Friday, December 2, 2011

Black Frost

We had our first really hard freeze Thursday night.  Many of the hardy plants that had thus far kept their green summer clothes were pale and black in the morning.  Each little leaf was sprinkled with lacy crystals and hoarfrost pushed up from the ground in a display of white ribbons worthy of gracing any Christmas package.  My breath plumed before me in the pale dawn light as I broke the ice in water pans and filled the hay nets.  Goats peeked at me from inside their sheds, reluctant to come out into the frigid air.
With the cold weather, comes a tough decision.  While I enjoy my goats very much, I must always keep in mind why I have them.  Our livestock has a purpose, to feed us with meat and milk.  It is easier with the bucks.  Claude has been destined for the table from the moment he was born.  He will be treated with respect and dignity and we will see to it his sacrifice is gentle and appreciated.  It is not so straightforward with the does.  They can have babies and give milk.  Yet they do not always do this well enough to be kept.
Tinkerbell has not fared well in the cold weather.  She has not been terribly productive from the beginning, starting out at three quarts of milk a day, and dropping down to two at only three months into her lactation, and now down to one at four months in.  It is a harsh fact, but a poor producer eats just as much, or more, than a good one and we cannot afford to have pets.  It's true it has not had an easy year for her, kidding twice within eight months.  I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I feel hampered and frustrated by my inexperience.  While I had cows for eleven years before this, the goats only came into my life this May.  I have been surprised at how fun they are, with their amusing antics and affectionate nature.
Still…. A decision must be made.

1 comment:

  1. Possible factors for loss of production:
    Worms
    Quality/Quantity of Feed/Reserves
    Genetics
    Age

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