I touched her several times before she awoke. Usually, the goats hear me coming and are up and waiting for their grain. I was even this morning a few minutes late. Berry is getting to be very old for a dairy goat that has been as productive in her life as she has been. She has been down a lot lately. I have never seen dairy goats annoyed by the cold, unlike cows, which can get downright bitter in extended below zero weather. Goats in general seem more disturbed by the dark, the long winter nights, as they tend to bed down even in the coldest weather near some opening where they can absorb stars and moon. Over the past few years we have paid careful attention to Berry's feet. But the front pads have in the center a soft bulging spot that is a symptom leading to founder. Animals which tend to be down a lot die promptly. Although she always appraised well, in the high eighties, and her showing career went on for many years, she never got finished. She needed one more best in breed. Show after show she would judge first or second or third in class, owing to a magnificent general appearance, but she needed one more best in breed to get finished. Her udder was flawed. She had better than average milk and her udder was attached suitable to the occasion, but the show judges did not see her how I did. So I became especially attached to her in ways I never became attached to our other champions. Berry had the distinction of a fatal flaw. A slight nip and tuck to the sinews holding her udder in place and she would have been many times a champion, maybe a national champion. It was her fatal flaw, her Hamartia, the disrupter of dreams, which draws me close to Berry, our magnificent failure. She was like an athlete who could not win the big game, or a soldier distracted from battle by his gentle Cleopatra, or an artist who lacking judgment dreamed his life away and died unknown, his books in boxes in the attic. I am hoping that Berry will live till warmer weather, and I'll try to clean up her feet, though nothing I have done over the past year has helped but to increase her suffering. But maybe in the Spring with the warm sun and the ground softer she might rise out of her funk and live a little longer. This winter has been ghastly long and shows no sign of quitting soon. There will be warm spells, though. I hope she will be in the warm sun when she sees her last. She was always the first one out of the barn to browse on a sunny morning, and the first one beside the fence to greet a passer by. I have felt the failure in her life as if it was my own, and I will miss her passing through our barn more than any one of the others.

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