Life, Death, and a Goat Having a Seizure

This is not the post I was planning to write. These thoughts have not been processed or made into perfect sense. I like my writing to be witty and wrapped up tight with a clever little bow. This is not that.

Yesterday I stroked little Lola’s face minutes before her death and minutes after last seizure. I told her how sorry I was for her discomfort and how much we all loved her. She looked back at me until I faltered and dropped my gaze. Lola was a goat and also part of The Wolfestead family.

I was going to type “poor Lola” just now, but Lola was not poor. Her meat will be put to good use, her pelt will live longer that I will, and she was deeply loved.

No, it is we who are poor today. Poor because we miss her and because we knew her potential. Lola’s purpose here wasn’t fulfilled. She was going to be bred this month. She was going to give us lots of babies. She was going to live out her life on the farm.

Last Thanksgiving when I butchered my first chicken, it felt different. The chicken had been picked for that specific reason. It had lived a good life and fulfilled its purpose. Its death was planned, not unexpected. We didn’t nurse it for days and invest in its recovery.

A friend recently wrote to us about the possibility of coming to The Wolfestead to heal from a deep loss. Some might wonder why anyone would want to come to a place where things die to get over loss, but that’s exactly the point. This is the perfect place. The farm is where we learn about life and death, loss and healing.

As feral farmer Nate Wolfe wrote yesterday, “I am unsure one can be intimate with life if they don’t also make love with death.”

It’s a quiet day on The Wolfestead today. We are hurting, but we are also healing. Goodbye, sweet Lola.

2Lay me out
and take my skin
bleach my bones for jewelry
take my flesh and use it again
in ways that have purpose
think of me every day
you wear my pelt against your heart
or head
or feet
or legs
depending on your desire
as you work me into leather
that will far outlast even your life
then let me fall
to your sons and daughters
and then to theirs
as an item loved and cherished long
after we are both gone

Nathaniel Wolfe


Related Links:

Winter Life on a Homestead (Photo Essay)

Killing my Thanksgiving Dinner and a Lesson in Gratitude (Explicit Photos)


Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

5 responses

  1. I love this post. I love the poem at the end. My sis-in-law is a vegan and gets very upset when anyone speaks of using meat, pelt, or any part of the animal for our own “human” purposes. I think otherwise. I think the Wolfstead gave Lola a very good life and agree with you that she will continue to serve a purpose by providing you things from her body. I’m so sorry Lola was not able to give you any goat-kids. I think it’s probably what she would have wanted, which makes this even a bit more painful than it already is. Thank you for this.

  2. Thank you, ‘nessa, for writing this entry.
    We all feel the loss of beautiful Lola along with all at the Wolfestead – she was loved by many.
    I love how Nate is choosing to celebrate her life along with mourning her loss, as it should be.
    Please give hugs to all from me… <3

  3. I don’t agree. Making her into a belt is not celebrating her life. Would you make grandma into a pair of moccasins? Animals are not here for our use.

  4. I would indeed make grandma into a pair of moccasins, because my grandmother was a practical woman and would agree that her body should be used as much as possible when she no longer needed it, as opposed to taking up space in an concrete vault on land that can never again be used to grow food to sustain life. Besides, she’s going to be a kilt, not a belt…although part of her might be a belt, to hold up the sporran I’m making from her face skin. Also, the bones are going to be some awesome jewelry. One of a kind limited edition. I could only hope someone would love to make jewelry out of my bones when I no longer need them to hold up my meat.

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