Monday, August 13, 2012

East of the Mountains

One of the farmer's friends has a family saying. It is a euphemism. It comes in handy to soften bad news. The saying is: East of the Mountains.

Here it is, used in conversation:

"What happened to that old cat Tiger?"

"Tiger went East of the Mountains."

It means Tiger is dead. Everybody in the family understands. It is a way of saying what you don't want to say. It is a way of telling the truth without telling it.

But what are you going to tell if you don't tell the truth? Nothing, that's what. We had an embargo on bad news because there was just too much of it.

That prevented us from telling an important story. And it wasn't right.

We were waiting for what should have been the last kids of the season. But it became apparent as Betsy went into labor that the kids inside were no longer alive. We don't know why. And when Betsy could not deliver them and the farmer couldn't get them out, the only hope was a c-section to save Betsy's life. It didn't work.

Even on this black day there were grace notes - once again, indispensable help and kindness from friends. And the luck to be in the hands of a good old-fashioned farm vet, who called a halt to surgery when it was apparent what the outcome would be. And then did what more vets should have the courage and kindness to do: he put Betsy down immediately when he saw, after the opening incision, that her uterus was ruptured.

At the start of this year our herd had three titans: Hannah Belle, queen of the Nigerians and Baby Belle's oldest daughter; Betsy, the magnificently goofy head of the part-Nubian Betsy Family; Brandy, Queen Mother of the LaMancha herd.

Now we have Brandy, 13 and tough as nails, as irresistibly ornery an old bird as ever walked the barnyard.

We lost Betsy. We lost her kids. If you want to know who Betsy was and how much we will miss her, just go to the search box and search "Betsy."

It's not a story we wanted to tell. But we can't live East of the Mountains. We have to live here.