The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Feb
28

I wrote this post earlier this week, and it took me this long to get the guts to publish it. Maybe I’m making that backbone, after all.


One surprisingly warm day last week, I took some hay up to the house, set it near the back porch, and brought the goats up. One by one, I took them, sat on the back porch stoop, and trimmed their hooves. I’ve never trimmed the goats’ hooves by myself before. I’ve always had a helper. Someone to hold while I trimmed. I could have waited until Morgan came home from school so she could help, but I was proving something to myself. It was as if I needed one more proof that I was making the right decision about the direction of my farm. In a way, it was a silly test. If I could do it that day, surely I could have always done it. And yet I haven’t. So I made myself do it–all by myself. And then I said goodbye to some of the goats–people were, in fact, already on their way to get them. I told you it was a silly test. The decision had been made. It was really more of a validation.

I started farming six years ago with an incubator full of chicken eggs from my cousin’s neighbor. I didn’t know the difference between hay and straw. I dreamed of an Old McDonald’s-style barnyard full of animals, and I made that dream come true. Sometimes I was criticized for adding this or that new form of livestock, but I loved them and took care of them in my hopeful, hapless way. And learned. I added new animals on whims, or simply because someone offered me a free one. (I always say no to free animals now. No, no, and did I mention no?) It was fun! And made for great stories, cute photographs, and many an adventure. I don’t regret a second, and I have loved every single animal I’ve ever had on my farm. But animals cost money (even if they’re free) in feed, hay, medications, and time. And unless you’re independently wealthy, eventually there comes a turning point where you have to decide what you’re doing, and why.

In a way, Dumplin was that turning point. I wanted to keep her. And, for once, I thought long and hard. She’s a cow, and as such, a very large animal. She is half Limousin, and would make an awesome start to a little beef herd. For somebody. NOT ME. And I sold her to my neighbor, who is going to do just that with her. It was, perhaps, the first realistic decision I’ve ever made about my farm. Or at least the first decision made with a thorough self-examination of my capabilities rather than my fantasies. I’m a single woman managing a farm, and I’m still learning. I need to limit large animals to what I can handle on my own. Though, in a subsequent turn of events, I’ve been talking to my neighbor about some things we can do together with the cows, putting a gate between our fields and running the cows through the pastures, his and mine. He needs space to store hay, and I’ve offered him space in my barn. I’m also providing the gate, since I have a spare one, and since he’s never had a cow before, teaching him what I’ve learned about managing them. In return for sharing my pastures, experience, and barn space, I’ll have someone to help me haul hay, get the bull, and so on. I can handle Glory Bee on my own, but a mutual endeavor that benefits everyone is even better. And finally I don’t need a favor–I can provide my share of the equation.

Glory Bee is the most valuable animal on my farm. She provides milk–for my personal use as well as for workshops–and she gives me a calf every year whose sale not only pays for her hay, but pays for the hay for other animals on the farm. I’m committed to my milk cow, and always have been. That core dedication to my cow made it clear to me, along with a reflection on my abilities, that I need to keep Glory Bee, but sell her calf every year. I’m not prepared at this time to handle a herd of large animals. Selling her calf every year not only provides that money for hay, but it allows me to focus on caring for Glory Bee as my one and only cow and queen who is the cornerstone of this farm.

I’ve dabbled in donkeys. Donkeys are surely the most whimsical of my whim animals. I have no time or inclination to train them to pull a cart or carry packs. (I’m sure they’re very handy for that, but I just have no desire in that direction.) Their only other purpose would be to breed, providing a baby donkey to sell every year and a half. (Donkeys are pregnant for 11 months, so it’s a long gestation, then a wait to re-breed and sell the weaned baby.) This works best if you want to be a donkey farm. There are certainly successful farmers with donkeys. But I don’t want to be a donkey farm. And to be honest, as much as I love Poky, she’s not a super nice donkey. But we did love the pieces out of Jack, and I would have never separated them. When Jack died last fall, the question of Poky tumbled in with other questions I struggled with along with Dumplin. Either I could take Poky somewhere to be bred as needed, or I could bring home a new jack. Jack was never able to “do the deed” with Poky, due to his crooked problem. (We’ve been over that!) Morgan lobbied for a baby donkey! So cute! I reminded Morgan that in 11 months, she wasn’t going to be here! And I struggled for months pondering Poky’s future.

