February 11, 2012: Exactly one month ago today , a goat died. The call came that Wicca had passed in a freak accident. I wrote the obituary below for him. Then, in a later call, it was clarified that they’d been wrong. My two goats look nearly identical, but it was the darker, Niabi who had died. We grieved for two beloved pets in one day.
I didn’t have the will to write a second obituary.
This morning, the call came that the other goat passed from an infection. One month to the date. We are in shock. We are goatless and the world is now less two perfect, gentle souls. I now post Wicca’s obituary, which was acidentally made public briefly, but I had intended to keep private. Now I’m quite at a loss.—WT
My step-sister had to make one of those calls this morning. Worse news can’t be imagined. One of our two goats we’d left in her care died yesterday.
A sweet, loving soul is gone from our lives.
This is the latest in a string of dramatic losses C.T. and I have incurred as we commit ourselves to touring Occupys and teaching consensus.
First, while we were on the West Coast, our community consensed to abandon the house we live in due to zoning regulations, rather than go through a lengthy and possibly expensive process to fight for the right to continue occupying ours and several other homes, which have been part of the community since 1965.
Having no home to go to, we made the heart-wrenching decision to send our goats several states away to be fostered on a farm for the next year, while we tour and seek a new community.
Less than a month into that separation, Wicca is dead. It was a freak accident, that many will say could have happened anywhere.
We feel so badly for his companion goat, Niabi, and for Beth and Sandy, the step-family who stepped up to house them when other friends and family did not.
Today I remember Wicca and our special relationship. C.T. and I walked the woods today, tracing the early morning path Wicca and Niabi used to take to do their browsing. We looked at the house we’re about to lose from their perspective and remembered how they used to come running on their little stubby legs whenever we humans would emerge from the cabin.
We remembered Niabi and Wicca rearing up on hind legs to butt heads, a “high five” in goat culture. Niabi has no goat companions now to join him in high fives.
I recalled the day I brought Wicca home. I had a solitary goat, Willow. And finally I’d gotten him a companion. They don’t do well alone. I took the kid first to show other Heathcoters. He was eight weeks old, my first baby goat in a dozen years.
I opened my arms and let him down on the ground, not appreciating that he’d just been stolen from his mother and had no bonding with me. He darted off and a bunch of us chased him all around the woods. He jumped into the stream, a jarring experience, I’m sure, because goats hate water. That’s where we were eventually able to catch him.
After drying him well, because goats are prone to pneumonia, I walked him up the hill. Willow at the top heard us and called out. Wicca answered and they did call and response about twenty times before they were within sight of each other.
Willow was a loving, nurturing mentor to the baby goat. But when Willow died that winter, Wicca was less than a year old.
Wicca was lost without a companion and began to show symptoms of failure to thrive. I brought him into the house to be with me and the dog. And I set about finding a companion.
Each night, when Tuatha the dog and I would go upstairs to bed, Wicca would cry out in his crate. Tuatha would turn around and go to him. He laid next to the baby goat every night until we brought home baby Niabi.
I had appreciated that my goats had tended to pass down culture from the older to the younger. The older would teach the new arrival what in the woods was food and what was not. Tabitha had taught Atthis and Willow; Willow had started to teach Wicca. And there was a clear leader/follower hierarchy. I nicknamed Willow and Wicca Skipper and Gilligan.
Niabi was growing smaller than expected so he wouldn’t be used as a breeding buck. The breeders had nicknamed him “the dark one” after his very desirable coloring, and he was dripping in the privilege of one who expected to be king, even then.
Wicca, being older, did get in a few months of butting and hazing and dominating, mixed in with bonding and being inseparable. But somehow, even though he always remained smaller, Niabi became king.
Until recently, they lived a life of rare freedom for goats. They were completely free range in the expansive woods of Heathcote, browsing a several acre radius around our cabin. They had a cute little cob goat house, but preferred to sleep under our house, to be closer to us. Their favorite game was the ongoing contest to sneak onto the porch. They studied our movements for any opportunity to find us gate open, attention elsewhere, so they could tramp onto the porch landing and score points. More points if they could find the house door open and get a few bites of Tuatha’s vegan dog food! Niabi, always ambitious, outscored Wicca by a huge margin.
But Wicca would rather be polite than win. He was content to shrug off the hierarchy of goats and just be Mama’s teddy bear. While Niabi likes to pretend he hates attention and petting, except from his special pal C.T., Wicca was a hugga muffin, always ready to snuggle or have me drum on his belly.
In their free range world, we almost never fed them, as they got what they needed from the woods. They were bonded closely to us by choice. I’m sad that Wicca’s life has ended while we were parted. And I thank this gentle being for being part of my life.
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