Saturday, May 4, 2013

Onward and Forward

There is a time for everything. Everything. I'm sometimes the type who wants to push the boundaries on that; want to do or have things when the time isn't right. I'd like to think that I've gotten a little better about that over the last year or so, but I could be wrong. As of this week though, I've come to realize that it is time for a major change. It is time.

By this point, you're probably wondering what's up. Dear readers, I hope you're sitting down. Because I've got an explosive announcement to make...

I'm selling off my goat herd. Completely. One hundred percent. This girl is done.

I thought about selling out two months ago, when I was having so much trouble with them all. But instead decided I should perhaps try a last ditch attempt at righting the situation by simply switching breeds. I'm terrified of regret in life. I didn't want to completely sell out at that time, because I was afraid I would regret my decision. But I can't avoid the glaring fact anymore that goats are not working for me. I'm in the wrong area for this. My time with goats needs to end for a spell and I need a rest. No matter what I do, or how I plan, the goats are always a monkey wrench in things. This land, this area, is not meant for goats; it's meant for cattle, sheep, and hogs. I've tried for six years to force goats into this; force them into a mold that they don't fit, and I can't do it any longer. It's too wet here to raise goats on pasture. Everyone around here struggles with hoof rot, pneumonia, and liver fluke worms. It just comes with the territory of getting 45 to 50 inches of rain each year.

Then there's also the fact that one really shouldn't "pasture" goats... They can digest the early, green spring grasses, but once that grass turns brown it's over. The goats can't digest that lignin and they get very little, if any, nutrition after that. It's the same for grass hay; it's why goats have to have legume hay. In my case, for the pasture, all I have is open land. Oh I've got stands of blackerries, sure, but I sure ain't letting my dairy goats in those stands to scratch their udders up and make their milk strong tasting! Nope. Not doing it. Shelter is also a factor. When you're pasturing sheep or cows, you can pretty much leave them out in all but the worst of weather (in bad weather you'll want to provide something) and they do just fine. They'll keep grazing away in the drizzling rain or what-have-you. With goats, you're suddenly looking at needing a portable shelter to lug around. -_- There goes all simplicity to life... Do we even want to mention the type of fencing and the electric charge needed to keep goats in?? I got really spoiled with my cows; one strand will do 'em. The sheep are content/dumb enough that I can get by with 2-3 strands.

Marketing wise, I lost all my goat milk customers. Gone. They all found suppliers closer to their homes, or cheaper alternatives. Meanwhile my cow milk customers have staunchly refused to leave, even though I've told them I don't know when I'll be getting another cow. I'm still getting more requests for cow milk, too.

Feeding the goats is getting downright ridiculous too. Prices are inching up to $17 and $19 for a bale of dairy goat-quality hay, and the goats waste 40% to 60% percent of that!! World's most expensive bedding!! Gaah!

I'm also having a tough time keeping their mineral levels up. :-/ Of all livestock, goats are the hardest to maintain where minerals are concerned. And when you live in a damp area like this, natural minerals are usually leached deep into an unobtainable level in the ground. This isn't so bad when you're dealing with cattle, sheep, or hogs since they don't require as much, but for goats it's frustrating! I'm feeding them free choice minerals but it's still just barely enough!

I'm frustrated and tired... I need a break. I've already begun getting the word out that my last five goats (yes, even Lyric) are up for sale/trade (hoping maybe someone will want a good starter herd and will trade a dairy cow for them). I don't know how permanent of a decision this is, but I need some time. Maybe when the dust settles, and the farm is in a more stable position I will look into getting goats again. But right now I need to focus on what WILL work on this land, which is cattle, sheep, and hogs.

But lest you worry about all goat stories coming to an end, let me put your mind at ease. ;) For while I'm selling off my own goats, I'm still boarding a friend's four for the whole of 2013. I know one of those goats is pregnant, but I'm not sure about two of the others... We'll see. You might say I'm easing my way into a "no-goats" lifestyle. Sell off my five right now, then when my friend's four goats leave we'll see how I feel and where I stand on the matter. Maybe by the time they leave things will be settled here, or I'll have decided to try one more time? Who knows. In the end though, I feels it's best to let my goats go. They deserve to be somewhere better, where it's a bit drier, and they have the right kind of forage available.

And you know something else? I'm surprisingly happy about this new twist of events. I've been doing goats for six years, and the idea of taking a break is an invigorating relief. There can only be new adventures ahead. New stories, new ideas, and the fun of watching it all come together.

Onward and forward.


nancy said...

Good for you being flexible. There's no point trying something, realizing it didn't work and staying with it. You'll probably have a much better life without the wasted time, $$$ and frustration.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to hear your selling all your goats! (They're my personal favorite farm-animals, next to the horse) :D But you're right about one thing, goats don't do so well in open pasture. :) It's good that you're able to move on!

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was my comment, btw! :D

~Krista. M. V.

Rachel Abrams said...

oh no! I love this blog! And I love you! You must keep moving forward even if that means selling the goats. You loved (and still seem to) them full on, and there is no other way to live, in my opinion. You will be great in the future! The future is now and you. are. wonderful! One step at a time and before you know it, a rich, full life has been experienced. You were meant to have the goats, and you are thr right person to make sure they move on as well, to the other 'right' people. You loved them, and so you let them go. more Life! ;)