One day not too long ago, I had Poky in the barnyard temporarily, and she kicked a baby goat in the head. Poky has been with the goats many times, and at one point was kept with them full-time. Over time, I’ve noticed a growing impatience or irritation that she has with the goats, and I’ve let her be around them less and less. Still, I was shocked at that event. I’ve written about learning to handle a gun and shoot, and about hunting and self-protection, but hunting and self-protection aren’t the only reasons I wanted to become comfortable with a gun. On a farm with a lot of animals, there’s almost sure to come a day when you have to put one down. In the past, this has always meant finding A MAN to do the dirty job. The baby goat was hurt beyond repair, and suffering. I don’t like it when animals are suffering and have to wait for me to find A MAN. And that didn’t happen this time. I went to the house, got a gun, went back to the barn, and did the worst of all dirty jobs by myself.

And then I sold Poky to a good home where they have other donkeys and no goats. Poky will finally be a mother–and she is now at a farm where she can be the focus rather than a sideline. I’ve tried, very hard, to consider the best interests of my animals as part of each decision, as well as the interests of my farm. Poky belongs somewhere, but not here.

Last year, I brought on some new sheep. I bought a ram and two new ewes. I contemplated naming them–and never did. I think from the beginning I questioned that decision. I was already changing as a farmer, and didn’t quite realize it. I was still making “I can do it all!” decisions, but there was something deeper down that stopped me from naming them. And I knew very soon that it was just too much for me. A flock of sheep AND a herd of goats is a lot for one person, alone, who also has a cow and a career. I love sheep, always have, but as the year went by, and as I came to that Dumplin decision, I realized the sheep were also a decision waiting in the wings.

Which brings me back to goats. Anyone who has read this website over the years knows how much I love goats. While the cornerstone of this farm in so many ways is in my milk cow, the heart is in my love of goats. Goats are smart, playful, and incredibly adorable. I love goats. I knew it was time to make a decision between sheep and goats, and when put to myself that way, there was no competition in my heart. It was goats. And yet–

There is a way to successfully do a herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. (See here. Shelley does it right.) Nigerian Dwarf goats are mini-milkers, and the best way to make money raising Nigerians is to focus on the milk production in your lines. I’m not focused on milking goats, and haven’t really been focused on it since I milked Clover way back when in 2008. I have a milk cow, and I’m dedicated to my milk cow. I don’t have the time or energy to focus on milk production to raise marketable Nigerians that will earn their keep. I’ve also raised Fainters, which is a meat breed, but not marketable as a meat breed. If people want a goat to butcher, they don’t say, hey, I want to buy a fainting goat and butcher it. Fainters are a little smaller than standard-size meat goats. There’s not that much meat on them. They’re not good milkers–they aren’t milk goats. What they are…. They’re semi-exotic novelty goats. They’re wonderful. I’ve loved my Fainters. They are, however, largely a “hobby farm” goat. With Fainters, I’m completely cut out of the meat market and the 4-H market.

Nutmeg. I don’t even want to talk about Nutmeg. But I will, briefly. Because it hurts to write about her, just like Clover. Man, goats will break your heart. I had her stalled, sure she was going to have babies soon. It was a sub-zero night several weeks ago. I checked on her before I went to bed. It didn’t look like she was going to do anything. She was gone in the morning. She hadn’t been the same since she had triplets last year. She was small, even for a Nigerian. Rotund! But small–short. I probably shouldn’t have let her breed again. Something went wrong, and I didn’t get babies, either, FYI. And the loss kicked me in the pants to make the decision I’d been turning over in my head since the fall.

And so I cried some more, made the decision between sheep and goats, made the decision about what goats, and I sold the sheep except for Annabelle and Crazy–who I’ll keep forever for no good reason other than love. And then I sold the Fainters. AND I CRIED. I sold them to a very good home where they have other Fainters and keep them as pets. (I did explain to them in detail about Sprite’s lack of mothering ability, just in case they ever decide to breed her.) I didn’t cry about Poky or the sheep. But I cried over the Fainters, especially Sprite and Fanta. And I also knew I was making the right decision. I wasn’t willing to breed them anymore–the babies have been hard to sell, and neither of them has been a good mother. Most farmers would have “culled” them a long time ago. I have to limit the “pets” I keep, because they eat hay. They’ve gone to a home where they will BE pets.

