Ode to Skip

Posted on March 18, 2011 in Animals

Mid-March, 2011 we had Emmet's Ox, Skip, put down by the vet. Something had happened and 2500LB Skip could not get up on his back legs. He was almost 10 years old and had lost his yoke partner, Twirl, 5 years before. Oh Skip. How we miss your large Brown Swiss presence. Spud and Tater mooed for days. So many tears have been shed. Large animals leave such a large hole in the heart. It's different for each of us, of course. So much of farm life is also about farm death. There is not an animal on our farm that is going to out-live us. Probably. Every day as we do chores and make the rounds, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, lambs, chickens and chicks, cats and dog, there is so much exuberance and so many personalities. Animals enrich our days. But, the reality is that we will see them all go, some we will shepherd to the next life, some will give their lives for us, some will pass quietly, some will suffer and we mere mortals will try to figure out what to do. Our hearts will break over and over.

Emmet was 13 years old when he decided he wanted to train a team of steers. We watched Emmet and Skip and Twirl grow together. Luckily, Emmet kept pace with the guys. What an adventure. Yokes and Bows. Bobsleds and Discs. Chains and Stone Boats. None of us knew a thing about training. But we learned. Those boys loved Emmet. Emmet loved those boys.

There's more to say and yet, not really. There's no way to feel good about the loss of a beloved animal. There's no way to not feel like we failed somehow. But what are the options? Either we love and live with failure or we don't love and try to protect our little hearts. I would hate to have missed knowing Skip. He was handsome to the end. He was Emmet's adolescence. He was loved by our family and Spud and Tater. The end was peaceful and calm. We did the best that we could. And it will never feel like enough.