I had every intention of writing this post early in the week. But it’s been a tough one. The arctic blast has been hitting us this week with minus zero temperatures, and some wind that would stop a truck. And it was the “back to work” week after a very nice vacation. So up a little after 4 a.m. was quite a switch from vacation mode.
But on Monday I had to rush right home so that we could load two of our goats into the back of the Subaru for the trip to the butcher. It was one of the more difficult trips as Elf, one of the first 3 goats that I brought to the farm, was one of the two. And the young male that took the trip with her was actually her baby.
It was quite a low-key deal in the end. We did not have to stress about getting them into the car as they are all quite well-behaved, and all went without incident. We will have some lovely meat to share with friends, and lots of great memories of our Elf. I have been missing her this week, but we have her daughter Zelda (in the background of the photo) and Zelda’s girl Marigold to carry on that line.
And so it goes. Elf will always be a sweet part and memory of our little farm. That’s farming.
Well, today was the day. We took the last 3 sheep up to our favorite butcher this afternoon. This is always something that needs to be planned for carefully, and since John’s hand surgery, we needed an extra special plan for the loading of the sheep into John’s truck. His Ford F-350 1997 diesel rides very high off the ground. With my bursitis hip issues, I can no longer get into the truck without stepping onto a bucket or a milk crate anymore, so that should indicate how high we have to lift the sheep to get them into the bed of the truck! We definitely needed reinforcements, and our friend Jim Child of Hatchtown Farm came to help, as well as our teenage grandson and his mom.
We don’t have a livestock trailer anymore, so John and I opted to build a “crate” out of galvanized metal panels in the back of his pickup. We made a teepee-type structure, and then John used a tie-down strap over the top for extra safety. Luckily, we had the manpower, and as all the ewes were haltered, we really got through the loading in record time. The men had to lift the front end of the ewes up and over the tailgate, and I am still ok to lift the hind end in, thank goodness! And so we got them settled and took the 40 mile ride.
When we got home this evening and I went out to do chores it was definitely a different landscape. All goat, all the time. The one thing that I was able to do this evening was to put out the salt and mineral mixture with added copper that the goats really need. Sheep cannot have extra copper, so I have always had to get the extra copper into the milking stand mix for the goats as I could. This whole setup will definitely simplify my day to day operations from now on. But, I am really going to miss my sheepy girls. (But I won’t miss moving fence down in the pasture. Really!)
has come and gone, thankfully. We did have issues with the load up of the 4 animals that were scheduled to go, as we should have known! Always a problem when you least expect it. Our son usually comes over the night before and he helps get the animals hoisted into the back of our F-350 one-ton pickup. It sits very high off the ground, so that when I stand at the open tailgate it’s above my waist height. Not really convenient for me, and probably less than helpful for my husband. I hate the whole height thing… being short to begin with means that age has brought me down almost two inches. Yikes!
Anyway, our son hurt his shoulder and we didn’t get things organized very well (is that another sign of age?), so it was pitch dark Monday evening and the mud was incredibly squishy out there. I didn’t even want to begin hauling animals around in the mud and the dark, when the possibility of one getting past us was even more on our minds. So we decided to do it in the morning when there was actually some natural light happening. Much easier. It was a good choice, although the hoisting is still an issue. Halters are a wonderful thing, though, so we were able to tie them as we got them in, letting us keep the tailgate open for business. Phew!
I was quite down about having to let two of our three doelings go, but they will provide us with some good meat this year and we won’t have to feed animals that I probably won’t be milking next year. My only worry is that our one remaining doeling will be missing her friends. It’s a bigger issue with goats than I ever thought it would be. She was crying when I got home, but after I milked her mama she calmed down and they were quiet last night. Hopefully being with SnowPea will be enough for her. Ah yes, you never expect to see this with farm animals, but the goats make no bones about their feelings!
The weather is finally behaving more like the calendar date. Being a lovely cold and clear day yesterday allowed me to get a few end-of-season chores completed. Early in the day our shearer Emily came to shear the two sheep that are butcher-bound this coming week. And then I took the opportunity to go down to the pasture and pull all the flex net fence. I am not the best at rolling it up and getting it tied, but I managed. Then John did me the favor of going down with the tractor and moving the charger and all the fencing out. Last year we got caught by snow early and I never got down there. It always makes things difficult in the spring, and sometimes the mice run under the snow and gnaw at the lower wires. It was nice to get something taken care of in time for once!
It’s been a long week. A tough week. Still not feeling on top of the lingering chest cold and then of course everything changes so quickly when it’s breeding and butcher season. Kyra’s Boy’s departure left a big gap as he was always our meeter and greeter at the house, and then to top it off with a group of lambs and goats that needed loading to get out to the butcher (never something I look forward to as we have to catch them, and then hoist them into the back of the truck), it was a stressful one as well. Especially since I wrestled with and made a very tough decision about one of my original milking does, Sock Monkey, and sent her to the butcher with the two little guys. Life in the fast farm lane. I guess some people can make those decisions and not let it bother them, but it’s tough for me. Necessary decisions since this is much of the food we put on the table, but tough nonetheless. Although I really think I would rather it be this way. It wouldn’t give me such a hard time if I didn’t care so much for all of our animals, and that’s a good place to be, I think. We really do give each other life and enjoy our time together in the process.
Ah well, the weekend is here and full of promise… it’s not raining! And I can hardly wait to see the grandbabies all dressed up for Halloween :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!