Keeping farm animals is a full-time job.
Even when it's only your hobby.
It's a day-and-night 24/7-365 gig. Like having a dog. Or more accurately (in our case) twenty-seven dogs. It's a tiny bit like parenting, except it's an opt-in/opt-out arrangement.
And we knew all of this going in. In theory anyway.
We knew that homesteading doesn't stop or lessen because you have the flu or because you want to go on vacation or because there's a flood or a blizzard a driving freezing rain. Often it just amps up under these conditions. There are no breaks, no vacations, no days off.
But four years ago this was the life that we wanted. We were all in.
And then ever so slowly, so subtly, life changed.
Sage was ten when we moved here; Lupine had just turned six. But today they're different people. And in a way, I suppose, so are we.
And what made sense four years ago started to make less and less sense today.
I love these goats. I really do.
And that made our decision that much more difficult. But we realize that we were trading family time for farm time. And childhood felt like something that was slipping through our fingers. How finite it is felt more and more clear.
And so last week we made the difficult decision to re-home our goats.
We still have too many sheep, a couple of cows, some rabbits, and an unreasonable number of chickens and quail. But the goats were more fragile and required a lot more attention than our other more hardy animals.
And honestly, they were the greatest source of worry for me. Births were harder, finding adequate pasture for them to stay healthy on was harder, keeping them alive and strong was harder. And my love for them was deeper so the stakes were that much higher.
Which meant deciding to let them go was that much harder, too.
If you've never made friends with a goat, know that they are hands-down the friendliest farm animal you'll ever meet. (There is a reason we could never bring ourselves to butcher a single one.) And because of this our goats became our pets, and a herd of pets on top of everything else - well, it proved to be just a little too much.
And so our decision was made.
And then on Sunday, just like that, they were gone.
Before they were picked up I went to the barn to be with them one last time. To apologize. To have one last round of goat snuggles. To tell them I loved them and I was so glad for the years that we have shared.
Births, deaths, milking, mischief. So much love for these animals.
And then it was over. As quickly as it had begun.
Are we done with goats? No, I can't imagine we are. But we're putting family before farm at the moment, because that's what feels right right now. After Sage is grown I imagine that Lupine, Pete, and I may decide to raise goats again. Because this girl love her goats, and is the best goat midwife I've ever known.
But even she was ready.
Ready to say goodbye to goats so that our family can have more time together. We're downsizing our flock of sheep as well, back to what we intended all along - a small fiber flock, with a few lambs to help feed our family each year.
It's voluntary simplicity, the homestead edition. Choosing family over farm.
I think it's the best decision we could have made. But it certainly wasn't the easiest.
Not by miles.
As it turns out this farming thing doesn't even get easy when you choose for it to end.
Please be gentle and kind with your comments today, friends. This is very tender for me right now. Thank you for understanding.