Bye, Bye Goats
After one month of keeping goats, I decided to put them up for sale. A family came and purchased them yesterday and I’m sure that they will give the goats a good home. There were many reasons that I wanted goats, and many reasons that prompted me to let them go.
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I loved having fresh milk every day. That was the biggest reason for buying goats and the hardest thing to let go of when the goats left our homestead. However, there were many trade offs. Here are the reasons that I decided that goats don’t fit into my current situation…
- Goats need proper fencing. Upgrading our pasture fence was going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.
- Goats need good quality hay. We don’t own a hay field and I was having trouble finding good hay for sale.
- Goats need a lot of care and proper feed, minerals, clean water, and housing. I managed to get all of these things pretty well taken care of, but their stall needed improvements, such as a concrete floor, a better hay rack, and a more secure door. I knew that I could cheap out on some of these things, but it would take work and time to get things fixed up for them.
- Goats are curious, intelligent, and quite stubborn. I really started to feel like I had a little herd of dogs in our barn and it was very difficult to butcher the buckling that had health issues. There was another buckling that would need to be butchered in a month or so, and I wasn’t looking forward to that.
- Did I mention that goats are stubborn?
- I think the biggest limitation for me is the time and energy needed to train the goats, upgrade their housing and fencing, and their daily care. With the gardening season getting underway and all of my other homesteading and writing commitments, I was starting to feel overwhelmed with the work load. There were quite a few things going undone around our homestead, so I knew I needed to make some decisions about what was most important to me.
Am I a Homesteading Failure?
I really felt like a failure when I admitted to myself that the goats needed to go. After all, I’ve wanted goats for a long time and they were starting to produce all the milk that our family needed. It was wonderful to go out to their stall in the morning and come in the house with a quart of milk! I was actually starting to get used to their stubborn nature and they seemed to think I was a part of their herd.
Selling them means that I need to go back to buying milk, yogurt, and all of our cheese. I feel more dependent on the grocery store. I feel less self sufficient. Was this decision a homesteading fail?
Perhaps I did fail in some ways. I feel like I failed the goats. As they were loaded into their new family’s suburban, they gave me a look of disbelief and dismay (I might have imagined this part). I remind myself that the gentleman I bought them from was going to take them to the slaughterhouse if I hadn’t bought them. So I know that they are better off than if I hadn’t brought them home.
I also feel like I failed to reduce our purchase of plastic containers for yogurt, milk, and cheese. If I am able to, I’ll return to purchasing raw milk from a family farm. That will reduce our plastic consumption, but will increase our fuel expenditures. Every other week I was making a one hour trip to purchase milk. It doesn’t feel sustainable.
In the end I need to keep in mind the limitations of my time, energy, and budget. If my husband and I are able to move to a larger homestead where we can grow more feed for our animals, we might be able to keep goats again. But if we do, I’ll be sure to have everything in order and do my research before I bring our new additions home.
I try to remind myself that I have learned a lot about goats and their care, plus I think I’ve learned something about what I am capable of handling. So, in the end, I try to tell myself that I really didn’t fail, I just learned something the hard way. It seems to be the only way I learn anything!
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