the end of a chapter, good-bye goats and chicken

On Sunday, a gal who last year bought one of our goat babies, took our whole herd of four goatie girls home to her  farm an hour southwest of here.  We helped load the girls into the truck, waved goodbye, and then Sophie and I went inside and curled up on the sofa and cried.  It was a really hard decision, one we talked about for more than six months.  One of the reasons I chose this gal to take them was that she was happy to take them all together—two mama and baby pairs, the two babies having never left our place, never been away from their families—I was glad, when they were shaking in anxiety in the horse trailer, that they were standing together, pressed close, not alone and separated.  But still, yesterday and today I have felt both relieved and terribly sad.

Sophie was two when we first got Lucy and Fancy.  Lucy was only eight weeks old.  I would put Luc, barely walking, on my back and three of us would take our goats on walks through the forest every day.  Over the next five years we mid-wived goat births, played with goat babies, learned to milk them, plus how to make different kinds of yoghurt and cheeses.  When Luc got old enough he and Sophie would spend hours out in the goat yard playing with our growing herd, and since we stayed home a lot in those days, it was wonderful to have this source of fun and adventure right here in our yard.

The last year or so, however, more and more it has been me going out to feed and milk, as Sophie and Luc have grown into other interests.  It isn’t that I wanted my kids to do more of the work—I enjoyed the work of it, exercise that benefited other creatures, plus being outside early in the quiet mornings, I liked all that, the smell and sounds of the barn—but taking care of the goats was becoming something I did away from my kids, instead of something I did with them.  That wasn’t what I wanted.  And although we all loved them, the kids want to go into town and play with friends more and more, rather than stay here at home, not to mention traveling, something I’ve never been comfortable doing with lactating goats.  “Goats” was becoming an item on the incredibly crowded to-do list.  But Fancy, Lucy, Emma, and Sally are people, not to-do list items!

So we talked about letting them move on, about our priorities, about what was best for them, for us, for Sophie, for Luc, for me.  And we talked about it some more.  And some more.  And finally it seemed like it was time.

I went and sat in the barn on the empty milking-stand yesterday.  There were still whirls in the straw on the ground where they had made their beds their last night there.  But they’ve gone to a family with six children, horses, other goats, and dogs, a farm with pastures and barns, to a gal who grew up with goats and is comfortable with them, calling them “her babies.”  I think they’ll be fine.  I think I’ll be fine.  But I miss them.

In the same week we sent our last chicken, Whitey, to live with my Aunt and her chickens.  Whitey was our last chicken left standing, and it didn’t seem right to be a chicken on her own.  Chickens want other chickens around, and we didn’t want to get more chicks.  Sophie and I don’t eat eggs anymore and Luc increasingly won’t.  Not to mention that Henry wants to chase them….

So our little micro-farm has been disbanded.  For now anyway.

It’s so weird not to go out and milk goats in the morning!  Weird not to be worrying about them on cold nights, or timing my day around when I have to be at the barn. Weird not to hear animal sounds from the barn out there.  It’s so quiet!

All things pass.  What will be our next adventure?  Maybe bees again this spring.  And maybe a few beds of greens….

Or maybe something else entirely.

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