Coffee died last night. While he was ill the last 5 days, I had separated him from the girls,because he was small anyway and illness made him weak. He felt afraid of ewes twice his size and strength. During the day I put him in with the ewes for a while so he wouldn't get lonely.
Last night, he wanted to go back to his spearate 'room'. I let him in, he went in on his delicate little hooves and settled in for the night. This morning I found him dead, with his
beautiful dark brown eyes open, as if he was looking into the distance. Maybe he was. Maybe angels came to lead him to his rest. My shy, sweet, gentle little brown boy.
This all began last Thursday. Going into the barn in the morning, I saw right away that he was "off". A little later I noticed he had diarrhea. So I immediately thought back to the extra grain I fed him a few days before, because he had lost weight: His mind was on the girls during the breeding season, not food, and he was a busy little guy.
At first we thought it was too much acid in his rumen (the first of four stomachs that a sheep has). So I treated him with baking soda, oil and water - standard treatment - and cleaned his little butt. The next day, I called the vet that I really
wanted to connect up with, because he is the most respected vet for sheep here. He was out of town until Monday. So I called two other vets. Not much follow-thorugh, and nobody seemed eager to come up here.
So I kept treating little Coffee, cleaning up under his tail, offering him treats like dandelion greens and sprouts, and looking for any small sign that we were turning a corner. And for a day it looked as if he was. Then... no. He was back to trembling, standing with his head down, and straining. By the time the doctor came back into town and saw Coffee, it was too late. He died of kidney failure.
The vet thinks it was due to a urinary obstruction that young rams sometimes get. There is nothing you can do, unless the obstruction is down near the tip of his pizzle. So he died in the night, quietly, without ever complaining, without holding it against me that I was forever pushing evil-tasting things into his mouth. He even planted a kiss on my nose yesterday.
He died as sweetly as he lived his 8 months and 6 days. I think he bred the girls, and his offspring will be running around in the pasture next spring. But not Coffee.
It feels incomplete here without him. The barn feels incomplete without him waiting for me by the gate, without
greeting him with "Hi Coffee! Hi Cafecito!"
I took his little body deep into the woods around 10:30 this morning and found a big rock, behind which was a spot like a cradle. It was sunken a little and leaves had gathered in it. I placed him in there, just as I found him lying in his "room' this morning. Then I prayed to God to take this little soul in His,
in Her arms and whisper "Hi there little Coffee. You are safe now." Safe now, as his body retuns to the earth from whom it was fashioned, and feeds others in the forest that need the nourishment.
I alternate between feeling peace, laughing as I remember his antics, and giving in to great, long howls that seem to rise up from my core. Goodbye, little Coffee. How I miss you!