I always look forward to summers with excitement and enthusiasm. Every May since I have been in school I can recall being eager for classes to end and my vacation to start. I do not think it was because I disliked school, but after nine months of getting up early everyday I really wanted to have freedom to do what I wanted with my time. I remember summers being the best part of the year because they were the three months that I could completely enjoy with my family and not have to worry about setting time apart to do my school work. When I was just a kid I spent all of my time playing and running around with my cousin. Later when I became a teenager I spent my summers doing the least possible and helping my dad when I was forced to. It was during these three month periods that I learned to do outside work. I learned a lot about gardening from my dad and our pets. We have always owned dogs, but it was not until four years ago that I first owned farm animals.
We had many chickens to begin with, but soon enough my dad wanted to expand and own goats as well. We began with a few goats and two of them were very young and because of that they had to be bottle fed. Initially my dad took care of that job, but soon enough we noticed that one of them began to get sick and he eventually died. The white goat survived and we soon learned what we were doing wrong and why the brown goat did not survive. As my dad continued to add more goats to the herd we raised the small white goat and bottle fed him until a very mature age. It was common for my dad and I to laugh about it and find humor in the fact that we had to bottle feed him and he knew when we were coming to do it. It was my mom’s idea to name him Taco. I have no idea why she decided on that name and I plainly told her it was not a name and it was stupid to name one of our pets that.
By the time we were officially into the summer season we probably had a total of 15 goats. They were of various breeds, but were all basically about the same age. Among them we only had three adult males, including Taco. One of our younger female goats was a few months old and her mother was not living with us. She was new and because of that was not close to the other goats. She did know how to eat on her own already so my dad and I let her roam around on her own. It was on one of those summer days when I happened be home alone. My brother and his family were not home and most importantly my dad was not home. I learned from my dad how to care for our goats and I knew when and how to feed them.
That day I went out side to check on them because it was such a hot day and to feed them. I had the habit of looking at each goat just to make sure they were all okay and because a few of them were pregnant. I noticed that the young female goat was just laying there by herself and she looked as if she was in pain. I went in the corral and when I was close enough I heard her complaints. I can recall immediately feeling ver scared because I did not know what to do in a situation like that. I noticed right away that she was not breathing properly either and gasped with a lot of effort. I was freaking out and had no idea what to do. I began telling her, "Please don’t die on me, please." I repeated that so many times as if it would cause her to get better and I guess in hope that I was only imagining things. What I did was take her out of the corral and run into my yard so I could try and so something although I had no idea what. This all occurred within one or two minutes, but I can clearly remember setting her down on the grass and watching as she breathed for the last time and died.
I felt horrible because I could think of nothing to help her. I just sat there for a while with her just thinking of what could have happened to her and if there was anything I could have done to save her. As I sat with her on the grass I was replaying the past few minutes in my mind. First I panicked, thought about it for some seconds, decided to take her out, ran with her into my yard and set her down to die. I did feel that in a sense it was my fault because I did not know what to do. After I calmed down I decided to call my dad and let him know that she had died. He said he would be home right after he was through eating with my sister and her husband. He did ask me if I knew what happened to our goat and if I had any idea of what might have caused her sudden death.
The first ones to arrive were my brother and his wife. I was still there sitting with my goat on our yard. They did not even notice that the goat was dead. She was not moving and had an odd look on her face. What did they think that she taking a nap on our yard with me sitting next to her?? My dad finally got home and he went over, picked her up and tried to find any indications of what caused her to die. He suggested that perhaps something like a spider bit her or she ate a harmful insect. He picked her up and we walked to the back gate when her body made an odd sound. He said, "See she was bloated. It must have been something that she ate and she couldn’t through it up. You should’ve forced her to through up. Why didn’t you think of that?" Of course I told him that I had no idea what was wrong with her and how could I have guessed what the right thing to do was. We went to the back of our house at the area behind the corrals and buried her.
In the days that passed everything continued to work as it had before. I do not remember how many days passed until my dad found our youngest goat torn to pieces. He was a newborn and probably not more than a week old. I remember him clearly because my dad and I said that he would be just like his dad and maybe even more. My dad could not figure out what had occurred to this kid, but could only assume that it must have been a coyote which took this kid out of the corrals in the middle of the night. He was the only one born to his mother and it made me very sad to think of what she might be feeling. I know that as animals their brains do not think as we do, but I very clearly remember her expressions as she searched for her son around the corral. My dad was burying what was left of him and he said, "She’s looking for her son. Perhaps we can get her to take one of the other young goats."
The next incident to occur was another young goat found dead. Well initially we could not find her. We were out that day and when my dad went to check on our goats there was one of three sisters missing. It was already dark outside and he immediately thought that yet again somehow the coyotes came in and took her out. We searched for her all around the corral and among the nearest vineyards. My dad could not figure out how a coyote could come in and take a goat out. There was no easy way for animal to get through and drag her out. That was when my dad found her inside the area of our corrals. He dragged her body out and he told me not to look because her body was torn open. He immediately figured out that the ones who caused these deaths were our own dogs.
