I post a lot of pictures of cute animal babies on this page. Most of the time, I don't post pictures of what goes wrong.
This is the baby horse we've been waiting for over a year. She was stillborn last night. I want you to at least glimpse her (the pictures we sent the vet are more real).
We went to Roanoke Sunday night to help Em move out from school, came back Monday, got home around 7 PM. Had dinner, headed out to check on my very pregnant mare around 10 PM, as we usually do. Em and Dan decided to come with me (happy to be here, happy to be home).
The mare's water had just broken. We were so excited to see the foal we've been anticipating for so long.
Labor was short. The baby never moved. Dan and I gave her a pull to help her out, and Em and Dan did heroic duty to resuscitate. But there was no heartbeat, no corneal reflex, no attempt to breathe. The cord was twisted; the vet said that he thought the filly (a little girl) had died during the day, and that's what had precipitated labor.
She didn't suffer, and Cheyenne (mama) was in no distress. The foal never breathed or moved, so the mare didn't even try to bond. She sniffed the body and then looked around for food. We put her up in her stall, gave her hay and water, wrapped the foal up in a blanket and moved her into another stall until we could arrange to bury her this morning.
"If you have livestock, you'll have dead stock." It's a farm truism. Animals die. Cheyenne's had two uneventful deliveries; this was a freak and tragic occurrence.
Two levels of sadness here. This was a well-bred baby, so there was a fair amount of expense in the breeding, vet care, maintenance; plus Cheyenne usually gestates for a little over 12 months, so you just wait a really long time for a foal. We'll probably rebreed, but it will be another eighteen months or so for our next try.
And I was so looking forward to meeting her. So much. And she was so lovely.
The second level is...the kids were there. OK, they're 20 and 24, so not exactly children. But I still find myself desperate to protect them from sadness. Em had just come back from her freshman year at college and I found myself apologizing over and over: I didn't want your first night back to end this way. And Dan tried so hard to get that baby to breathe. And the story didn't end as we all hoped it would.
I felt guilty that I couldn't protect them from death.
That's all I have right now. I'm sorry we won't get to raise this beautiful little girl. I'm sorry for her mother. I'm sorry for my kids.
Farm stories also end badly. And then we get up the next morning and make sure everyone's fed, watered, and safe. ... See MoreSee Less
5 hours ago
I am so sorry for your loss. She was an animal, but you were all looking forward to having her in your life. She was beautiful.
So sorry. Some things just can’t be helped. It is truly why they call birth a miracle. I’m glad at least the mama is ok.
That is so sad! I’m so sorry for the loss of this beautiful baby!😢😢
My 17-year-old twins were involved in 2 foal births at the farm where they work, one lived one was stillborn. It was sad, but they handled it like troopers
So sorry, how hard. Grieving the loss of my cat. Grief stinks.
I'm so very sorry for this loss...it's clear you and your family give your animals all the love and attention they need. Sometimes nature just sucks. Bless you for feeling pain on your children's behalf. They will continue to learn compassion and life skills by your example. 💕
We had a tragic loss of both mama and baby ewe this year during our first lambing season. Such a hard loss. So sorry for yours! Farming is hard!
In heaven I know God's precious animals run with the angels. My baby girl Gennie-beane loved horses. Gennie died at age 3 with her stuff pony beside her. ❤
I'm glad to see you post this and I'm sorry for the loss. We are looking for a small plot of land to have a small farm. I realized I would have to deal with this and my young children (3, 9, 13) will have exposure to it. I think it's a good thing to not keep death a mystery while also being gentle about dealing with it.
He does large animals in Richmond area. Excellent service.
I'm so so sorry for this loss of a beautiful animal as part of your farm family. After a year of anticipation! When my youngest child was young and would see a dead animal on the side of the road, she always said, "You will be in my forest in heaven." She believed it -- that she'd have a personal forest and that all the animals she saw who died tragically and forgotten, would be loved and cared for there, by her. She's 21 now. Just finished college in psychology. And she still believes in that forest in heaven that's hers, and the animals'. I hope your Em meets this sweet foal someday, and maybe the foal will thank you for that year of TLC that gave her life, if not here, then there.
The loss of animals is so hard but, as a part of life, I think it’s important for children to experience it, especially while they have mom and dad to guide them through it. We recently said good bye to our beloved 12 year old Great Dane. Animals are people too 😉
So sorry for your loss! She looks like she was a sweet girl. Grief is real and part of loving and living.
