Our week from Hell
There's not too many times in one's normal life that you bury three animals in one week. Furever Farm and animal rescue is anything but normal though.
We have had the week from Hell having to lay three of our rescue animals to rest. Firstly there was Malcolm, our elder statesman, followed by Apple, our youngest lamb and finally Penny, our barn cat with character. All deaths are terrible. It doesn't matter if it's old age or illness there is no animal lover who can say that laying your loved one to rest is easy.
Malcolm was the farm's oldest sheep. Somewhere between the age of 6 and 8 he was such a gentleman and oozed calm and class. Once Malcolm fit in with the sheep he joined he was right at home, happy to eat, sleep and socialise amongst his new family. Being an older boy he wasn't always up for fun and games but did join in nightly chasey sessions when he desired. Happy to sit and bask under his two favourite paddock trees he would watch over the flock with grace. Malcolm unfortunately would find himself the victim of the most insidious disease, cancer. Not only would he find himself victim, but of one of the most aggressive strains of this cancer that can be had.
News like this is devastating especially when given the information from your vet that it is inoperable and has travelled to other parts of the body. We were told that Malcolm's deterioration would be swift and quick but nothing prepares you for just how quick that is. Within only a couple of months we found ourselves having to make that painful decision. There is no way we would let an animal suffer so when you know the time is right you must simply act. We made the decision to lay Malcolm to rest via euthanasia when his body told us he was tired and lowly. Malcolm, like all others, is buried in Furever Farm and will be remembered forever.
Apple was the youngest of a group of 7 lambs to enter the farm during the latest lambing season. This little boy stole hearts and showed all what a fighting spirit is all about. From the beginning this gorgeous boy battled one illness after another until his little body simply could not take any more. He arrived with the hideous disease scabby mouth which sees a lambs mouth and surrounds covered in cold sore like scabs. There is no real treatment for this, it simply must play its course over about 2 to 4 weeks. Apple fought off this in 2 weeks. No sooner had he cleared up and he was on medication for pneumonia followed by a chest infection and back to pneumonia! This would normally be more than enough to see a lamb perish but this little boy simply fought on. Finally though he came down with a stomach bug, and not just any stomach bug but a strain that is exceptionally extreme.
Apple was admitted to our local vets in hope of him beating his latest hurdle after a fast deterioration. We received a call at about 10pm to say that Apple had taken his last breath. His tiny 4 week old body, ravaged by illness after illness, simply had no more fight left so Apple did what was best for him and closed his eyes. Apple is buried with his other lamb family where respects can be paid forever more.
Penny was the farm barn cat. Arriving here simply because no-one wanted her she was a misunderstood cat who wanted to live the sort of life she wished. All Penny wanted was a shed to call her own and paddocks to roam with her friends. Furever Farm gave her that and before long this hissy, scratchy, snarling cat became the loving, gentle content girl we always knew she was.
We discovered Penny's body upon returning home one early evening to complete devastation. It is suspected she fell victim to a snake bite or ingested a poisoned rodent from another property. Devastated, we laid Penny to rest in the rose garden and will forever grow colourful flowers in her memory.
Three animals in a week.
It's too much to contemplate and too much to ask people to bare. We simply must bare things like this despite how sad, crushed and deflated we feel. We have nearly 80 other animals, all gorgeous in their own respect, that need us to follow up with the daily tasks tomorrow. We have a responsibility to them and their welfare. That isn't to say that we don't feel deaths on the farm. We feel it so so much and take every passing to heart.
We grieve. We grieve for days and sometimes weeks. In the end we never forget we just return to some normality because we have to. These three deaths will haunt us for a while.
Three in one week is unthinkable and unimaginable. It hurts like Hell but so does the thought of not caring for other animals. Some people have asked us "how we do it". To be honest we can't answer that, sometimes we wonder it ourselves. We don't think there is a definitive answer, we just continue to do it because we do and it's our duty and promise to those who have no voice and rely on us so much. We are generally so busy during the day that it occupies your mind aside from fleeting thought here and there. From outdoors work we then attend to admin most night that requires concentration - another form of blocking out specific thoughts. But, like every other person who loses an animal, at night we think, remember, grieve and cry. When you cry at night sometimes you cry yourself to sleep such is the heartache you feel and hopelessness you experience. It's what animal people do - we hurt when we can't stop or fix illness, disease or death.
Our animals that have passed will forever carry a place in our hearts. Each time when we think we can't go on or we will never get over the latest death we do, it just takes time.
Rescue is a very rewarding job. It teaches you, improves you, matures you, challenges you and gives you purpose all the while enabling you to help as many of our animal fiends as you can. But it is also hard. It's physically demanding, at times dirty, frustrating, emotional and can be sad, bloody sad. If you are not lambasting yourself for not being able to care for enough you are battling grief in bad situations.
To look at the two flipsides though there is one thing for certain. Barring any unfortunate issues with yourself you would never stop doing it. It's too important and too necessary. These animals need our help and, all negatives aside, anyone who cares for animals would do what we do. Yes....it's hard...but the positives are worth it.
Darren, Hayley & all the Furever Farm team.