Before they left, I sat everybody down with me on that back porch stoop and trimmed their hooves all alone, proving something to myself because part of the decision to sell the goats I had was a decision to buy more. Because I love goats.

In about six weeks, I’ll have five Boer doelings and a Boer buckling. Along with Annabelle and Crazy, I kept Maia and the wethers–Dr. Pepper and Goat Burger. That’s right. Goat Burger finally found a job. I’ll have to keep the Boer buck separated from Maia, so I’ll need at least one wether with him. I won’t let Maia breed to a Boer. AND YOU KNOW MAIA ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE. I also still have my horses, by the way. Along with the dogs, cats, chickens, and one mean old goose. But the focus now is divided only in two–the goats and Glory Bee. Instead of in a multiplicity of directions. It wasn’t sustainable to be that scattered, and some of you probably could see that coming. These decisions were hard, and I struggled to make the best ones both for my farm and for the animals.

Boer goats are marketable here, and that is what I need in order to continue as a farm. If you don’t know what Boer goats look like, you can see some photos here. They’re the floppy-eared goats. Very cute. A new adventure in my neverending love of goats–and this time, a marketable one that can help to support this farm, along with Glory Bee. These were decisions not made on whims or fantasies, but with long consideration and the experience of these past six years–and a knowledge of what I can handle and where my heart lies not to mention a little bit of business sense for once.

This is a farm growing up. It doesn’t come without tears.

And then there’s the laughter. I could have called this post The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but I prefer to think there’s still a lot of beautiful, and streamlining the farm will allow me to focus more on that beauty.
IMG_1481
Goat Burger, Dr. Pepper, and Maia.

This is still what’s going on at my back door. Because some things never change.

P.S. I’ve dreaded writing this post. But I don’t live my life to write about it. I write about the life I live. I know many of you love my animals as much as I do. I hope you understand.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 28, 2014  

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  1. 2-28
    3:23
    pm

    You are very brave and I know how hard your decisions were. We have that problem here…too many directions…alpacas, sheep, chickens, cats, dogs…too many directions for folks in their 70s. But all the animals have been named (bad choice), and trimming down the herd(s) is proving more difficult than we had anticipated. But you have given me courage…thank you. :)

  2. 2-28
    3:35
    pm

    OH Suzanne. I applaud your bravery and tenacity. You’ve thought long and hard about what is best for your animals and your life, and you have made the best decision for your animals and your life. There’s no reason to dread what you have written. I for one am very grateful for your generosity in sharing your life and all it’s ups and downs. That in itself is a bravery beyond what most can claim. You’ve done what you think is best and I salute you. You’re smart, brave, a most talented writer, and I do salute you.

    Having said all that, I am sorry for your tears over your beloved Fainters. Hugs to you!

  3. 2-28
    3:37
    pm

    I can really relate to this! There is no such thing as a free animal, that’s for sure. At one time I had 100 chickens and 19 goats. Then I thought, why am I doing this? We only go through about a dozen eggs every two weeks and I can get them from a friend, and I had so much milk every day I was making cheese just to empty out the gallon jars to use for that day. Sold all the chickens, seriously downsized my goat herd, and then two years later downsized it again. Now I only have two does and two bucks. And plenty of milk still. I raise mini-alpines, hate milking those little Nigerians and they eat so much less feed than the full sized breeds

  4. 2-28
    3:48
    pm

    Bless your heart. :hug: A farmers got to do, what a farmers got to do…make the best decisions for you as well as your animals.

  5. 2-28
    3:55
    pm

    Thank you for putting into words what single women who own farms need to do in order to survive and live the life they choose. I too am learning to not be so squishy when it comes to the animals and am finding strength I didn’t know I had. Personally, I appreciate these posts about the realities of being a single woman who owns a farm. And I WILL deal with that old tom turkey in the yard that just will not die of natural causes!

    And I can’t wait for your new book. Loved, loved Chickens in the Road.

  6. 2-28
    3:57
    pm

    I understand, and you have my utmost respect (not that you asked for it) for making the grown-up decisions. That homegrown backbone? You’ve got it, woman! (And no, it’s never easy.)

