“Your goats were out again today,” the boys across the street casually mentioned.
“Again?” Doug said, with a little laugh.
“Not funny. I turned around in my garage and there were the two little goats about to drink antifreeze!”
“You need a chain for those goats,” our neighbor, Leo, joined in.
I guess the first thirty-five times the baby goats were romping around the neighborhood was cute, but now not so much. We fixed the place they were getting out of. They refuse to show us how they are escaping now. We have scoured every inch of fence line, moved any possible catapults, and taunted them to come over to our side. They are rather smart and will just baah innocently at us and stay put. That is until the car drives away.
My rurban farm may not be the best place for goats. If I had forty acres, they would get out of their pen but still be in my yard. If I lived in the city I might have a nice, sturdy six foot wood fence. Here, their area is too large to any more elaborate fencing, but there is a highway with their name on it running in front of my house and neighbors ready to turn me in for nuisance animals if I don’t do something.
The reasonable thing to do is to call the girl I got them from and say, “Sorry, it didn’t work out.” There is one thing in farming that we have not learned yet. Letting go. We get so attached to our animals, you would think we were running a shelter over here. We just love those little goats. But I know we cannot keep them. I have no desire to chain the little girls up. But making the decision to give them up does not come naturally to us. A sense of dreaded permanence sets in. An instant regret.
We have a very old dog. In fact I have had him my entire adult life. He is older than my daughters. He cannot find his food bowl. He is blind, deaf, itchy, incontinent, and sweet. Wags his tail every time he hears someone pass. Do you think we have the heart to put him down? Half of my friends would have shot him by now. I just pray he goes soon.
I have a cat who is very lovey, very beautiful, very bad. He has never used a cat box in his life and has no intention of starting any time soon. He is nine years old and we should have booked his sorry ass back to the shelter as soon as we noticed it when he was a kitten. But we did not and now the heartbreak we feel every time we consider taking him to a shelter is just too much.
We have been vegetarian for more years than we can count. We were vegan for a good stretch because dairy animals get killed off for meat, and cheese is made with calf stomach (rennet). We feel for these invisible animals. It would be so much easier to just be able to buy some of my friend, Krista’s pastured beef, or to be able to slaughter our own chickens. But, I can barely cut the heads off of fish. There will be no decapitating Ethel and Peep.
I sure hope I am cut out for this homesteading bit. We need to harden up a little bit when it comes to animals. Or, is that one of the things that makes us who we are? It seems like many people have a filter that they can turn on and not think so much about how the animal might feel. Or not have regret when giving up an animal. This homestead is getting out of hand! Heaven forbid we get a cow. You might find her watching television with us in the living room!