Hootenanny’s Silence

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Here I am again.

It’s not a bad place to be.  It’s kind of beautiful, although there is a longing in me as well… a sadness at my own frailty…my inability to solidify what I sense and see and hear beyond the physical realm.  I know she’s not that far away.  I can feel her here next to me, just beyond the veil. But I can’t see her anymore–I can’t touch her.  I hear her voice, but it has an ethereal quality to it, not like the laughing bleat of her earthly voice.

Hootenanny is gone.

After thirteen years by my side, my naughty little goat has crossed from this plane to the next, and I can’t see her anymore.  I will never catch her butting defenseless roosters, bullying horses out of their food, sticking her tongue out at the pigs as she refuses to let them enter their own house, gleefully eating produce freshly donated by Wegman’s, playing tricks on volunteers as she follows them around “supervising” their work, or sleeping peacefully after a long day of mischief in a soft pile of hay, her head resting on her beloved Ruckus.

I never believed in the maxim that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.  Hootenanny was a naughty goat, sometimes even a bully, and I plan to speak of her that way.  I loved her maddening antics.  I can’t tell you how many times Hootenanny outsmarted me over the years, and I found myself running in circles as she dodged and jumped and narrowly escaped me while I tried in vain to get her to go hang out with the other goats and stop harassing the rest of the peaceful animals at Indraloka.

I remember one time, about five years ago, there was a teenaged boy cleaning the barn.  I went to check on him, and found Hootenanny, a broom in her mouth, chasing him around the barn!  Shaking with suppressed laughter, instead of coming to his rescue, I quietly backed out to get my camera.  Alas, by the time I returned, the volunteer had managed to get his broom back and was busily trying to pull Hootennany’s head out of the feed bin, where she was gorging on sweet feed.

So you see, she was not a good goat.  And she was certainly not a gentle goat.  Hootenanny was a funny, fierce, stubborn, clever, naughty goat.  A goat not easily forgotten.  That was my girl.  My maddening, ridiculous, lovable little instigator.

A few months ago, Hootenanny fell ill.  Despite the valiant efforts of a team of vets and round-the-clock care here at the sanctuary, she fell into a vicious cycle, improving slightly for a few days, and then coming down with new symptoms over and over again, growing weaker every time.  Ruckus, her best friend and lifelong companion, spent many an hour grooming and comforting her.  Their love for one another was complete, all-encompassing, and unconditional.

On the first full day of spring, in the quiet of the afternoon as the cows and horses napped in the breeze, Hootenanny called me to her side.  She fell silent as I knelt beside her, collapsing in my arms.  Bent over her with my arms beneath her head, we made close eye contact as I said, “It’s okay, baby.  I love you.”

The Anishinaabe death song welled up from deep inside me.  The Anishinaabe people say that during the fourth stanza of the death song, the spirit crosses to the star world.  And if the eagle comes soon after, we know that her spirit has safely arrived.

I looked her in the eye, cradled her gently, and sang with love, concentrating on her ease and comfort through my tears.  As the song began, her eyes flickered for just a moment with her old spark.  At the fourth stanza, the light in her eyes faded and her spirit gently lifted out of her body.  I cried a bit more and laid her to rest.

Less than an hour later, an eagle swooped down all the way to the barn door, circled the pastures a few times, and then flew high into the sky, fading from sight.

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18 thoughts on “Hootenanny’s Silence

    Herma lahiri said:
    March 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    As always, Indra, a beautifully written story. I hope that one day you will fulfill your readers wish and start writing full-time. We are waiting patiently. By the way, how is Ruchus dealing with his loss?



      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      March 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you. I also hope to write and run the sanctuary full-time someday soon. When Hootenanny crossed over, Ruckus stood and looked at her body for a moment, sighed, came over and kissed me, gazed at her for a few more minutes, then kissed her face and walked away. He knows she has not gone very far.


    volunteer4paws said:
    March 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Hootenanny: the first goat that ever knocked me over, headbutting me in the rear while I helped Ashley look for a kitten in the hay barn above the horse stalls two summers ago. I’ll remember her fondly.


      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      March 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you Jen. Being butted by Hootenanny is a rite of passage. It means you are accepted as one of ours…


    Deborah Caudell said:
    March 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Oh, Indra, another BEAUTIFUL story. I’m sorry to about Hootenanny. You are in my thoughts.


      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      March 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you Deb. We are OK. Death is just another part of life, as beautiful as birth. Of course I miss her, but I am more focused on my gratitude at having had her in my world.


    carolbroll said:
    March 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Indra, A lovely post, even though it was hard to finish reading through all my tears.  My heart is with you. Love,Carol


    Kim said:
    March 28, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Hello Indra I was glad to have met Hootenanny a few times. As you know I love goats. Your story is beautiful! I recentluy lost one of my beloved goats also a rescue “Candy Corn”. Her death was more tragic and not as peaceful as Hoots. I miss her and still do the counting 1, 2, 3, 4 and now no more 5. I look for her to walk up the hill when it is time to bed down for the night. Having animals is a wonderful experience but these times are hard. Looking forward to coming back to the farm to see everything you have done.


      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      March 28, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Kim, I do remember how hard losing Candy Corn was for you. You and she were blessed to share the special times you did share together. We look forward to seeing you again, soon.


    karla said:
    March 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    did not expect to be crying at my desk this morning but this story was as Beautiful as it was encrediby sad! If people could only be more like animals we would surly have peace in this world. They are are hearts and souls! Bless you for loving them all as you do!


    Karen said:
    March 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

    A beautiful tribute. Pygmy goats to be so small have such large personalities at time. Godspeed Hootenanny!


    Barbara said:
    April 4, 2013 at 2:25 am

    What a beautiful tribute to Hootenanny; there’s no one who could have comforted her more at her final hour. You do amazing things for the animals.


    Words Escape… | Indraloka Animal Sanctuary said:
    July 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    […] and Hootenanny were young when their first family decided, after only a few months, that having goats wasn’t […]


    Michelle said:
    December 31, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I, too, have a wicked little goat. His name is Pirate Joe (he has an ear wattle right where a pirate would have an earring) and he’s a very baaad goat. I love him.


    […] in safe and snug. And there was Gilligan, sleeping contentedly between two goats, Ruckus and Hootenanny, who were lying in a protective embrace around the tiny […]


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