December 24, 2009

Gift of the Old One - A Christmas Story


GIFT OF THE OLD ONE
by Eunice Day, Washington, ME.

The young couple had made their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of goats. The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm, and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside.

The old folks no longer showed their goats, for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk, and a few kids each year and the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. "Why do you not at least dispose of "The Old One?” She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her. You should cut corners and save where you can. Why do you keep her anyway?" The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears. He replied softly, “We keep her because of love. Only because of love."

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

So it was, that because of the leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One.”

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved goats. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back.

He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife. They thanked those who had come to their aid, and the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandanna. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."

And so, he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them. Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most boughs, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward. There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift.

Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe. At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow. The kids were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The milkers pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved. Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift Because of love, Only Because of love.

This wonderful story has been circulating the different online goat groups and forums for years but I never get tired of reading it and it still brings a tear to my eye every time. The picture is of our senior doe "Trouble" and while I wouldn't call her old yet, at 7 1/2 years she is our goat Grandmother on the farm. We have had Trouble since she was a baby, she was one of our first Boer goats. You can read her story here or you can see a sweet video of Trouble and some of her kids here. Trouble is a little spoiled and very loved by us...she will always have a home here on the farm for the rest of her days.

22 comments:

Danielle Barlow said...

A beautiful story :)
Wishing you and your beautiful goats a very Merry Christmas!

Melodie said...

I love this story! I believe animals that have spent their lives serving us humans deserve to have their old age,turned out to pasture.

Merry Christmas!

Flartus said...

Well, this is a first-time read for me. Very sweet! Goat owners must be a good-hearted bunch.

Terry said...

Since I am new to goats, this story is new to me. Thanks for posting it. I do not imagine that my two silly wethers would ever have a courageous moment, so it is nice to hear about grand dame goats!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

thank you soooo much for this wonderful christmas story! it really made my evening!

Gail said...

Beautiful. Merry Christmas!

Regina said...

Jennifer...what a touching and "loving" story. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Merry Christmas and a very wonderful New Year for you and yours.

Hugs,
Regi

Callie said...

Thank you for a wonderful heartwarming story! Merry Christmas!

Twisted Fencepost said...

Sweet story! Brought tears to my eyes, too.
Merry Christmas, to all of you at Shiloh Prairie Farms!

Mama Pea said...

Thank you for this lovely story. I had never heard it before. (Glad I hadn't put on my make-up before reading it.)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours . . . including the goats, of course!

Mom L said...

A very beautiful story! And I'm really glad you've created a forever home for Trouble and the others.

Nancy in Iowa

Claire said...

What a sweet story - I never read it before. Thanks for posting it! Merry Christmas to you and all the goats!

Pricilla said...

Our Pricilla is 12 and she will be with us until she dies...she will just go to pasture and enjoy what time she has left. She is a good old goat and we love her.

PJ said...

Do you serve kleenex with your posts? Tears are just streaming down my face right now. I empathize with that couple. While I don't have goats I felt the same way about my beloved Taffy (my 4-legged baby), We had her for over 17 years before she passed.

PJ

Nancy M. said...

What an awesome story! Merry Christmas to y'all too!

LindaSueBuhl said...

Sweet story - I recently had one of my sweet old gals pass away - her descendants in our little herd still miss her - and so do I. Good goats seem to get better with age and bad tempered ones - well they aren't any nicer! One thing with goats is the distinct personalities each has - just sold off a doeling I'd named Brat - and it was an appropriate name - new owners think she is adorable! LOL

KathyB. said...

A very touching story, and how many of us are prone to keep an animal originally raised and kept to produce for us, only to keep them well beyond productive years and on into old age simply because we love them? ( come on all you old practical farmers and keepers of livestock, admit it!)

Sandy said...

What a beautiful story. It's been years since my goats all passed. What amazing creatures they are.

DogsMom said...

Thank you for sharing this. I too am a first time reader. You are keeping the story alive.

DayPhoto said...

Thank you for sharing this, it is the first time reading for me. Sometimes I wish I could take all the animals in the world and have them live with me. then I think about what that would mean and realize it just can't be done.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Genny said...

I love this story so much. I had heard it a couple years ago and had forgotten about it until I read it here again on your blog. Thank you so much for posting it.

thesurpriselily said...

Oh, I just loved it. We drive through your area all the time, maybe I can talk my cowboy into a new goat (my daughter's goat just passed away). Love your entire blog. Stopping by from SITS and will definitely be back. We farm gals have to stick together!