Sara

Living on a farm with animals means at some time you have to face the death of those animals. Sometimes it is wanted, when meat is needed, and sometimes it is unexpected, like when animals become sick or injured. We have had all of these deaths on our farm, and I have helped in butchering animals as well as having sick animals die in my hands. You can usually see it coming, and I am better prepared than when I first arrived on the farm.

However there is one type of death we rarely see on the farm, and that is from old age. Most of our animals are livestock and not pets. There are a few exceptions, like Sheldon, our goose who we raised from a gosling. And Sara, our goat.

Sara came to the farm as a baby In 2001 when we bought our angora goats. Her mother died shortly after and she became attached to us, especially my oldest daughter. The two of them would play games of chase together. She is always the first to come to say hello and have you scratch her between her horns.

Sara

This year we noticed that her age was starting to show, and we knew that she wouldn’t be around forever. She started to separate herself from the flock and was slow to come in from the fields. Last week she became weak, so we kept her in the corral with her own food where the other goats wouldn’t push her.  She spent most of the time sitting, getting up to eat, and giving me the odd “baaa” when I checked in on her.

However, I knew when I saw her Sunday morning that she was at the end, and was prepared for her death later that day. I knew it was coming, and I knew she was in a better place, (wherever it is that goats go to jump and play in their afterlife), but I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt when I covered her grave, knowing I would never see her again. She would have been 12 this year, which is not extremely old for a goat, but was old enough for her.

 

Sara

October 2001 – September 2013

Sara2

 

Reflections or seeing more than may be there

This morning I was up early, awoken by the cats and dogs. while my daughters continued to sleep, and after feeding the cats, our dog, and Sheldon the goose, I tried to take some pictures of my completed stitching experiment.

The sun was also up bright and early.

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And was making it difficult to take a good photograph.

Upright

There were reflections of trees wherever I put the picture frame.

Reflection

However, I started to enjoy the reflections, and began to look at the things around me differently.

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Like Alice and her trips to wonderland, I have Cheshire grins all around me. I even have Absolem, the caterpillar, (from Tim Burton’s version).

We saw this movie shortly before my daughter got sick in 2011, and to make her stay in the hospital easier she imagined everyone as characters from the movie. The mean nurse was the Red Queen and her older sister was the White queen, waving her arms gently whenever we could sneak her in. And Absolem was the scar on her tummy, with prickly little stitches for legs. She would ask him for help, and even though he was rather vague with his answers he comforted her.

For children it is easy to see more than what is actually around them. Their imagination allows them to see the world as a Wonderland.

I hope my daughters continue to see unicorns, where there are white horses, and wise caterpillars where there are scars.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad!

I know the world did not end on the 21 of December, but for some families it must feel like it did. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost loved ones recently.

Ya se que el mundo no termino el 21 de Diciembre , pero para algunas familias yo creo que si fué. Mi corazón va a todos quines perdieron a sus amados recientemente.

Last year I had many Christmas wishes, this year I feel my wishes have been granted. At least in my small world with the people I love.  I have my husband and daughters close, my brother and his wife are beginning a new adventure with their baby boy, and my mother is also making changes in her life. After being a little dramatic in my last post I am accepting the freckle in my eye and will leave the worrying for when it is necessary.

El año pasado tuve muchos deceos navideños, este años siento que todos se han cumplido. Al menos mi pequeño mundo con la gente que amo. Tengo mi esposo y mis hijas cerca, mi hermano y su esposa comenzando una nueva aventura con su pequeño bebe niño, y mi madre también esta haciendo cambios en su vida. Despues de ser un poco dramatica en mi último post, estoy aceptando mi lunar en mi ojo y dejaré la preocupacion para cuando sea necesario. 

I hope everyone has a beautiful Christmas with their family, either with winter cold or summer heat!

Espero que todos tengan una hermosa Navidad con su familia, sea con el frio del invierno o el calor del verano!

The sadness of staying in one place

When I first met my husband, and we went out together, I would get jealous of how he would always run into old friends. Friends from university, high school, or elementary school, from the old neighbourhood or from a football team.  He seemed to know everyone. Most of my life I have spent living in different places, and I rarely “run into” old friends.

I have been living in Chile for over 15 years, and 11 of those years my daughters have studied at the small rural school five minuets from our house.  I have become in some way a part of the community.  I have made friends, and run into them when I am out. It is nice, but it also comes with sadness.

There have been many deaths in this small village, from suicides, and car accidents to death during childbirth.  Most of these people I have only know to say hello, and so during the Masses at the school or the long train of cars to the cemetery I stay back and observe the villagers’ grief from a distance.

Yesterday one of the school’s Tías died of cancer.  She was also the mother of one of my oldest daughter´s class mates. In most Chilean schools the mothers spend a lot of time together.  We work together all year to raise money, we have end of year days out, and even camping trips together with our kids.  We spent nine years watching our children grow.