  7. 2-28
    3:59
    pm

    Anyone who has had livestock would understand the difficult decisions you’ve just made. One needs to decide if they have a hobby farm or a working farm. It is much too expensive for most people to have hobby farms now days. We made the decision years ago to sell all of our goats…it was extremely difficult, because, like you, we loved our goats. But, we both had full-time jobs and the milking twice a day of 9 goats and feeding babies, and taking care of the milk just became too much. We kept our beef cows..we could sell calves and also butcher for our own meat. Eventually, we sold everything so we could move into TOWN and a retirement community. Now we can travel without worrying about our home. We have never regretted those almost thirty years raising animals…it was hard work but rewarding to the soul.

  8. 2-28
    3:59
    pm

    Why would you dread writing about this? You have thought long and hard about all of this and you have made choices that are the best for YOU right now. I think everything you’ve done is great. Sounds like all the animals you’ve sold went to fantastic new homes and they will be loved and cared for for the rest of their lives. Good for you!

    This is something I have been pondering as well. So thanks for sharing what all you have been up to. And congratulations for it! Here’s to great success with your new goat venture!

  9. 2-28
    4:00
    pm

    Congratulations on your next step! It is never easy, just like a human’s teen years. Decisions are made, and consequences are felt, and eventually you refine yourself into who you are supposed to be. In my opinion, that process should never stop. So good for you for making the difficult decisions, and sticking by them! Your farm is different now, but it’s still yours, and still full of love and adventure.

  10. 2-28
    4:01
    pm

    I understand completely and have full appreciation of what you are going through. Because as you go through the trials and tribulations, it gives me knowledge and understanding and incentive.

    I sobbed uncontrollably over Clover and Minibelle. I still have her picture on my wall from the Kickstarter project. As the years progressed and those losses continued, it got easier and easier to understand. I did, however, shed a couple of tears over BP. Mostly because I knew I’d miss the stories. She had a long life and you made her later years paradise for her.

    I’m slowly turning our land into a “farm” but not like you’d think. We got the chickens first and they are a joy. I just started a worm farm, so that we can use the “black gold” in our garden, fish with them and use them as chicken treats. I’ve placed my order for a package of bees with a queen and I am going to become a beekeeper. My life will be complete when I can have a couple of goats (just because) and raise a beef cow every year. That will come later, we’ve only been here 6 months!

    Anyway, I never, in a million years would have ever ever considered doing any of this, if it wasn’t for you.

    Thank you for the life experiences.

  11. 2-28
    4:07
    pm

    You have made the right decision, Suzanne. I know it must have been very hard. I am glad you wrote about it because I have been wondering what you were going to do about all the animals, but didn’t want to ask.
    And, also, you are very brave to take care of the hurt goat by yourself. As you have mentioned in the past, you are a real farmer now! We are all very proud of you.
    Good luck with the Boer goats. They are very cute!

  12. 2-28
    4:09
    pm

    outbackfarm (Sherrill)–the reason I dreaded writing it is because I know many of you grow attached to these animals I write about. I hate to be the bearer of bad news! (Selling longtime farm friends.) I really appreciate the understanding.

  13. 2-28
    4:09
    pm

    Quite reasonable, I’d say.

  14. 2-28
    4:14
    pm

    Suzanne- I’ve been lurking around for a quite a while. I can’t remember when I started reading your blog but I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed it. I always wanted to be a farm girl. Lived next to one when I was growing up. I’m living vicariously through you! I see how hard all those decisions were for you – and I cried a few tears myself over Clover, and the little banty hen and others. I’m so glad you’re here, writing about your life. I enjoyed your book so much I’ll probably read it more than once (which is really saying something for me ;))
    Anyway, I love that you’ve found your focus. I’ll look forward to reading about your continuing adventure in the future and imagining myself there.

  15. 2-28
    4:16
    pm

    We have owned a milk delivery business for 35 years. Originally it was owned alongside with my inlaws.
    There were tough times when business decisions were made on emotions. So when you step back and look at your farm as a business, you have to be rational. And make decisions that keep you on track financially. It’s really hard when you’re an emotionally driven person. But I give you a lot of credit for getting the “backbone” to do it. Kudos to you for having some kind of business plan and figuring out how to get there. There’s an old saying,” if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

  16. 2-28
    4:18
    pm

    I understand your struggle. I’ve been there with an animal that was suffering. Being responsible and compassionate hurts like heck some days.

