Nana wouldn’t be living at Farm Sanctuary if not for her daughter Wednesday. In fact, she might have never left her former home—a makeshift petting zoo at a horse farm in Florida—had Wednesday not been fighting for her life.

Wednesday was born with contracted tendons—a condition that caused unnatural bending in her legs, and prevented her from standing and walking properly. This is especially dangerous in ruminants (like goats), because their organs can shut down from staying down for too long. To survive, Wednesday had to get back on her feet.

In most cases, farmers won’t treat “livestock” with special needs—opting instead to cull them or leave them to fend for themselves. Wednesday had better luck: the petting zoo owner kept her and Nana on. Still, their rescuer, Elizabeth, worried about what life had in store for these two. Would the novelty of seeing these goats wear off once baby Wednesday grew up? Would she even be able to live that long? And what would become of Nana? Would she be forced to breed other goats for entertainment, even while grieving her child?

Elizabeth knew the owner well, having kept her own horses on his farm. With a little coaxing, she got him to relinquish Wednesday—and Nana shortly after. She cared for them as best as she could while searching for more permanent placement. Eventually, she found Farm Sanctuary, and asked if we could help.

Nana with Director of Facilities Mario Ramirez

With direct access, through Farm Sanctuary, to cutting-edge veterinary care at Cornell University, Wednesday had a fighting chance. After completing another Florida-bound transport—taking Boris lamb and some hens to their new home—our transport team picked up our two newest residents and brought them back to New York. The two settled into a warm straw-filled pen at our Melrose Small Animal Hospital before going to Cornell for more in-depth diagnostics and care.

Aside from an easily treatable case of Coccidia—a contagious intestinal parasite—Nana was in good health. Wednesday, on the other hand, needed more intensive care. At the time, her legs bent at a 90-degree angle; in order for her to walk, her doctors needed to straighten them to 15 to 20 degrees. Though surgery was risky, it was Wednesday’s only shot.

After just one surgery, Wednesday’s legs flexed between 20 and 30 degrees—a much better result than even her doctors had anticipated! Though they warned that she would always be stiff in her movements, they felt confident that she would be able to bear weight, and walk and live as healthy goats do.

She and Nana returned to their pen at Farm Sanctuary, and we resumed our care regimen to aid in her recovery. She would need to wear casts as she healed, and required pain medication and fluids at first, to keep her comfortable and healthy. We cheered Wednesday on as she stood—and even walked—around her stall. Her prognosis was looking better each day.

Then, the unthinkable happened: we arrived one morning to find that Wednesday had passed away overnight. Her loss shattered our entire team; we had all fallen in love with her, and had high hopes for her recovery. We also worried about Nana, and the toll such a loss would take on her. This strong and affectionate mother goat, who joined us on our quest to save her daughter’s life, would now need our help to rebuild her own.

We spent extra time with Nana, and grieved Wednesday’s loss together. After a little while, we agreed that she should join some other goats. While no one could ever replace her daughter, goats are herd animals and find comfort in each other. So, we decided to try her with another small and spunky mother-daughter pair: Willow and Josie-Mae.

Willow and Josie-Mae

Like Wednesday, Josie-Mae is young, small, and has leg issues—she wears a prosthetic to help her get around. We hoped these similarities might bring Nana some comfort, and that it might help in her healing to look after Josie-Mae as well. She and Willow are also alike, in that they’re tough and fond of rough-housing. Thankfully, they all got along from the start, and Nana continues to settle in well.

We wish every rescue story could have a happy ending. We wish that Wednesday was still here with us and her mom. We can’t control every outcome. But what we can do is make every second count for our rescued residents—no matter how long they are with us. Wednesday’s life mattered—to Nana, to Elizabeth, and to us. And there are so many others whose lives matter, too. We carry Wednesday’s memory in our hearts, and through our work to help more farm animals and families like hers.