I have not seen her much since our kids “graduated” 8th grade, but I have many memories of her and how strong she was when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. My  heart goes out to her family, especially her three boys.

Calas negras, from our garden, they only flower in October, and seem fitting.

When farm life isn’t so pretty

Some days are full of jumping lambs and kittens, but not all days.

When you raise animals you have to accept that death will always be present.  Sometimes by choice, (when you want to eat a lovely rooster soup), sometimes because of old age or sickness, and sometimes for more violent reasons.  And sometimes nature only does half, and as farmers we have to finish the job, (of course when I say we, I mean the man we pay to help care for the animals, lets call him R).  Male animals in particular are good at breaking bones, ripping skin, or drowning there chosen target.

This morning while we were getting the girls ready for school I heard cats fighting.  When I looked out the window a large orange cat was shaking are little Darwin like a rag doll.  I chased him off, but Darwin had also run off and the trail of blood only led me so far.  Darwin came back 15 mins later and he seems to have a cut under his chin, but otherwise okay.

After dropping my youngest off at school I checked on my dad’s new puppies.  His dog was on the “pill”, but still got pregnant and had 10 puppies two weeks ago.  They are all fat little things, but one of them was half the size of the others, and of course this is the one my daughters thought was the cutest.  When I looked in this morning I saw that this one had died in the night.

And if that wasn’t enough, when I got home R came up to my house with a piglet.  Always bad news when an animal is brought to the house.  This past weekend I was bottle feeding a piglet because it was weak and cold.  (He went back to his mom but died later in the week.)

But back to today’s sick piglet.  Very fat, too fat and R showed me how the little piglet had been born with no anus.  (I know how horrible! didn’t know it was possible!)  R thought maybe we could “make” him an anus, (argggg! Sorry, you really don’t want to picture that!)  I checked on the internet and it is not recommended.  It is also possible with a blind anus that the intestines are not formed.  So I decided we (he) should put it out of it’s misery.

And it is only 10am.

However this is a hundred times better than what I was doing at this time last year, sitting with my youngest in the hospital the day after her operation for peritonitis.

My oldest cries when animals die on the farm, my youngest is more practical, “we have lots, it’s okay” she says.  It is sad when animals die, but you have to have perspective of the things that are really important.  also in my experience, I have found that when an animal dies on the farm another animal is born, usually in the same week.  Life and death are balanced.

 

Blogging and farm seasons

One of the nice things about writing a blog is being able to look back and see what was happening in previous years.  It is winter here, but unlike last year we have not had any rain in this part of Chile.  This is very worrying because we live in an agricultural area where the fields rely on water from the canals which come from a reservoir, and it is very low.  No rain during the winter means the summer could be very difficult.

This week I have been looking at our olive tree and decided that this weekend the girls and I would collect olives.  My youngest wiggled her way up the trunk between branches to try and get the highest olives.  We collected more than last year, and in the evening I sat slicing them.

Sajando the olives before putting in salted water.

It took quite a while to do this and my fingers were black and wrinkled by the time I had finished.  But it was definitely worth it.

Olives, and kitties, (they get everywhere)

I wrote about this last year in the fall and fruit of trees.  Looking back on that post I can see that the date was almost the same.  Even though this part of Chile doesn’t have very distinct seasons, plants and animals do have their cycles, and it nice to be a part of them.

Christmas trees and goodbyes

This week has been one of change.  The girls are back into the routine of school and we have been waking early to dark misty mornings.  Many countries changed the hour last weekend, but in Chile we will keep “summer time” for over a month more.  We may be in summer “time”, but the season has definitely changed.  In one week the weather went from summer to winter.  (Well, not exactly winter, autumn, but without the wind and falling leaves.)

And if dark morning were not enough to change my mood my mom went back to the Northern Hemisphere.  It was hard saying goodbye.  We have done it so many times, with oceans so often between us, you would think it would get easier.

It doesn’t.

It may even get harder.

My mom getting on the plane

Her leaving hurt, for both of us.  As time passes we understand the importance of family, and with the loss of both of my grandmothers in the past two years we feel it even more.

When I picked up my oldest daughter from school this week, I saw her come out with her friends laughing, and I remembered when I was 15 and my mom would wait for me.  Now, here I am in her place, watching my little girl slowly turn into a woman, knowing she will one day be in my place, watching her children.

There are moments when we just want time to stop for a while.   Like at school pick up, at airports or summer vacations, or Christmas fun.  That is why I left our Christmas tree up for almost four months, (was it really so long?)  Today I slowly took it down, and packed it away in it’s big cardboard box.  I held onto Christmas for as long as possible, but now it is time to move forward.

Also, I didn’t want to break our childhood record of a Christmas tree still being up on my brother’s birthday, this weekend!

Our tree

So Christmas tree packed, goodbyes said, tears all spent, and time to get working!