    Your farm decisions are good. I still have too many big pets. I will work on that homemade backbone.
    :moo:

  17. 2-28
    4:36
    pm

    Suzanne, I certainly respect the decisions you have to make running your farm. Wishing you the very best as you move forward in your endeavors. Farming is not for sissies! Decisions must be made. :chicken:

  18. 2-28
    5:04
    pm

    The life of a farmer is filled with such decisions. I have watched your evolution to a “real” farmer with much delight. I appreciate that you are willing to share details that many would simply bury. In the end you never mistreated an animal and as you have evolved your idea of your farm has also evolved.

  19. 2-28
    5:45
    pm

    I’m so sorry you’ve had the turmoil and heartache and tears and hard decisions, and while I am sad as well to hear about so many of the animals leaving your farm, I can understand completely. I grew up on a farm so I know about how attached you can get to the animals but also how impractical it can be to keep too many that don’t “earn their keep” I did manage to convince my family to let me keep my one pet goat, but everything else had to have a purpose or away it went. It sounds like you’ve done a fabulous job of finding good homes for all the ones who moved on.

    I did love all the stories of the wild collection of animals you had, but hopefully as you are streamlining your operation that just means you’ll have more time to share more stories of the ones that are still around!

  20. 2-28
    6:06
    pm

    I congratulate you Suzanne. You have finally become a farmer. A real farmer who knows what needs to be done and does it. I have always been hoping and praying for you that the time would cone when you could make those decisions. Farming is hard,saying goodby to beloved animals is hard,making culling decisions is hard, but that’s what a good farmer does. Again congratulations! You have earned the name of a real farmer!(I thought you were going to say you got your gun and shot Pokey). Glad that didn’t happen.

  21. 2-28
    6:07
    pm

    It sounds as if you’ve made very intelligent, responsible decisions about how to handle your menagerie. So very sorry to hear about the baby goat, and Nutmeg. That’s always the downside of loving your animals – you know in most cases you will outlast them.

    I think that going in so many different directions with all the different animals was a good thing for you. It taught you about which ones were a good fit for you, which ones you most enjoyed living and working with. How else would you really find that out? You now know you are focusing on what makes the most sense for you.

    And, you know, you should never make decisions based on what your readers might think. This is YOUR life, after all. And we are simply blessed that you are willing to share some of it with us. :hug:

  22. 2-28
    6:29
    pm

    Yes, I was expecting some streamlining. The price of feed and the work involve sometimes mean we have to choose sensible things on the farm.

    Congratulations.

    I think this will greatly reduce your work load and stress level and that is a good thing!

  23. 2-28
    6:38
    pm

    You don’t mention Cookie Doe. Did I miss a bad news post about her?

  24. 2-28
    6:44
    pm

    Ditto for me on folk woman’s post . I have a lump in my throat for Suzanne’s tough decisions, and a grateful feeling that she is a part of our world.

  25. 2-28
    6:46
    pm

    Cookie Doe was a while back……..last year……… Yes, she didn’t make it.

  26. 2-28
    6:47
    pm

    Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. You did what is right for you and your animals. I admire you and what you have done. Good luck

  27. 2-28
    7:28
    pm

    Suzanne, I don’t comment very often but I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a good while now. I admire you for having the guts to pursue your dream. That’s one mighty fine backbone you’ve grown there, girl! Thanks for sharing the good, the bad and the beautiful. All the best to you and yours!

  28. 2-28
    8:29
    pm

    I feel a need to share this little “jewel’ with you – just food for thought ~~~~~

    When God pushes you to the edge of difficulty,
    Trust Him fully; Because two things can happen;
    Either he’ll catch you when you fall;
    or He will teach you to fly.

  29. 2-28
    9:01
    pm

    Wasn’t there a Mr. Pibb?

  30. 2-28
    9:42
    pm

    Good for you! You are such a strong farmer! I can’t imagine how hard it was to make these decisions. I think you’ve made the right ones, as difficult as they were to make. If you aren’t going to breed Maia, would it be weird to have her spade? Would it be that different from having a female dog spade? Just something off the wall to think about.

    You did good girl.

  31. 2-28
    9:51
    pm

    My heart to you for sure. Annie B, I feel exactly the same way and could not have said it better. I’ve had to learn the everything has a purpose on the farm lesson and it is very tough to decide which takes care of you the best. I am proud of you for taking care of you— which will in turn take care of all. Hugs!

