We searched the fields. We looked in barns. We looked in the woods. I crawled through so many thorn bushes only to find that the footprints in the snow I was following hit a dead end and turned back.
When nothing came of that the sense of foreboding got worse. Babies make noise.
We kept on searching. My sister followed to dog to she if she would pick up a scent.
I searched the play area.
A quick search revealed no body. I'd have to look closer.
Then I saw it.
A chicken with an entrail in its beak.
Sheep had been slaughtered both for meat and to thin the herd. I prayed that this was a byproduct of that.
I fucked up. I looked left when I should have looked right.
I my attention was fixated on the snow. Where another entrail lay, where I found a tuft of fur.
Bones came out next to me. She was never supposed to be in this area, but she's Bones. And she was the mother. I hoped she'd give me direction.
Instead she stood near me, rooted herself to the ground, and gave a soft bleating. Again and again.
She was obviously calling to her child or children. At one part I let my hope lie to me, trick me into thinking there was a response.
It was a chicken.
Distorted by an echo or something, but a chicken.
Bones just stood there. Calling.
I wanted her to move. I desperately wanted this not to be the place, and if I could get a better look at her hoof print in the snow maybe it would give me some insight into where the place was. My sister had been skeptical of my pronouncement that I was so sure I'd seen only deer tracks down the path I didn't take because, she said, Bones' tracks looked like deer tracks.
Bones just stood there. Calling.
Eventually Bones moved. Her tracks did not look like the deer tracks I'd seen.
My sister returned with no kid, alive or dead, in tow. She told me that nothing had been slaughtered here.
It was all but certain Bones' kid (or kids, goats usually have twins) was dead. But there was a missing piece. Birth is not clean. It is not spotless. There should have been traces.
My sister found the answer later.
Like I said, I fucked up. I looked left when I should have looked right, I fixated on the area where I did find evidence rather than looking to see if there might be evidence in other areas.
A bit up the hill, a bit around the tree, in shade, on mud, where from a distance everything looked like mud, mud, and more mud. My sister found the scant remains. Tiny hooves and such.
Picked clean. Devoured.
I don't know if you can truly describe what you feel like when a part of you dies.
I won't try.
When I told my mother what we'd found I don't think I had any emotions left.
I spent a lot of time sitting the floor, leaning against a door. My head drooped.
The best we can hope for is that the kid was born dead. It would be tragic, but there'd have been no alternatives.
DHHS forced my sister to leave her farm. If she didn't, then they were very clear that they'd take away her baby and put him in foster care.
A farm without a farmer. I've said it before. Cody is a great help, a great assistant, even a great partner, but he's no farmer.
My sister is the farmer. Cody didn't even notice the birth had taken place until the next day. My sister would have been on top of that shit. Which given that it was a night birth away from the herd in an area that was good for birthing but terrible for evading predators, could have made all the difference. Even if there had been something wrong with the kid(s) there's a very good chance that my sister being on site would have made a difference.
My sister can work miracles with animals and has kept alive things the textbooks say will be inavertably dead in no time flat.
If the fucking farmer had been at the farm and that kid/those kids were born live, then they'd still be fucking alive.
As is. To think too much about it is the stuff of nightmares.
And oh my God, Bones. She was standing there, yards at most from the remains of her kids, calling out again, and again, and again. To no response. Because dead goats don't bleat.
I've never even heard Bones make noise before.
It's a farm, and most of the animals are just livestock, but Bones . . . Bones is Bones. She's part friend and part family. That's to me, and I don't even life at the farm.
Baby animals dying needlessly would have hurt me regardless, but the dead kid(s) was/were Bones' kid(s). She was the one who lost her children.
Everything else can be fixed. It's horrible, but there are solutions. Work is being done to get my sister's family legally reunited. (Which would have the added bonus of returning her to the farm.) The newborn won't remember any of this, the child (now 3.75) probably won't and if he does it'll be dim hazy memories without much meaning. Hell, he's already starting to forget the events that kicked the whole thing off and it's only been five months.
Scars heal. My sister's family will mend given time. The kicked in door has long since been replaced. The evil neighbors have the facts stacked against them.
But we can't resurrect newborn goats.