Beautifully vulnerable and real. I appreciate your words and heart and grief. Mama can’t protect them from all; come Mercy.
There is really nothing like animal husbandry to teach you how precious life is.
This post brings on myriad deep thoughts…She was beautiful, and it seems a senseless death (but does death ever make sense?)…How we humans love other species and grieve their loss….How much less heartache we humans would experience if we only grieved lost babies who’d never shown signs of life…How we can’t always protect our children and how sometimes it’s better not to. I think that’s the most difficult part of mothering: allowing your children to bear their own discomfort and pain. It’s vitally important to their emotional health, but it breaks a mama’s heart to not rescue them, no matter how old they are.
I am so sorry. Animal loss is the worst part of farming. 🙁
I’m so sorry you and your family are dealing with this sadness. I had to tell my married, college-student daughter some terrible family news last night and I kept apologizing for it all the way through. We’re never not their moms; they’re never not our babies.
So sad! I am so sorry. She looks at peace and so very pretty.
So much hope and anticipation, and unexpected loss. The grief is real and death is hard. I’m so sorry for all of your losses wrapped up in the sweet filly.
I am so sorry, I understand so very well your feelings today. Animal husbandry is not for the weak. If you are weak it will work on you so that you are able to continue or it will break you. What a beautiful baby you will now have in your heart forever. So very sorry for your sadness and grief.
I'm so sorry for everyone. It doesn't matter how old our kids are, we just always want to shield them from hard things.
"If you have live stock, you have dead stock." So, so true. My heart broke so many times growing up on a working farm with pigs, horses, sheep, chickens - you name it. So sorry to hear of this loss.
What a beautiful animal. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. My niece starts UPenn vet school in the Fall. I think of her often and how she will process the loss of such beautiful animals. She plans to be a large animal vet.
I’m so sorry. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t dared to pursue my dream of owning horses and sheep. My heart breaks too easily. Thinking of you and you process the grief of this precious life and the dreams you anticipated.
Our baby goats have their own playground. The tree stumps are natural and harvested from the farm. The slide is...not. They inherited it from my kids. But they do love both. ... See MoreSee Less
3 days ago
Sweet pic! Looks like there having fun!
They are awesome to watch
Jessica Ann Markfort thought of your newest lil friends 🥰
GREAT EXEERCIE FOR THESE ADORABLE ANIMALS!!
I believe they are the most playful baby animal.
So. Much. Fun!
Do they ever go down the slide?
So adorable ❤️
Nice set up
So adorable 😍
I'm calling it, folks. Twelve lambs, and we're done. What a lovely lambing spring we had. All healthy and vigorous, and (for the first time, I think) an even split: six ram lambs and six ewe lambs.
Now for the next step. When they're between two and three months old, we'll "dry lot" them--put them in a paddock where they have free choice grain and hay but no grass. This keeps them from getting a fatal parasite load before their immune systems develop enough to fight it off (that's closer to September). They'll grow that beautiful wool all winter, and in the spring we'll shear them and have twelve gorgeous lambswool fleeces for sale! ... See MoreSee Less
4 days ago
are you accepting unpaid interns to travel and come hug them all day? bc i volunteer!
"On the first day of lambing my 🐐 goat gave birth to 3....." I keep humming this bit can't expand, to tired. But still happily humming 12 days of Christmas with goats and lambs
They should be Easy To Name & Remember these Disciples!
I am a fan of yours from my childhood reading your Story of the World volumes which I loved! I'm an educator now and have used your curriculum sets in school clubs! I also LOVE small farms! I would love to purchase one of YOUR lambswool fleeces in advance but have no idea of the cost! Can you pm me?
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Writer (currently working on how we think about what makes us sick, for St. Martins). Farmer (goats, pigs, horses, sheep). Mother/wife/sister/daughter/person.
Just delivered my mare's much-anticipated foal, stillborn.
To all the parents looking at a long Monday, I give you: the thing that’s kept my 2yo happy for an hour for $0.
Today I welcomed and poured wine for our first farm food event since the pandemic. It was outdoors so our guests could safely take off their masks. We could see each other's faces. Like a drink of cold water in a dry, dry place.
"It’s the young single moms and the wives of minimum-wage workers who must stay home if their children are to be cared for. And if they stay home, they cannot dig their way out of poverty. The system is broken."
Hard questions asked by my wonderful cousin Ella Wall Prichard.
Can we vaccinated folks all just agree, right now, not to be a pain in retail, food, and service industry workers' lives if businesses still require masks, or have trouble working out vaccination verification logistics? Please?