We often joke that we live on a micro farm, but it really is no farm. It’s an old farm house, a tiny barn, a handful of goats, a beehive, some inside animals, a scattering of fruit trees and bushes, and a sometimes garden.
We take our bit of farming seriously, love our land and animals, but we also realize we’re sort of just playing at it. That’s fine. Neither of us are from farming families. We have day jobs in the land of technology. What we do outside of those jobs we do for love, for curiosity, for learning, for attaching ourselves further to our home and our land and our lives.
Even playing at farming brings us close to some of the realities of true farming, those moments and days when our already considerable admiration of farmers increases: Listening to the baby monitor all night to detect sounds of goat labor. Springing out to the barn with the “birth kit” to assist with a delivery. Hoof trimming, hay stacking, mucking, worming, vaccinating. Milk bottles stacking up in the fridge. Milk demanding to be made into cheese or cajeta or yogurt or something before it goes bad. The sick goat kid in the bathroom (and the car).
And then there’s the day when you see that you have more goats than you want to feed. Or, more accurately, more than you want to feed when you plan to breed more goats, birth more kids, to start the milk flowing again.
They’re not pets. They’re farm animals. We’ve named them all. Cuddled them all. Held them in our arms and on our laps. We’ve scratched their ears and horn buds, tended their wounds, smelled their warm breath, slipped them treats, toted hot drinking water out to them in the middle of a nor’easter. But they are not pets. They are farm animals.
And so, to make room for more, to continue to breed these Guernseys, to continue to work on our cheese- and cajeta making, we’ve sold Albus and Lars, the first two goats born in our barn. We sold them to a retired man who loves them and whose only hobby is to care for his herd. They have a nice barn and pasture, several new goat friends. It’ll be a fine goaty life.
To tell the truth, our goat yard is fifty times calmer now than it was a month ago. Without the boys’ energy and horns, the remaining girls seem more settled and there’s far less pushing and shoving when I go to fill the hay feeder.
We stopped the milking, too, for the winter. None of us needs the winter milking experience again, at least not this soon. We’re talking about breeding a couple of the girls this fall, for fresh babies and milk come spring.
Right now, though, we, the animals, and the land have all come to a quiet halt, a slow exhale, just before the winter locks down.
From the window by my desk, I can see the bare branches of the blueberry bushes that gave so prolifically this summer. I can see the freshly shorn lawn, neat from the last mowing of the season. I can see the quiet hive; whoever is left in there is hunkered down for what’s to come.
I can see the goat yard, the girls nibbling at what’s left of the green, taking sips of water at the stock tank. And I miss those boys. I truly do. I miss Albus’ sweet face and the way he’d sniff noses with me in greeting. I miss Lars’ gorgeous feathery coat and the way he’d tip his head quietly down so I could scratch between his horns.
I miss them, but I’m happy for them, and for whatever’s to come to our little farm when the snows melt in the spring.