Livestock, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

Harsh Reality

My morning goat alarm went off precisely at six, just as the sun began to peek over the horizon.  It was time for milking.  Yet Hush’s imperious call was tinged with sadness today.  Her doeling went to a new home yesterday, in trade for the young buck that is to be our new herd sire.  Hush’s plaintive calls almost sound like sobs.  While the other kids, including her other doeling, are now penned up in the paddock where she can see and even touch noses with them, she continues to call for the one missing.

While it’s sad to hear right now, I know the calling will end by tomorrow or the next day.  It may be tempting to apply human emotions to this situation, but Hush is a goat.  Yes, she realizes her baby is missing and she is calling to try and find her.  But she will sustain no lasting emotional damage from the separation.  In fact, in a few months she would have ceased to consider the kid her baby and would have looked upon her as a rival for food and position in the herd.  The hormones in her body that help her produce the wonderful, creamy milk we love so much, also create a sense of attachment.  As the one who milks her, I will soon take the place of the baby.

Had Hush been here when she first kidded, I would have taken the babies a day or two after they were born.  This seems to be easier on both mother and kids.  The attachment hormones aren’t so strong and there is no force of habit to make the separation more difficult.  In just a few weeks, the kids can go back in the pen with their mother and she won’t recognize them as hers.  It is also possible to leave them with her until she weans them, but Hush has a purpose here and that is milk production for the house.  This morning’s milking, I got almost a quart and a half.  I was lucky to get a pint of milk when the doeling was nursing which means she was tucking away a half gallon of milk a day, way more than she needed.  Unfortunately, the economics of a farm don’t allow one to keep animals in an unproductive way.  Our animals are not pets and must serve the purpose for which we keep them.

So Hush must mourn…..

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