There are times when it seems that the homesteading life is simply a series of meetings and partings. Young ones are born, grow, and ultimately fulfill their purpose….whether to feed us or serve someone else. This is the primary difference between having livestock and having pets.
Since our primary goal is to make the most use of our small space in an effort to be as self reliant as possible, we simply cannot afford to keep animals that are not useful in some way. Even the number of useful animals must be limited. We do not have 2 milking does as we don’t use enough milk to justify the extra cost in time and feed. Every element of Half-Pint Homestead has multiple uses. The goats eat our weeds and provide us with milk for home use, income from milk and offspring sales, and manure for the compost pile.
I often joke that our pony is a luxury, but even he is useful in that he cleans up the hay that would ordinarily be wasted and turns it into hot manure, making our compost break down much more quickly than it would with just goat and rabbit manure alone. He serves as company to the goats, especially when one doe is out being bred for next year’s crop of milk and kids. He can even provide some recreation – a precious thing on a homestead which can easily become “all work and no play” if one isn’t careful.
While a pony in general adds value to our homestead, we discovered that Jack in particular does not fulfill this niche to the fullest. He spent some time at the trainer’s last week to discover whether he could be trained to pull a cart. It was the opinion of the Amish trainer that he would take a lot of time to learn to do this and would not likely ever really accept it. This was definitely a disappointment and required me to make a decision about Jack’s future here. After much soul searching, I decided that having a pony that would pull a cart is really important to me. I will never be completely contented with Jack, even though he is useful in other ways. It is time to say goodbye to Jack and look for a pony that is more suited to his purpose.
With this goodbye, there will also be a hello.