There's no easy way to say this. Peyote died today.
5 days ago Peyote was having trouble standing up. I isolated her from the herd and ended up bringing her inside our home. Other than not being able to stand she had no weird symptoms. Her appetite was fine and she was drinking fine. I administered CDT and BoSe and drenched her with electrolytes and probiotics. The next day I kept drenching her. Again, no loss of appetite and nothing odd. Her eyes were bright and her disposition was calm without being lethargic. She just couldn't stand up on her own.
I, probably inaccurately, attributed this to the fact that she has just three legs (the result of an amputation last Spring). When the amputation happened the vet said he was concerned as to how she would fare over the course of her life so I thought, maybe, her leg was just failing. This week I got in touch with a prosthetic company to see about getting Peyote an artificial leg.
When Peyote started to show signs of getting stronger, although still unable to stand, I moved her outside into a smaller area with her two babies. They kept her warm and I continued administering electrolytes and probiotics. Again, no loss of appetite.
And then this morning Peyote took a turn for the worse. I knew it as soon as I went down to check on her. She just looked "off". Throughout this whole week she has still looked and felt like Peyote, just unable to stand. But this was different. I immediately called the only vet clinic that will see goats (which is an hour south of us). I talked to the on call vet and told her everything. She was stumped but told me I could bring her in. She then told me that because they were technically closed I would be paying the emergency fee and that all services would be marked up 150%. Bringing in Peyote would mean another $600, right off the bat, with no promise of an answer. As I was working out in my head how I could make that work the vet then told me that she wasn't really that familiar with ruminants and that the ruminant vet (who did Peyote's amputation) wouldn't be back in until Monday. This worried me. I have spent A LOT of money in vet clinics who claim to know goats and don't.
So then I took a long shot and called our traveling vet. As luck would have it he was right around the corner from the farm. He showed up within 15 minutes and we developed a plan of action. Although he didn't know what was wrong with her he could tell that she was very dehydrated. We took her back inside the house and set her up with an IV. He left me with two more bags of fluids and said to call him when they were all administered.
Gizmo and I sat with Peyote in that bathroom, singing her songs, and just trying to make her feel better. Giz kept saying, "You're okay Peyote. You're okay. Mommy takes care of you." After I put my daughter down for her nap I snuck up to the loft and gently asked Matthew (who is in the middle of working a string of nights as a nurse in the ER) if he wouldn't mind changing Peyote's bag for me. In the emotion of getting her settled in, and the fear of losing her, I had spaced on how I was supposed to change them and I was worried about getting air in her line.
This poor, tired man didn't even bat an eye. He got up and walked in the bathroom and changed the bags like it was nothing. Instead of going back to bed and he stayed up and sat with me and my goat.
Later that night Peyote took a turn for the worse. All three bags were administered and Matthew was getting dressed to head to the hospital when she just started convulsing in my lap. I burst into tears. Giz patted me on the back and said, "It's okay Mommy, Peyote's sick. It's okay" and I just wept even more. When my girlfriend wrote me to see if we were still on for dinner I told her I had to cancel because Peyote wasn't doing well. And then I cried some more. A lot. I held that goat so close to me and willed her to stay alive.
As I was in the bathroom with her, my sweet daughter reading me books, my goat in my lap, I heard the door to my house open. It was my girlfriend, her husband and their son (who happens to be Giz's best friend). My amazing friend came in the bathroom, dropped to her knees, and held me tight while I cried in her arms. Peyote died within 10 minutes of them arriving, with the three adults sitting in the bathroom and the two kiddos playing just outside the open door. I held her for a long time after she died. I had been keeping a heating pad on her because the IV fluids were making her chilled and so she, falsley, felt like she was alive even though she wasn't. I made my girlfriend's husband (who is a Physical Therapist) confirm for me over and over again that she was indeed dead before i would let her go.
He carried her into the barn for me, so that Matthew and I can honor her body when he gets off work. Meanwhile my girlfriend busied herself throwing all the messy towels in the washer and putting together the dinner they had brought for Giz and I. While I had managed to feed my daughter throughout the day I suddenly realized that I had barely eaten since Peyote started going downhill. It was then, in that moment of sadness and hunger, that I realized, just how lucky Giz and I are.
We have a man in our life who loves us enough to agree with turning our bathroom into a sick ward, to wake up in the middle of his night to administer IV fluids, to stay up and keep me company despite having to work another 12 hour shift, and who, upon learning that Peyote had died, wrote me a note to say, "I'm sorry you lost your friend today."
And we have another beautiful family in our life who completely changed their plans, brought us dinner, cleaned up our poop towels, carried our dead goat out of the house and started a fire so our house would be warm and cozy again. Perhaps, even more than all that, we have friends in our life who hold us tightly while we cry.
I have never been a hugger. But, when I fell in love with Matthew, who is a huge cuddle bear, I began to understand what this whole hugging phenomenon was about. Sometimes you just need to be held. And I have an entire village of people in my life now that are not only willing to hold us in our times of sorrow, they want to.
I am devastated by Peyote's death. In times like this it's comforting to say, "I did everything I could." I'm not sure I can say that. Like most goat owners I tried to remedy the situation myself. Most of us are used to vets not being able to treat our animals so we get resourceful and creative in treating these beloved creatures. The chances are good I waited one day too long to call a vet. Except that one day was Christmas Day and neither of the two goat vets in our five county area were working. I don't know what to think about Peyote's treatment plan and honestly, we don't have answers as to what went wrong.
Here is what I do know.
Peyote is still my spirit animal. She has been fighting for her life almost since day one. And she made it really far, despite all the odds. She brought two beautiful babies into this world and has taught me more life lessons than I can count. Peyote died, in my arms, knowing that she was loved and cherished. Her coat will be buried with my tears in it and her memory will live on forever at this farm. In fact, I just recently got the prototype labels back from the artist who turned a likeness of her into our future Farmstead Creamery cheese labels. There will be a Three Legged Gouda and Peyote's face will be the face of our cheese.
As I was laying next to Giz in her crib tonight (yes, I climb in her crib with her) both of us laying on our sides, facing each other, she reached out and touched my face and whispered in her sweet little voice, "You're tough mommy."
"I am tough," I said.
"We're both tough," she said. And then she curled her little face into my neck and fell asleep. And I cried some more.
We are tough. But you know what? Being tough doesn't mean you can't cry. And it doesn't mean you have to do it alone, where no one else can see you. I used to think that was the case. Now I know, it's not.
Just one more life lesson Peyote taught me.