Goat therapy. By now, just about everyone has heard of it—at least if you are into yoga and/or alternative medicine! Long story short, the summer after Josie died, I bought myself a few goats. I figured they would give us nutritious milk, and be a good “distraction”—something to keep me moving. What started as an intention to buy two momma goats, ended up being more like four mommas…plus one buck! Our herd is now about 30 goats strong… whoops! Needless to say, we have lots of creamy milk, and plenty of goat therapy to go around!!!
I didn’t realize until today just how special this little herd was to me. My oldest momma, Déjà (short for Déjà Vu), had trouble birthing. She was the last doe of this season to have her babies, and the only one to have difficulties…She is also my oldest momma.
After pushing for some time, it was apparent the baby was not coming out on its own. Gratefully, my highly experienced, ranch-hand husband was able to assist this poor momma. He saved Déjà’s life, but the baby goat lost its own in the process. As I tried to comfort my tender momma goat, tears streamed down my face.
She was so utterly heartbroken. As I observed this momma transfer her mothering instincts to me now, my tears grew to torrents. She began licking my hands and arms profusely, as though to clean off her newborn baby. Watching her scour her surroundings for any sign of her little one (that had now been carefully removed from sight), a terrible pain swelled in my heart. It was a keen and bitter reminder of my own loss, and how I used to constantly dream I was searching for my own precious child—never to find her…
This momma goat has always been particularly attached to me. She follows me around like a puppy dog—even nudges me to pet her. I felt, somehow, responsible for her loss and did not know how to fix it. I wanted desperately to ease her pain. Normally, I do not like animals licking me, but on this occasion I happily made an exception. If it meant a small measure of comfort for her, I was more than willing to let her lick me clean.
I decided to try milking her. She seemed to like this as well. After giving her fresh hay and water, I decided to leave her alone for a bit. When I came back to milk her a few hours later, I discovered her still searching the surroundings for her baby. Tears came rushing back, and then sobs. Hugging her tightly and caressing her gently, I whispered to her how sorry I was, and that I knew how she felt.
As I slowly filled the cup with her milk, my mind flooded with thoughts of how much this tender momma had to give to her little one. The milk was so rich and creamy….too good to go to waste. She had so much love and nurturing to offer her baby, but now, it would all be for naught.
As I found an out-of-sight location to dump her milk (it was not yet good for human consumption!), I recalled Josie’s death. Such tender care and meticulous attention had been put into her upbringing, and suddenly it seemed like it had been for nothing—all that hard work…and no reward. My heart ached anew for me, and for my momma goat. It was almost more than I could bear.
I would have done anything to have brought Josie back. Anything. I still would. I wanted so badly to ease Déjà’s pain. But it was useless…
As I sat on the edge of her stall, pondering the difference between a human’s feelings, and a goat’s, I knew there was a vast difference —after all, she was now chewing her alfalfa and sipping big gulps of water (no human momma can do that immediately after their baby dies!). Nonetheless, there was also a great similarity.
Suddenly, a crazy idea came to me. Maybe one of the other newborn goats from three days ago might be the solution… It just so happened that Déjà’s daughter from last summer had two new bucklings—her grandbabies! Without giving it a second thought, I quickly snatched up the little black one with blue eyes. He looked just like her, I mused as I carried him over to her, uncertain how she would react, and reasoning that since goats were slightly different from humans, the other momma would be fine since she still had another baby…
It worked perfectly. He immediately began nursing off her, and she immediately began licking him!!! In no time, he was all wet like a newborn kid. He seemed super happy to be getting some extra attention away from his brother, and Déjà seemed extremely content to have someone to receive all of her motherly gifts!
Us people are not so easily comforted as goats—thus making them therapeutical! Our pain and sense of loss is indescribable and incomprehensible on nearly every level. A human son or daughter can never, ever be replaced!!! I do not believe Déjà was fooled by my trick, but I do believe she was grateful for some measure of comfort… As I left the mother/child couple alone that evening, I could feel Josie smiling down at my handiwork, equally pleased by Déjà’s new baby. Nothing would be wasted.