This was a tough week. I knew that it was getting time to think about easing Stephanie out of pain.
Stephanie was a Toggenburg goat that my son, Chris, got in his second year of 4-H. She was born February 15, 2003 and we brought her home as a few-day-old kid and bottle fed her. As the years went on Chris raised many other goats from the offspring of his only purchased goats, Susannah and Stephanie. Stephanie is the goat who stayed here after Chris got out of high school and moved on to other things. In the last three years or so I have been the goat care-giver and Stephanie has been my friend.I can’t find any baby photos of Stephanie but this is her at about 6 months at the State Fair. She first kidded at age two and Chris showed her every year along with his other goats. That’s Stephanie on the left in this photo. She was never as productive or showed as well as the other goats, but she was my favorite to milk, because she had hand-sized teats instead of finger-sized ones. That’s Stephanie in the lead in this photo and Chris’ favorites, Trista and Suzannah, along with SparkleBerry, a Nubian who somehow ended up here. Dairy goats are bred to produce more milk than their kids can handle at first and we milked the does and bottle-fed the kids. That’s my mom drying one of Stephanie’s newborn kids.Stephanie might not have been the top show goat, but she had her good days. Reserve Champion at the State Fair in 2006.
Chris graduated from high school in 2009 and after he showed goats one more summer, most of the goats were sold to people who wanted to show and/or milk them. I didn’t want to do either. Stephanie became a “personality” here.
In 2010 I bred her to kid at the CA State Fair Nursery, where I also take pregnant sheep to lamb. I handled this like we do with the sheep and Stephanie got to raise her own kid. In the last couple of years I often found Stephanie “hiding”. I think that maybe she was annoyed by Amaryllis, the donkey, who though of Stephanie as her best friend. I don’t think the feeling was mutual. Stephanie was beginning to have less mobility and she couldn’t easily move away from someone who was bothering her. For the last year or more Stephanie had her own stall at night so that I knew that she would get enough food. She was too stiff and arthritic to walk out to the pasture unless the sheep were grazing the closest one. Last winter was hard on Stephanie. I put a coat on her and gave her a heat lamp at night. The recent heat wave (though short at 2 days) was equally hard for her and the summer will only get worse. I talked to my veterinarian about her the other day and told her that I don’t think Stephanie ever lies down anymore because she is so stiff and sore. I would find her sleeping on her feet with her head resting on a bale of straw. We agreed that it was time for her to go. As the vet said, it’s better to make the decision a week too soon than a day too late. Stephanie died this morning as sat on a bale of hay and held her head. It was very peaceful and she didn’t suffer at all. This whole thing makes me think of my mom who died of Alzheimer’s 5 years ago. It would have been kinder and more respectful of her had she been able to die long before she finally did.