Gentleman Farmer Part Five – Farewell to Fred

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Gentleman Farmer Part Five – Farewell to Fred

Mar 3, 2023

My boy Fred,

I first laid eyes on you Sunday July 8th, 2018.  I had just finished a weekend workshop at the Well of Mercy in Harmony North Carolina. I came back a few hours early to participate in an opening ceremony for Blooms tea house in Draper, Virginia.

At 9am I pulled up in the driveway and  walked to the backyard fence to say hello to your mom Angie and your aunt Irene. I glanced in Angie’s direction and there you stood, a couple feet from your mom. You had just been born. I stood motionless outside the fence staring at you. I opened the gate, walked up to you, and didn’t know what to do. Your umbilical cord had already broken it was hanging about 4 inches from your bellybutton. Should I pick you up, I thought? I just stood there looking at you. I was excited and kind of scared. I immediately called Sarah at S&J farm (a half block up the street) where your mom and aunt were born.

I cried out  into my iPhone, “Oh my God, Sarah, Angie just had her baby! Please come help me!” She calmly responded, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right there.” Seemed like forever but Sarah arrived in a few minutes carrying her black doctor’s bag. Could have been  a scene right out of James Harriet’s “All Creatures Great and Small.”

Sarah moved quickly into action. I was so relieved Fred, but still nervous. Sarah plopped down on the ground in front of you and laid a large towel over her lap. She gently placed you on the towel. She pulled out a small cloth and wiped your face. She wiped off your bellybutton area and tied off your umbilical cord, cutting the excess off with surgical scissors. She then slowly wiped down your back. By this point you’d had enough and started bleating. Your shrill scream startled your mom, and she hurried over to your aide. Sarah gently set you on your feet and you ran to your mom. Once you were standing under her you got silent. For the first time I was at peace. I marveled at how perfect you were – not a blemish on your body. You were a spitting image of your mom and your dad, Mr. Tumnus. I said to your mom, “Angie you have a beautiful son – his name is Fred.” You are named after my father William Frederick. Sarah and I sat there for a few moments marveling at what had just happened. I thanked Sarah while she gathered up her birthing tools. She stepped through the gate, turned back looked at me, and said,  “Don’t  worry, Angie will take over from here.”

The anticipation of your birth was now over.I could not take my eyes off you. Your mom kept moving around positioning her utters directly above your head. In about 15 to 20 minutes, you grabbed hold of her right teat and began nursing. I found out later Fred that the first 24 hours of nursing were very crucial for your health. This is because your mom is producing colostrum which is rich in fat and gives you the ability to fight against disease and infection. It also helps you to maintain your body temperature and water balance. Your suckling is what begins your  lasting bond.

One day I noticed you rather aggressively bunting your mom’s udder before nursing. I asked a farmer friend about your behavior. She assured me this behavior is purely instinctual and all you were doing was stimulating milk let-down. It was so sweet when I caught you nursing.

Fred, You would crack me up laughing when you ran through the yard hopping like a kangaroo and  when you jumped off the pile of wooden pallets performing a half twist in mid-air. You were constantly play-butting heads with your mom and aunt Irene. You loved to stand on the 3 inch stairway railing. You were like a gymnast on his balance beam, even sticking your dismount.

You had a voracious appetite and was the first one to try anything new. You went crazy over pumpkin and watermelon. When I walked through the gate with an arm full of fresh collard greens you never gave me a chance to put them down. You would jump up on me and grab a mouthful. How on earth, Fred, did you devour the thorny trimmings from the early spring pruning of the knockout roses without

getting pricked? By far I was most intrigued with your unquenchable appetite for Fraser fir evergreen trees. You would strip every single needle off the tree. It was fun cruising the neighborhoods for Fraser firs the week after Christmas.

You and your mom were inseparable. You always remained a few steps from her. Every night you snuggled up together, often using mom as a pillow. You were so friendly and affectionate; you always approached me to be petted. You loved being scratched behind each ear and the sides of your jaws. You would look into my eyes with the most sweet soulful gaze and I would say to you every time, “ You like that boy?” Then you would wag your tail. I will miss you running up to me when I stepped into the yard and greeting me at the fence when I pulled up in the driveway. Your bleating was so cute.

I’m so sorry you got sick Fred. When you quit eating and drinking, I knew something was terribly wrong. Ends up You had a urinary blockage that made it impossible for you to pee. I couldn’t stand to see you suffering. I anguished over the decision to put you out of your pain. I finally realized it was selfish to prolong the inevitable. On your last night did you notice your mom was literally standing vigil over you? Seeing her loving devotion for her grown baby boy was heart wrenching.

Well Fred, these last four years you brought me such joy, you were really fun to hang out with. I’m proud to have raised you (with your moms help) from a small kid to a full-grown goat. I will never forget how happy I was when you survived your first winter.

As I’m writing you, Fred, the sweet ending of “the Wizard of Oz” comes to mind; when Dorothy says, “it’s going to be so hard to say goodbye.” She hands the tin man his oil can and kisses him on the cheek. He tearfully replies, “Now I know I have a heart because it’s breaking.”

Farewell Fred, your human grandparents can’t wait to hug you on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Written by:

Brian Gardner, Healing Arts Director

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