Friday, April 01, 2011

RIP Jedi

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.


  1. It's always hard to say goodbye to an old friend, and I think that despite the tears it's best done by a friend, with tears.

    I hate it, too.

  2. awww.....jedi sounds like a very special llama! i never knew that they were social or herders, (babysitter) types....or maybe jedi was just one in a million?

    your words are a lovely tribute.

    thanks for sharing and so sorry for your loss.


  3. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been for you to put Jedi down. That is the ultimate gift of love, on the farm. To end the pain an suffering quickly. But, to be the one doing it when this is your pet, is so selfless.
    The images you painted about him are so endearing. I hope you got photos of him with the lambs clamouring over him and sleeping on him. What a treasure.

  4. Yes, llamas are quite social. They enjoy being part of a herd. When the other llamas were sold, we worried about Jedi's happiness. But, he quickly became a sheep or a cow and appeared content. For whatever reason he almost exclusively hung out with the babies. The cows would be on one end of the pasture and the calves and Jedi would be elsewhere. He would panic when a calf was missing. Yes, Valerie it was very hard indeed. Thank you all for the kind words.

  5. Do you have any photos of Jedi you could post. This post is very moving.

  6. I have looked for pics of the llamas and I can't find one of Jedi. It is too bad. We take pictures, but not many of the livestock. Should have, because he became quite special to us.

  7. Ahhhhh, John, terrible for you! Rest in peace, sir Jedi. And hopefully you might rest easy too.

  8. My condolences, John. This is definitely the hardest part of animal husbandry, one that thankfully I have not had much experience with first hand. But it is good to hear that he had a good life and will be remembered fondly and regularly.

    Just discovered your blog/business and I would just like to offer a word of support. I think what you are doing is of utmost importance and it is uplifting to be gradually discovering other Albertans with a mindset that seems similar to my own.

    Peace and comfort to you and yours.