Life on the Farm, at times, involves difficult choices.
Last December (due to the antics of one male goat we named Houdini), we had an amazing number of baby goats born. Now, the lore amongst the farmers is that animals do not mate in the summer, as they are wise enough to know that birth in mid-winter is rugged. Or, so the stories go ....
We have a relatively small farm, about 5 acres. Suitable for a handful of goats and some sheep. Until Houdini made his mark, we had the perfect number.
Many hours of long talks, pensive times. We sold several animals to neighboring farms. Yet now, as the summer comes close, we had to decide. Out of kindness to these beings, we knew they must leave us. Some will go to new homes, some will be butchered.
Today was the day. Auction Day.
32 goats and 2 sheep have left our home.
I told myself that I wasn't going to cry - I took some final photos of these wonderful friends - I moved fences, while K encouraged them into the trailer. Dear neighbor friends came to help. and the tears streamed down my cheeks, unashamed.
My thoughts dift back to the 2 degree temperatures of last December, when a first time Mama goat had twins, and one was left in the middle of the field. We gathered up that small being, I held her under my coat and we rubbed her back to life with towels and blankets. This job was repeated a few times that month, as we had so many first time mama goats. We hung tarps on the barn, gave extra grain and tried to keep them warm. It was a successful month, and almost all lived through that startling birth time.
January came in with torrential rains here. One frantic morning, the river was flooding. The guards at the dam up river were opening the gates, and the river rose 12 feet within the twinkling of an eye. We quickly rellocated our animals from the pasture by the river where they had many acres, back to our farm on the hill.
Last February, one of our original flock, Una, had twins. She was a dear mama goat. Early in the morning, when she gave birth, we knew there was trouble. One of the twins didn't make it, and the other was struggling. We coaxed Una into the small shelter, trimmed back the long fiber around her teet and encouraged the baby to nurse. The little one survived and flourished.
This morning came, and it was time. We have kept only 3 of our goats. The originals of the flock who left today have been with us for six years. They have names - they have character, and we will miss them.
We promise ourselves that we can begin again, should we ever be able to aquire more acerage.
In three week's time, we will send off 10 of the shetland sheep, keeping only our original flock of 1 ram and 4 ewes. Today they all stood and watched as their friends left.
Fare-thee-well dear ones.