Old Faces

By Terry Golson


Loving and caring for an animal that you know ages at a far faster rate than you is both joy and heartache. You go into it with eyes wide open, knowing that a human’s lifespan is longer than that of your animal companion and that you’ll watch as your friend ages. You try to stave off the inevitable as best you can. (Parrot and tortoise owners can tell me about the opposite concerns!)

These charming, adorable, chaotic, buoyant goats arrived in my life when they were two months old. That was eleven years ago.

 

They spent ten years in my backyard. This photo captures Caper and Pip’s personalities to a tee.

 

Last year, when I moved to Maine, they moved too. They’re now just up the road at a friend’s place. She named her property Noisy Farm, and she needed some noise. Goats to be exact. Pip and Caper would be her starter goats, and I would be able to solve a problem I’d been mulling over for quite some time. My goats needed goat companions. I knew that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, one goat would pass. A solo goat is a very sad thing and I didn’t want that for them. My friend was planning on getting a few young goats. At Noisy Farm, Pip and Caper could integrate into a herd and have goat friends in place before one brother lost the other.

 

Our goat veterinarian (yes, there is such a thing here in southern Maine. She specializes in goats!) says that any day past the age of eight for a goat is a gift. We’ve had three years. Pip is not showing his advanced age, but Caper is. We’re keeping a close eye on his ability to keep on weight and get around on his gimpy leg. This winter might be too hard on him. We’ll see. But in the meanwhile, his new goat family treat Caper with respect. No one head butts him or bothers him when he’s eating. Which is unusual for goats! Caper has always had an aura of leadership.

Both Goat Boys are very, very old but also very, very happy.

 

Which makes me happy and is the trade-off for not having them in my backyard.

 

Barring a catastrophe, a horse can live into their late twenties, some into their thirties. Tonka is fourteen. At his prime. But lately I’ve been noticing white hairs on his previously jet black face.

 

I suppose I can’t expect my horse to age without any outward signs. After all, I’ve gone almost entirely grey-haired in the last couple of years. Hopefully we’ll mature at about the same rate. There’s a chance that I’ll still be in the saddle on this horse when I’m in my late 70s and he’s nearing thirty. That’s the optimistic long view. As we get there, I keep in mind that every day is a gift.

Who’s the gift in your life? Dog? Guinea Pig? Love Bird? Pony? Tell me in the comments!


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18 thoughts on “Old Faces

  • Miriam Hedderson

    Lola, my 9 1/2 year old Buff Orpington hen. She lives on, without the other 3 hens in my original flock, and does it well. She gets lots of social attention from us and remains strong and happy. We never would have expected this and enjoy every day.
    So good to see Pip and Caper.

  • Robin

    My current love is an 11-year-old black calico (more black than calico) cat named Dora. 🙂 Her mom was a pregnant stray taken in by friends. She’s a real sweetheart and acts like she’s 4, not 11. I’ve lived with cats for 50 years and made some changes with Dora that have paid off. For one thing, letting her tell me what foods are right for her, not the so-called “experts” — cats are obligate carnivores and that’s exactly how Dora prefers to eat. Her instincts are on point, not Wellness’, not Science Diet’s, etc. We give her a blend of real meat (plain and unseasoned) and commercial food.

    Nice to see the goat boys. 🙂

  • Lynda

    I just rehomed my sheep for the same reasons you rehomed the goats. Old mom ewe and young wether… but I miss them terribly… as did my mare! I had no idea she was so attached, even though I have another horse here, too…
    My horse is 13 and I’m 72…. I hope we at least last long enough together to see each other out.. or he goes before me…

    • Terry Golson Post author

      How interesting that the horse misses the sheep. I wonder if the sheep, in their new home, miss her too? Still, I’m sure the sheep are now in a better situation as they age. These are difficult decisions, but important ones to make.

  • Jan

    Wonderful to see Pip and Caper again. We had our lovely cat missy put down a year ago she was 15 and starting to suffer. Wish we could do the same. We have now got a 7 year old home from home rescue cat called Leo who rules the house. I have 4 of my Ladies still surviving they are 8 1/2 years old loving life wandering around the whole garden, they even put Leo in his place when he went to say hello. They all still lay a few eggs in the spring and the Buff Sussex still lays for 9 months of the year.

  • chickencarol

    It’s lovely to see the goat boys again. I can’t believe it’s been eleven years as I remember you getting them and it makes me realise how long I have been following you. My eldest hen, Speckles, is eight and a half years old and still going strong although laying only a few eggs a year which is fine. I have added young girls so it keeps the flock going and I wouldn’t want to be without them.

  • Rebecca Stedman

    Today I turned 68….Thank You for this great post. It was perfect. I love the boys and am so happy to see them. I remember how surprised I was when I won the Halloween prize. My Home Screen picture still sports the boys in their Halloween costumes. I am so grateful to have found your site and have so enjoyed peeping in. No matter if was the hens, Lily, precious Scooter, or the bunny, and now Tonka. You bring joy to so many. Thanks for all you do

  • Melissa Bishop

    The first and best of all my horses lived to be 40. I bought her with my babysitting money when I was a kid. Tall and powerfully made, she was half TB and half Quarterhorse. We would ride all the wild hills and forests, sometimes 30 miles to the sea and then back again, sometimes over the mountains at night in storms. . She meant freedom to a teenage girl and I was freedom for her. I must have ridden her many thousands of miles across country.

    When she was in her early 30s she started dropping weight. It was because horse teeth when they live to be old, there is not much tooth left to float. So I put her on a complete pelleted diet, Purina Horse Chow 200. It was ABC food -Already Been Chewed. Her hollows filled out, her top line rose up and she became as shiny as a Hershy bar. She was still ridable at age 40. Although her canter was missing on one cylinder she still had that fast road walk. I came home from work one night and found her dead on the ground. I could see by her tracks in the sandy loam that she had gone into the barn, gotten a drink, come out and fell over with no stuggle, she had just dropped dead. She was lot alone, nother horse was with her. I sat on a bucket by her head. I saw all our lives before my eyes. I did not cry. Whould I have had her live longer? No. The next day her body was dragged away into the woods and I covered her with flowers. I built a little fence around her because I did not want varmints to drag her bones all over. Because I wanted them to be buried with. Nearly 20 years later I have her white horse bones in a box. I have known many other good horses in my life. Buch such a one comes only once in life and does not come again.

  • Melissa Bishop

    I mentioned the first and best of all my horses who lived 40 years. Tamar was a a blood bay. As soon as my mother would let me I dyed my hair auburn to match her. Later I dyed my hair to match all my other horses. Except Anna Denmark, a palomino Saddlebred, because bleach is very hard on womens hair. Or the black Arabian stallion I did not match because black is too harsh for my complexion. The black bay Saddlebred I have now I don’t have to dye my hair because he matches my natural color. But now, my own hair is getting grey so I dye it my natural color. If I stopped dying it I would have a white streak on my scalp and would look like a skunk.

    But when Tamar, my beloved blood bay started to get ‘mossy headed’ (when they get white hairs around their eyes and face) I touched her up with Lady Clairol and a cotton ball. Terry, may I suggest that you use black Lady Clairol to touch up your horse.