  32. 2-28
    10:24
    pm

    We just did the same thing downsizing. For the first time in 20 years we are down to 3 horses 2 donkeys and our dogs. Over the years we have raised goats, sheep, camels, zebras,and had a petting zoo that traveled. We have had milk cows and beef cows. We also have full time jobs so its been a challenge, this year we have rehomed down to the few we have now we will take a year off and enjoy camping and horseback riding and mounted shooting riding. I have cried over a many through selling and tragic happenings. I know how you feel we just sold 11 horses but I know I raised good ones so the new owners will enjoy them, maybe that was my job. by the way watch out for your Boers to get their head stuck in the fences, over and over again. :sheep:

    Jill

  33. 2-28
    11:08
    pm

    Farming comes with many tough decisions and the more we grow the easier it is to see what is really practical. We are human and our hearts can get very attached to animals. I feel your pain, but also an so happy for you to have come to a decision that sounds like it will be a good one for you.

    I love my Boer goats and I’m sure you will too. I can’t wait to read all about them.

  34. 3-1
    12:20
    am

    It takes more than putting on a pair of chore boots to make a farmer. You started out as a hobbyist, but you’ve grown into a farmer, doing the tough jobs and making the tough decisions. You’ve had a hard year, and you’ve handled it and come through it stronger. You’ve grown into those chore boots. You’ve earned the right to feel proud of yourself.

    But one thing which complicates your life more than most farmers is that they don’t have an army of armchair farm critics critiquing, judging, and commenting on their every move, the down side to your large number of fans and supporters. You just keep on keepin’ it real; that’s when you’re at your best.

    It’s a pleasure to watch you grow and bloom.

  35. 3-1
    12:50
    am

    Pokey needed a new home, intolerance of the baby goats is not acceptable. Glad you were able to find her a good home along with all of the other animals. Streamlining your farm is a necessity for survival Yours and your animals.

    But losing Nutmeg, I know that is heartbreaking. :hug:

  36. 3-1
    5:42
    am

    I will miss Poky, Sprite and Fanta, but I know you made the right decision xx. I’m so sorry to hear about Nutmeg too :( It’s hard to read this and I imagine how much harder it would have been for you to actually do, but it’s right for you and your farm, and your animals. xx

  37. 3-1
    7:17
    am

    Unless someone is very rich, a farm IS a business and not a hobby, event he farms they call ‘hobby’ farms. I know this was so hard for you. Not just the writing about it but the selling. It’s like you put on your big girl wellies (work boots) and got to it! I’m so proud of you. You are doing great and we’ll get to read about it for a long time because you are making the right decisions to make your farm even more successful.

  38. 3-1
    7:58
    am

    Once again, Suzanne, you have put on your big farm girl panties and made the tough but right decisions. Bravo.

  39. 3-1
    8:44
    am

    Love the last picture! I can hear the conversation now…
    Woman: Who is responsible for that pile of poop on the back porch?
    Goat Burger: Not me!
    Dr. Pepper: You know I would never do that!
    Maia: The dog did it!
    Dog: Zzzzzz…….

  40. 3-1
    9:03
    am

    So sorry to hear about your baby goat. I know it must have been heart breaking for you. Sometimes things just happen and we have to make hard decisions.

    Suzanne it’s you farm, your animals, and your life. People who are your friends and fans are going to stand behind you, and those that criticize just don’t count. I love reading about your farm life. We have farm animals and it’s not always easy.

  41. 3-1
    11:42
    am

    I’ve been reading C.I.T.R. for a little over a year now. It is interesting to see how you have grown and changed in your chosen life of owning a farm. One thing has been a constant. Your love and care for your farm and animals. Out of that love and caring you have now made the best decisions for you, your farm to continue and the animals you love. I am looking forward to seeing Boer Goats and reading their stories. Glad Goat Burger now has a job and is staying. So sorry about Nutmeg.

  42. 3-1
    12:51
    pm

    Good post. I have tried to be gentle over the years with sage advice about life and farming: Remember these lines????
    There is no such thing as a free animal!!
    If that (old thin)cow(BP) gives you a heifer calf count your blessings!!
    A Horse is a antique farm implement, they should keep some in museums so people can see what they look like.
    You are feeding too much hay/feed/cookies. You have no pasture!!!!!
    No I do not want Casper the dog back.
    Would a free elephant be a good idea?
    Do not name any critter that you are going to send to freezer camp to eat.

