Tuesday, December 31, 2013
This past year will go down in history as the worst year of my life, and I am truly hoping that as we turn the page to 2014, all of the pain, death, and just plain bad luck will be behind us. Unfortunately I have recently learned that a 1.5 cm nodule on my thyroid has grown to 1.9 cm and is the reason that my throat has felt swollen for the past month and a half. I have a doctor appointment for Jan. 13 to get it further evaluated, and I really hope that it turns out to be a non-event.
It was a year ago today that my husband and I were at the bedside of his mother as she passed away from cancer. And it had only been a couple days earlier when my little bichon frise (pictured above) had passed away. Looking back now, it seems as if those two deaths were simply the "preview" of the year ahead. In March, Coco, one of my most special goats died from a ruptured uterus after a very difficult delivery with quintuplets. And only a week later, my father-in-law passed away.
Then over the summer, my very first goat, Star, died. She was 14 years old, and she was really slowing down towards the end. I still remember telling her, "This is really not a good time for you to leave me. Please stick around a little while longer." She passed away about six weeks later, and then a week later, Sovalye, our livestock guardian dog of nine years passed away.
As the leaves began to fall from the trees, I started to think that all of the death was behind us, but I was wrong. In the middle of November, we had two goats and a llama contract meningeal worm, a nasty parasite that is common in white tail deer but deadly in other ruminants. We ultimately decided to put down Timpani, but Windy the goat and Katy the llama are still with us and still recovering. Because of the neurological damage done to the spinal column and brain, no one will hazard a guess as to whether or not they'll make a full recovery. Although Katy has finally managed to stand once without assistance, we still have to lift her a couple of times every day, and she can usually manage to take a few steps here and there before collapsing again.
There were a couple of bright spots in the year. I taught an online class called Raising Goats Sustainably for the University of Massachusetts, which was fun and challenging. Imagine teaching a livestock care class online, and not everyone in the class even has access to real live goats. Challenging!
We also had three wonderful interns this year who renewed my enthusiasm for sharing my knowledge and teaching! And I am looking forward to expanding the educational component of the farm in 2014 and beyond.
Raising Goats Naturally, was published in September. After writing three books in three years, I am taking a break from writing books. There was a part of me that wanted to keep chugging along and write another one, but considering all of the things that have happened lately, I think it's time to relax and rejuvenate. Quite frankly, I feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me.
I've had chronic back pain for about a decade now. I realized from the beginning that it was always much worse during the winter months and attributed that to a possible lack of vitamin D. I would generally be in quite a bit of pain through the winter months, but once spring arrived and I was outdoors more, the pain would gradually lessen. It didn't happen this past summer. And somehow I didn't realize until fall that I had not spent nearly as much time outdoors as usual. I got my vitamin D level tested, and yep, I am deficient, so am now taking much larger doses of supplements than I have taken in previous years. So, #1 on the list of things to do in 2014 is to spend tons of time in the garden next spring, summer, and fall, not only because of the great food it will produce but also because I need lots of sunshine to stay healthy.
At the moment, I am off on a two-week vacation with my daughters Margaret and Katherine. I am hoping to come back rested and rejuvenated and ready to jump back into all of my projects with renewed energy.
Posted by Deborah Niemann at 7:00 AM