Sure enough though, after mating season was over, the vet came and confirmed that, against all odds, Mariolana had conceived what would most likely be her last child. Because she had struggled so much with her pregnancy the year before, it was unclear what this would mean for her, but both Mariolana and I knew she was still full of life. If only her child birthing years were over and she could simply be …
Eventually the goats got into the neighbor’s cabbage patch one too many times and my host thought it was a good time for me to move on. Little did I know then that my time herding goats had launched me on a path to veganism and creating a world in which I would not be warned against caring for my fellow animals, but encouraged to do so.
I’m sad to say I do not know if Mariolana made it through that winter, as I could not bear to write and ask. Whether she died on her own or was killed, I wonder how many years were taken from her through the continued weight of birth, milking and loss that she bore throughout her life.
When I get the chance to visit with a goat now and again, I often see Mariolana reflected in their eyes. I remember feeding her chestnuts and praying that somehow my love and the extra chestnuts would save her. But in the end it couldn’t … Only helping my Italian host to see Mariolana as a sentient, unique being whose body was her own, would have.
I now live my life as a vegan educator for her and for the billions of animals who are being used and discarded, who pay the price for our lust for milk, eggs, and flesh with their children, with the wear on their bodies and finally, with their lives.