    I know you critters have been loved and cared for at your farm petting zoo. Now you can learn that each critter has to have a purpose to pay for its feed. Cousin Mark

  43. 3-1
    12:59
    pm

    Suzanne, I didn’t mean it to sound the way it did. I know what you mean. I did love to come here and see what all your animals were up to. Even though I have sheep and goats and alpacas and chickens and have had a horse and cows, It’s always fun to see what other people’s farm life is like. I sure wish I had known you were selling your Tunis sheep. I would have driven all the way up there to get them. I am right in the middle of lambing time here. Just sat here about an hour ago and held a little 2 day old lamb as he was dying. But I know that’s all a part of life on a farm. And I am going to have to sell some sheep this next fall and I know it’s going to be hard to decide on who is going. I love them all.

    So I am looking forward to seeing your new goat herd soon. Keep the good posts coming! And thank you.

  44. 3-1
    5:04
    pm

    Don’t ever feel bad about doing the responsible and practical thing for you and your farm. We have a hobby farm as well, and it’s so tempting to collect animals because they are all so cute and fun. However, this year we have also had to make some hard decisions to keep our numbers in check. We keep ducks and chickens for eggs, have 2 horses, 4 cats, a gecko and fish. This weekend I am rehoming the gecko and the fish, and last weekend we sold several roosters. It’s a constant balancing act, and a constant labor of love to manage a farm, especially when the animals are pets as well as productive. Your are an inspiration and I look forward to your posts every day.

  45. 3-2
    6:48
    am

    Thank you for the kind words, Suzanne. I think all farms, especially ones with limited labor available, need a focus, be it a particular type of livestock, crop, self-sufficiency, or eco-tourism. To echo what others have said so well, it is your life your farm and your goals and needs. I think you have done a very courageous thing by re-homing the animals that no longer are sustainable and focusing on those that serve your needs. Raising dairy goats that provide all my milk, cheese and fermented dairy products plus the fun of just caring for them does that for me. Congratulations on this new chapter in your life. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  46. 3-2
    8:34
    am

    Thank you, Suzanne for your post on REAL farm life. Most of my life I have dreamed of having my own farm, but in retrospect, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. I have always considered myself to be a strong woman, but I’m not near as strong as you. I wouldn’t have been able to make some of the decisions you have had to make, especially when it comes to the animals. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t be afraid to write about it. We, your followers, are here to laugh with you, to cry with you, and to give you the moral support you need when times are tough.

    I almost forgot…Batten down the hatches! Here we go again! :pawprint:

  47. 3-2
    9:29
    am

    I have always (I am 71 y/o) considered myself a woman who almost always accomplishes what she sets out to do (riding motorcycles, flying,beating cancer twice, etc). But I know in the deep recesses of my heart I would not, could not, accomplish what you have done. My deepest and most sincere congratulations.
    Helen Reddy’s song “I am Woman, hear me roar” comes to mind.

  48. 3-2
    12:24
    pm

    Suzanne, You have learned well(college of hard knocks). So proud of you. Can’t wait to meet all the new animals,but I will always miss and love all of the departed ones. I call them the ones I grew up with. Good Luck.

  49. 3-2
    7:13
    pm

    I was so afraid of what I was going to read, I scrolled to the end of each paragraph and read it completely before scrolling further. I too thought you shot Poky! :bug-eyed: But, I’m a hobby farmer and a wuss at that. :yes: I am so sorry about your losses but happy for your re-homings. I have been battling with myself not to start incubating the emu eggs that my girl Loca has been laying. I am in constant flux as to where I want my chicken breeding to go. My two donkeys provide predator control for my two fainting goats. For now they all stay until I can no longer take care of them. But, they all eat, and man, do they ever eat!

    As always I admire your courage and commitment to being a successful farmer. I love that you are teaching a neighbor about raising cows! Who would have thought that so many year’s back?

    Keep doing what you do and sharing it with your fans.

  50. 3-2
    7:39
    pm

    At last the sentiments and the love between yourself and the animals,have turned you into a farmer.I spent 40 years of my life helping on a little farm up on the hills here in the uk.This couple started with a couple of cows, and ended milking 60 Jersey and Guernseys. One named Fab had 20 calves, but the farmers wife had a favourite called groovy. She really loved the dark faced Jerseys just like yours.Suzanne,I have read your book,i could not put it down,it brought back so many memories as I no longer have my retreat in the hills as they have passed away. The Farmer kept goats when he was a boy. and his wife was from a horse racing family,her nephew was the uk champion jockey some years ago.If ever I am down at Harpers ferry, or at Nora Roberts shop at Boonsborough with the wife,I will try and make contact.

