Rest in Peace, Amani Ratliff

1044085_10201476511623031_2039217505_nMy friend Gideon, who used to live on a farm, once told me that farming with animals can be summarized this way, “extreme highs followed by extreme lows.”

In the six years since we started farming, the overwhelming majority of our experiences can fall into the “extreme highs” category. Every so often tragedy strikes and usually out of nowhere.

We lost Goatita’s sister to tetanus two weeks after they were born to mom Amani on April 28th, 2013. In May 2015 Amari (one of Goatita’s sons) was attacked by one of our dogs. I have been mustering up the courage to write that blog but because he survived the attack and is now thriving, I have been putting off writing that blog. But I will.

We’re deeply saddened to report that Amani passed away on January 12, 2016 at 9:32 p.m.

We aren’t entirely sure why.

In September we mated her with Ravi. We didn’t actually see them having sex and so we weren’t ever certain she got pregnant. We figured we’d wait for signs letting us know.

Over the last five months Amani had become increasingly lazy. She preferred to lie down when being fed instead of standing up. She was gaining weight and so we chalked it up to her being pregnant. Amani has never been the most active of our goats and her preferring to lie down over standing during the last five weeks of pregnancy is what she did with the first two and so we thought nothing of it. Although periodically we’d ask each other, “So you think Amani is pregnant?”

Last Friday Paul trimmed Amani’s hooves, which he does to each goat weekly and by Saturday it looked like she was going into labor. We had been here before. We were there when Amani had Goatita and her sister, and all of the behavior seemed very consistent with her first labor.

By nighttime no babies came. She no longer appeared to be in labor.

On Monday Amani’s breathing became labored and our vet suggested we do a vaginal exam to see if her cervix was open. It wasn’t.

On Tuesday Amani had stopped eating. She was still drinking a lot of water and licking our arms. Our vet said that it’s very common for does to stop eating, but drink a lot when they’re going into labor.

She started leaking fluid from her vagina, which was consistent with the fluid does (female goats) leak 12 hours before they deliver.

We all believed she was going to have babies on Wednesday.

By Wednesday Amani early afternoon had stopped drinking water and appeared to be going downhill rapidly. Our vet said he could do a home visit on Thursday morning.

By Wednesday evening I texted him and told him we were worried and no longer believed she was in labor but that she was dying. He (and we) didn’t want to believe this.

But we knew something wasn’t right with our goofy girl.

Her breathing was really labored during our usual nighttime goat feeding (at 6:00 p.m.) and Paul said he was going to sleep with her that night, “so she won't be alone when she dies.”

We both knew it and although we didn’t know exactly why, we both knew in our heart of hearts she was dying.

At 9:00 p.m. we both went back to her pen and lay beside her—him on one side and me on the other. She was alive but no longer with us. We held her closely to us. We cried and said goodbye to her a dozen times at least. We kissed her and smelled her and knew these would be our last moments with her.

Our goofy girl was slipping away.

At 9:32 p.m. for reasons we will never know, our favorite goat died. We can only hazard a guess that she started to go into labor twice and her cervix never opened and the babies died inside. But we will never know for certain.

Amani was the most special of all our goats. We named the farm after her but soon after we did, we learned there was a farm in the U.S. with a very similar name and we didn’t want to be confused with them and so we renamed the farm Mayani Farms, after Amani’s twin sister.

Amani was the sweetest by far of all our goats and along with being goofy was the most expressive. Our hearts are broken. What’s worse is that we’ll never know what happened and why she’s no longer with us.

Mayani is on the left and Amani is on the right. They were six months old here.

Mayani is on the left and Amani is on the right. They were six months old here.

Sarah with Amani June 2014

Sarah with Amani June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amani Ratliff, rest in peace. We will always love you and thank you for changing our lives so dramatically. As agonizing as her death is, Paul and I both agree that we would rather experience the extreme lows of farm life than go back to corporate life.

Amani Ratliff January 15, 2012 to January 12, 2016

Sarah Ratliff says:

Thank you so much, Helen. I am just now seeing this. Thank you for your kind words. xo