There is nothing worse about farming, or life in general, than the feeling of hopelessness and the realization that you need to put an animal down. I have had to do this several times throughout my life, as I am sure most people have. The difference with being on a farm is that usually the farmer is the one who has to perform the solemn act. It is almost never worth paying a vet and the rifle is much quicker and more humane than the stress of needles and strangers poking and prodding. The feeling I get before having to perform this duty is never anything that I would wish on anyone...worst enemies included. I am not ashamed to admit that it makes me cry. I suppose the fact that it makes me feel so bad is good in a way...I am not used to it and I don't do it often enough to make me callous of the responsibility.
This morning I had to euthanize our Llama, Jedi. He had been down for three days and couldn't get up. We kept him as comfortable as possible but there was something dreadfully wrong with his back or hips. He was old and I was completely confident that there was nothing more that could be done. With a mouth full of tasty grains he got to see one last glorious sunrise early this morning and then his suffering was over.
Jedi was a good llama and we have many fond memories of him. As a basically useless animal in almost all aspects of normal farm operations Jedi found his niche babysitting. We originally bought Jedi as a pack animal. Cindy and I had dreams of packing in the mountains with our string of llamas and we got fairly serious about the training and even went so far as to acquire the llama packs. Cindy would very often saddle up the llamas and go for long walks around our old property. Winding trails through the woods and hills, string of llamas behind her, Cindy has many happy memories with the 'boys'.
Sadly, we never went on our dream holiday with them. I don't know why...just didn't. We ended up selling all of them except for Jedi. He was our favorite and we thought he should hang out with us for the rest of his days.
As I mentioned earlier, Jedi's best days were spent diligently watching over the baby critters of all types. He was especially effective with the lambs when we had sheep. They would drive him nuts climbing all over him and on more than one occasion we would look out to a lamb sleeping comfortably on his back as he laid chewing his cud. Lately though Jedi's responsibility was the calves. He would pace feverishly, humming noisily whenever a calf would escape. We always knew right where to look! As the calves grew, Jedi would become their unwilling playmate. I am sure they drove him crazy, but he never complained.
He never spit on anyone. He always reluctantly put up with our petting and I will miss his worried humming this summer when a calf squeezes through the barbwire.
Jedi was a good llama and a valued animal on our farm. I will miss him.