Owning a farm comes with making a lot of decisions. Sometimes, those decisions are easy. Sometimes, they are hard. I hate the hard decisions. These decisions are the ones about the animals themselves. The hardest decisions are the ones about letting animals go.
On December 19th, 2020 I had to make the decision to let my mare, Julie, go. She was 28 years old and I believed she would live forever. She had such a tough spirit but her body started to give out last summer. It was harder to keep weight on her. She started to move slower and she just seemed to be in pain. Here are a few photos of her last few days. She stuck it out until the end but her last 24 hours she wasn’t comfortable standing or laying down. The vet said we could give her meds to keep her pain down but the end result would be the same, it was Julie’s time.
Losing Julie was hard, it was the hardest, saddest, most painful thing I’ve experienced in a long time. Losing her felt like losing a piece of my soul. However, losing her also opened my eyes to all that I have. I have her daughter Fae, and Fae is exactly what I needed. As I’ve dealt with the decision to let Julie go, my other animals have reminded me that I have so much to focus on and care for and love on. I am thankful for my friends, family and my animals. I don’t know what I would do without everyone.
I am sure I will write more about losing Julie as it is still sinking in that she is gone. However, this post wasn’t supposed to be about Julie. It was supposed to be about making the decisions to keep or sell goats. My goats are relatively recent to me. I originally decided to get a goat in 2018 because I am allergic to poison ivy and goats love to eat it. Now, I have a lot more because goats are like chips, you can’t have just one.
My first goat was/is Meredith “Mary” and I got her because she was beating up her herd mate and her owner was afraid of her horns. I met Mary and knew she was supposed to come to my farm. I love Mary to bits! She is stubborn, opinionated, loves attention and is a great momma. However, she doesn’t like being in a big herd. My herd of between 10 to 15 goats stresses her out. She has made this known by going after my younger doelings (not related to her).
Over the past few weeks she has given me signs that she needs a smaller herd. A place where she is the head goat and more of a family pet. I never thought I would be faced with the decision of selling her and her daughters. From the beginning I always said Mary and any of her children were keepers. Especially, if she had any doelings, they would definitely be keepers.
However, it seems that what I planned and what will happen are two different things. I am selling Mary, Jazzy & Pixie this coming Friday. It hurts a lot to let them go but I know that they need something different than I can provide. I remember looking at Jazzy and Pixie not so long ago and apologizing to them for the fact that they don’t get the attention they want because their bigger brothers are attention hogs. It’s the same for Mary, she allows her sons to take the spotlight because they crave it.
I have raised and trained all of my goats to crave human attention and companionship. Below is a photo of one my young does that wouldn’t allow me to get within 10 feet of her when she first got to the farm. She now comes up to me and follows me around like a dog. We even had a lot of snuggles today while I started writing this post.
Looking at my little goat herd I have to remember that my goats may have to leave the farm. My goal with my goats is to train them to be friendly, loveable and people oriented. It will be interesting to see how Surprise reacts to Mary leaving. I know Mary’s boys will be upset but they will survive. Having fewer goats will be good. Truth be told, part of this decision is because both Maddie & Evie are due to have kids soon and I really don’t want more than 15 goats. I will still have Mary’s bloodlines in the Evie & Maddie’s kids as Ivan is the sire of the unborn kids.
The one thing I’ve learned from running my small farm is that change happens and to expect it. Making decisions is also part of this job/lifestyle. As I move forward in this career/life my goal is not forget the animals that have helped form the farm. Stay tuned for more updates!