Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Death Of Animals


YEARS AGO, when I was submitting a short story a week to fiction writing contests all over the country, the title of this post was the title of a short story that won one of those contests. I don't remember the story, but it was set on a farm.

Memory says that within a month of the publication of "The Death of Animals," Adeline, one of our two white mares, laid down in a spring-snow-covered pasture behind the barn and never got up. The look on Job's face broke my heart. He, a 175-pound man against a horse that weighed a ton, tried to get her up, but Adeline was already in shock. We had to call the vet to put her out of her misery.

We didn't have Adeline for very long before she passed, but bonding with animals happens without effort. I was surprised by how much I sobbed when I watched the tractor gently drop her body in the ground.

This morning, Job found Shadow lifeless in her shed. That look on his face.

There was something wrong with Shadow when we got her. I didn't want her, truth be told. She had been rejected by her mother as a little lamb and her previous owners brought her into their house and bottle fed her until she was old enough to go back outside and graze. Why they would part with an animal that needed so much human attention I'll never know.

Anyway, Shadow became stricken with diarrhea a few days ago and got so weak so fast, she couldn't stand up without help. Job stood her up several times to allow her to drink water, so dehydrated she was. We gave her grain and hay and called for advice, but Shadow got weaker and weaker and finally, sometime after we went to bed last night, her spirit left her body.

Job carried her lifelessness across the road and dropped her in the woods. No time to dig a grave. No inclination either, really. If the foxes haven't feasted, I'll probably go cover her body later. Whatever killed her -- bovine virus, a broken heart, both -- I don't want the crows to spread it.

Light, the sheep she left behind, is beside himself. He won't go into the shed they shared. Can hardly stop crying. Soon, he'll have another companion. For now, he's grieving like a lover who lost his lover.


Elize said...

I am so sorry to read about Shadow. And your crops, life can be mean sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I love sheep. I love farms, actually. I'm so sorry you lost your lovely Shadow, and your prized tomatoes to an overnight blight too. Farming can be so rewarding and so heartbreaking all at once. I hope you and your husband and Shadow's companion will overcome the loss.

Marley Greiner said...

I am so sorry about Shadow. It's so sad.

Beth said...

Craig, I feel so badly for you about Shadow. And poor little Light, wandering around inconsolable. The thought of it is heart wrenching. You are right that we bond with animals in a seemless, natural way. God bless our connection to his many creatures and I hope Light find ms comfort soon in a new companion.

Anonymous said...

...a sad day indeed. I'm sorry for you my friend. Hugs
Mr James

muriel may campbell said...

Lovely picture of Light and Shadow.

This is a great post and today I could read it without the tears.

Thanks Craig,



Anonymous said...

So sorry, Craig.