Yes, you read that header correctly.
As of Monday, November 4th, we now have an empty goat barn.
Giving up our goats wasn`t a decision that we made lightly. Far from it. This was something that was discussed over and over for the past two years. Those of you who own goats know that they are more like dogs than farm animals. The decision to sell our herd was one that was arrived at with a goodly amount of tears, rest assured. You may have noticed that I changed my blog header a few weeks ago. That was because I knew that within weeks, I would no longer be a yodeling goatherder.
The reasons we sold out are varied. The most important reason was that we could not win the fight against the barber pole worm. Yes, we have tried that. We have tried every wormer of every brand available. Nothing stopped the losses. Last year we lost 80% of our kids. 80%. That was devastating to us. Not because of any money that we lost due to lack of sales. Heck, in Tioga County you can`t give goats away. No, the devastation came as we watched kid after kid slowly dying from anemia. And yes, we have tried that. No matter what was suggested, we had tried it over our decade as caprine tenders. We kept them off pasture to break the cycle as is suggested. We still lost goats. We went herbal. We lost goats. We have officially declared the barber pole worm the winner. We give up. They win.
Another reason for our leaving the goat biz is that our lives are changing. Miss is now a senior in high school with an eye on college. She has no time to do chores what with play practice, historian`s club, dances, her boyfriend, college visits, and a hundred other after school activities. She has not had the time or interest to show at fair for a couple years now. Her not being able to – or wishing to – attend to her afternoon chores became a burden on her father and I. When we went into this, it was agreed that chores were to be split equally. When one member began slacking, we would have a family discussion about fairness and respect for the time of others. As much as she loves her goats, she also wants to live her life. She is soon to be eighteen and the world is a big and wonderful place, filled with treasures just waiting to be discovered. We understand. Heck, we`re changing as well.
Mister and I are now looking at being able to perhaps kick back and do a little travelling once my daughter is enrolled in the college of her choice. We can`t enjoy these years together fishing in Canada, or going to Boston to see a Bruins game, or even driving to Cayuga Lake for a romantic weekend if we have goats that need to be milked, fed, and watered daily. People change. The things they want out of life changes. To become static is to die. We`re not getting any younger, and my battle with GRD has limited me in what I can do in terms of heavy farm work. I can also see that the upkeep of farming is beginning to get to my husband as well, although he would never admit it.
And of course, there is the cost. We have had to decide what to spend what amounts to thousands of dollars a year on. Do we pay for the goats or college for our daughter? Again, as much as we adored our goats, our daughter`s future had to come first. As I mentioned earlier, there is no market for dairy goats in this neck of the woods. We could not give our kids away. That is not a joke. We cannot sell the milk. We couldn`t sell the kids. And we were spending tons of cash on hay, grain, vets, medication, and wormers. I am serious when I say I think we spent close to five hundred dollars just on various wormers last year.
All to no avail.
Five hundred dollars can buy a couple college text books. We weighed the financial pros and cons, and saw that we have been losing money hand over fist for years. We simply couldn`t image having to have to get rid of our herd, even though they were slowly pushing us closer and closer to financial strain. We loved them, each and every one.
We will miss them terribly. I cannot foresee a spring where I can`t get to hold a new goat kid in my arms. Sure, we can go visit our girls, they`re ten minutes away at dear friend`s barn. She runs a huge dairy and show line and bought every single one of our goats. I`m not sure if visiting will be the same as being able to lay in the pasture on a sunny day while a dozen little hooves climb over you. I suppose it will have to do.
We do still have our poultry to attend to, and of course our brown Swiss steer, Mooka. We`re not completely out of small farming yet, don`t worry. I will have my chickens until I am too damned old to climb that hill every morning. But from this day onward, we are no longer yodeling goatherders. Having dairy goats was a wonderful experience for all of us, one that we will always treasure. One that is so treasured, in fact, that my daughter has chosen this picture for her yearbook image.
Goodbye Bitsy, Freya, Jennifer, Calliope, Perseus, Daryl, Fran, Felicia, Farrah, Idunn, Sif, Skadi, and the many others that we had the pleasure of knowing over the years.
For the last time, I sign off as that goofy goatherder.