Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A New Friend

Rosey Posey has a new friend today.  After the death of Blossom, she was quite lonely, despite the fact that she and Blossom never really got on all that well.  Since a bleating goat is just as annoying as a barking dog, I knew I was going to have to find her a buddy quickly.  I had decided on a whether(castrated male goat) as it occurred to me that the 1/2 gallon a day of milk Rosey will give us is more that we really need.

Three and a half gallons of milk is more than we use in a week, even with two gallons going into various types of cheese.  Our aim at WeeHavyn is to avoid producing in excess so two milkers are not necessary.  We will deal with the dry period when it comes.   In fact, I am hoping that Rosey will be a persistent enough milker that I can milk her for over a year without breeding her back.  The edema that happens at the end of pregnancy and right after kidding are very hard on a goat's udder, permanently stretching the ligaments that support it.  If we can decrease the number of kiddings she has during her lifetime, her udder should stay in better shape.

Fate, as it often does when I take the trouble to notice, had a pleasant surprise for me.  The breeder of Rosey and Blossom offered me Iris, an 18 month old doe.  Iris is too small to breed, only about half Rosey's size, so she will simply be a companion just as a whether would be.  She is a stout little bouncy girl with giant airplane ears who loves attention and petting.  It was quite obvious that Rosey remembered her former herd-mate as there was very little of the pushing and shoving that generally occurs when a pecking order is being established.  I've never heard less noise from Rosey since she came here.

Hello Iris!  WeeHavyn welcomes you...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was a sad day at WeeHavyn.  We lost our littlest goat.  Her illness came on suddenly.  When I went out yesterday morning, she couldn't hold her head up to drink.  I knew that there was little hope.  Despite this, I gave her a drench of molasses for energy and probiotics but she was gone within an hour.  Rosey didn't fuss about it much yesterday, but today she cries for a companion.

I have been through this many times with baby animals.  That doesn't make it any easier, and I don't think it should be.  I still spend some time wondering if I made a mistake or missed something I shouldn't have.  But my experience does give me one vital piece of knowledge.  There is only so much I can do.  Sometimes I even think these animals live in spite of any treatment I give them rather than because of it.  Perhaps this is overly philosophical, but it is impossible for me to be an effective livestock manager if my emotions get so tangled up that I can't make appropriate decisions.  Farming on any scale is not like having pets.

I think this may be the large chasm that separates those who farm for a living and those who feel that such activities are cruel.  With the exception of industrial farms, which really have no justification besides that of profit and our demand for very cheap food, most farmers treat their animals as well as possible.  They have to.  A mistreated or unhappy animal does not produce well.  Yet "treated well" is a relative term.  Where a pet owner might spend thousands of dollars to treat cancer in a dog for one more year of his companionship, a farmer might not be able to spend a hundred dollars to save a baby pig.  Economics simply won't allow it.

So I must say goodbye to Blossom.  She will be missed.  I have found a companion for Rosey and I am picking her up tonight.

Life goes on.....