Our German shepherds lived in a caged area just next to the corral area, but they had not attempted to kill our goats before. By this time they had lived next to the goats for quite sometime and we were sure they were used to each other. My dad said once that Loba, the female dog, watched over our goats. She did sit there at times and just watched them as if she were a true shepherd dog doing her job. After we knew who the killers were my dad was mad, but only decided to make the fencing around the areas safer and difficult to get through.
Then it was one night, as I attempted to find my comfortable sleep again, that I heard my Scottish terriers barking endlessly. I remember thinking, "Oh great. I’m just beginning to actually rest and now they wake me up." I ignored it at first because I thought they were simply barking along with our German shepherds at other distant dogs. They continued for quite a while and I would say it was probably about half an hour later that I looked out the window again and I saw Julia, our pony, in our yard, cornered by our two German shepherds. They were chasing her around the house and barking at her which caused our others dogs to wake me up. Thankfully I heard them before our shepherds killed my pony. I immediately got out of bed, noticed it was four in the morning, ran out side and pulled the shepherds out of the yard and back into their corral. I tried to cover up the hole they dug to get to the yard as quickly as I could. Then I ran over to Julia and saw that she was covered in her own blood.
Once again I felt panicked and for about a minute only stare at her. I did not wake my dad up right away because I was unsure of how he would react to this. I told myself that I could handle it because they were probably just a few bites and scratches. I began to clean her and wash her through with the hose and as I did this I noticed all the blood streaming down her body. After that I saw that her wounds were deeper and she was in a lot of pain. She was shaking , but at the same time remained still. I expected her to lie down because her legs were what had been torn the most. I could not believe how much damage the dogs had done to her. I was astonished. I continually told her that I was sorry. I remember that very clearly saying how sorry I wasn over and over as if she understood me. I could see the pain in her face or perhaps it was just me imagining what she felt as she stood there shaking and terrified after being chewed on by a couple of dogs.
I went inside to wake my dad and told him what had happened. He came out side with me and all he could think of doing at almost five in the morning was to try and cover up her wounds. They were really bad but we managed to cover them up and stop her bleeding. I continued to hope she would lie down, but she would not. Perhaps it she would not because she was so afraid to move or simply because it was too painful for her to move. It was closer to six when we finally went inside and my dad walked into his room although I doubt it was easy for him to fall asleep. I could not sleep either. I went into my room, closed the door, wrapped myself in my blankets and just laid there. I did not know what to think or how to feel. I wondered why things were going so terrible lately. Was it something we were doing wrong and was it our fault. I really did feel like it was my fault. I continued thinking that maybe things would have been better if I woke up sooner or heard my Scotties sooner. I did not sleep.
The final incident to drive my dad to the edge was yet another morning. Throughout this summer there was not a day I can recall where I awoke in a positive mood. There was always something eerie about them as if I had spent the entire night awake when I was actually asleep. Well this particular morning I awoke to the sound of my dad’s voice. It sounded very odd and nothing I had heard before. I am almost positive that he was crying and I was sure that something terrible occurred. I did not know what to think. I stayed in my room just long enough to hear him say that he was going to kill those dogs. I got up and went outside with him. We were at the corral and he said that they had finally killed all of our goats. They were not all dead. This time they killed two goats and bit three others. My dad was devastated. It was a side of him that I had never seen and did not know how to react to.
We went in and I helped him carry out the two that were dead. We buried them and continued to clean the ones that were bitten. There wounds were not severe and we were sure they would be just fine. After that he said that if we did not get those dogs out of his sight he was going to kill them himself. I did not want him to do anything that would alter his anger even more and we finally decided to give them away. That same morning we put them in our van and drove them over to a friends house. He had mentioned to my dad before that he wanted German shepherds and accepted to take our dogs. As we drove them over I just watched their faces and tried to make sense of what was happening. It was difficult for me to think of what they had done and what they were before. I could not imagine them being evil or vicious in anyway because I never saw them do what they did.
We arrived and my dad opened the door to let them out. My dad was telling his friend what we did to care for them and overall what they were like. It was finally time to leave and I remember that the man tied them next to a fence next to his house. We got in our van and as we slowly drove away I remember looking back at them and had this nostalgic feeling. There was a part of me that did not want to leave them there because even after what they had done they were my pets just as our goats were. I felt as if I had something caught in my throat. I could not speak and did not want to. We got home and I honestly did not want to talk about anything with anyone. I guess I did avoid talking to anyone about everything that had happened and if I was asked about it I simply told them to ask my dad if they wanted to know anything.
I felt awful and I did not know what to do with myself. After everything I think I did talk about it a few times, but only some details of the incidents. I did not like to go into detail about it or how every single thing made me feel. I did not say what I saw as opposed to what my dad did. I know that I saw things differently than he and he never really discussed it with me either. I know that my dad did tell other people of what happened, but just the short version. He did not mention any details and did not like to discuss it further. I understand why he didn’t.