  51. 3-3
    10:01
    am

    Hi Suzanne,
    I read this post with real interest. And appreciation for the growth it shows. I am such an animal lover and have owned many different species over the years, from the common to the exotic. As I got to know other animal lovers I was often struck by how often people buy or obtain animals out of some ‘id impulse’– they ‘just gotta have ’em’. Often without any real understanding of the animal’s needs, or the real issues about expense and care; they think they’ll just wing it and see what happens and oh, won’t it be fun. Well, dead or injured animals is what happens. Horses are remarkably fragile, sheep are incredibly daft, goats have some sort of death wish, dogs kill things, domestic ducks and geese are going to die if they escape their enclosures, etc. etc.

    I know you’re a kind-hearted, intelligent person. This is obvious to any who bother to read your posts. And you are clearly a compassionate and learning woman. Hallelujah! I’ve also read post after post that demonstrated –all wrapped in highly entertaining copy– that you had only the most basic of clues what some of these acquisitions’ needs really were and made simple mistakes that resulted in risk, injury or death to creatures you clearly loved. And I’ll tell you, it pissed me off plenty of times. One of the wise people who taught me much of what I know about horses impressed upon me over and over that “no matter what happens to this animal, no matter how crazy– it’s your fault. No matter what it is, you are responsible. (Sounds a bit like parenting, huh?)

    But over time, it was clear that the Isn’t this fun! Aren’t I adventurous! Can you believe what happened to poor (insert name of loose, maimed or dead animal here)! tone was changing. This post is a clear indication of that.

    I’m really enjoying seeing one of your best best and most riveting traits as a writer –the willingness to put yourself out there, looking directly into the harsh sunlight sometimes– merge with your growth as an independent farmer. Congratulations. Great work.

  52. 3-3
    3:16
    pm

    Suzanne,

    I wondered when this day would come, and I think you’ve handled it in excellent style. Thanks for this post. It’s one of the more valuable and useful (to me) that you have ever written.

    When we finally get to live in Roane County full time, I’ll probably come over and pick you brain a little while starting my own little farm.

  53. 3-3
    10:11
    pm

    Sounds like each part was very well thought out with wisdom and maturity. You did good. :hug:

  54. 3-4
    9:20
    am

    Suzanne, I have watched you grow from a newbie into a real farmer over the past several years. As much as I hate to see the animals go, I applaud your decision. This farm, along with your writing, are your livelihood. You have to make hard decisions so that you can thrive at both and be able to support yourself. You were being pulled into too many directions. These changes will simplify your life and streamline operations. It was the right thing to do. Too bad the right thing is never the easy thing! :hug:

  55. 3-4
    4:57
    pm

    Bravo! Puttin’on your big girl pants can be tough. I think a lot of our transition/journey is done now.

  56. 3-5
    9:23
    am

    Well done. You made decisions that were hard, knowing they were for the best. I am a hobby farmer with a “real” job that takes way too much of my time. My hubby has his own business. Each year he hatches out another group of chickens in a search for the perfect chicken. This year I asked if he really had time to deal with the chicks. We have never been able to sell the chicks, and the chickens get big but don’t have much meat on them. In addition, I spend most of the year inundated in more eggs than we can use (ours lay in the winter not the summer for some reason). As much as I love petting the chicks and watching them grow, I’m not sure we can do it with our time commitments this year. It’s always tough making the decision between what your heart wants and what you can realistically do.

  57. 3-12
    12:10
    pm

    I just wanted to let everyone know that Sassy and Peanut are doing great! Sassy just gave birth to her first babies. A boy and girl. They will be two weeks old tomorrow and are doing great. I named them Bonnie and Clyde. I had the boy banned and will be keeping them. They are the first babies born on my farm! I just love them to pieces. :snoopy:

  58. 3-5
    2:51
    pm

    :snoopy: I have always wanted to do what you are living. Sadly it has never been possible for me. I live vicariously thru you keep it up good and kind loving lady. From a 65 yr old disabled Vietnam vet in Maine

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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