ANZ's Farms

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Truth, the Whole Truth ...

... and nothing but the truth. That's what an urban homesteading blog should be about. Until now, most of the posts have highlighted the good days, the fun things, the joys of homesteading. Today I want to be real with you and say the first 24 hours after the birthing were enough to make even the hardiest of souls question their sanity. If not for a love of the lifestyle, my animals and the out-of-doors, I might have day dreamed about the benefits of townhouse living. But then, with new kids on the ground and does butting heads, who has time to daydream?!

There is a reason the books say bucks should be penned separately from does. Charly was an absolute nuisance and, more to point, a hazard to himself and others. Not only did the gate not keep him out of the shed, the rope did not keep him from jumping the fence. Although he is only knee-high, he is strong, much stronger than I am. Apparently the smells of a doe giving birth are reminiscent of those of a doe in heat. You get my drift.

There is a good reason, although I'm still not sure why, a birthing doe should be separated from the herd. My does have "discussed" who is herd queen a couple of times over the last year. Their discussions involve some head butting and a little heavy breathing. But nothing is sadder than watching an ordinarily sweet doe (drained by giving birth) and a full-term herd queen (who can hardly walk much less tussle) bleeding from the head and heaving for breath in a fight-to-the-death struggle for who gets the goat shed. I'm not sure why this happened. The books say another doe present at birth can be helpful. I don't know if the herd queen giving birth first would have averted the insurgence in the first place. Whatever the reason, both does were not co-existing peacefully in a place both needed to be.

I let it go on for awhile, thinking this was the natural course of goat social order. My loving husband reminds me I must learn to be a farmer, not a keeper of farm pets. He's right, I know it, so I let the discussion and bleeding heads ensue … while the new kids were in the shed, totally ignored by their previously doting mom, and Charly was at the other end of the rope in my hand, lunging to participate in the fray. I watched and waited. When I was certain the outcome would be not be decided before both suffered harm, I stepped in and separated them. And that took some doing. How exhausting, emotionally and physically.

Now, it's a new day and I am looking back. Peace reigns again and everyone is content where they are ... Little One in the outbuilding with her cute black wobbly babies, Mamma in the goat shed preparing for her time, the alpha buck on top of the straw bale near his herd queen contentedly chewing his cud, and me at the keyboard putting into words all that has happened. I've had a good night's sleep and the rain has passed. What are the lessons here?
1. every job has its ups and downs. Loving what you do helps you get through the tough times.
2. homesteading is different than farming. What works on a rural farm may not work on an urban homestead, and vice versa. The goat books I have were written by farmers. I need a goat book written by an urban homesteader. Maybe I need to write it.
3. experience is the best teacher. Learn from it.

Since every post needs a picture, here is one with two special people – Farmer Hendricks, sporting his new hog washers (he calls them bib overalls. He ain’t from the south!) and my wonderful neighbor and birth videographer Wilma.

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