Well I guess you could say we chickened out. I can’t deny that we kind of did, but it just seemed easier this way. Let me back up and start at the beginning.
We have three lovely lady dairy goats; for us to continue to get milk they have to kid every year. Well this year our 3 ladies gave birth to six bouncing baby goats: 3 boys and 3 girls. Early on we had said we wanted to keep all the girls to eventually replace their mothers. We knew one of the mothers, Vivi, was getting up in age and was having a harder time each season with getting her milk flowing consistently, and we thought about not breeding her again. Instead we got a good offer to sell two of the girls to a guy who already has a herd and was looking to add to it, so we were confident they were going to a good home. So off they went and we had a little money to buy more feed, straw, and hay.
The boys had a different path planned for them. We knew we needed at least one of them to go live with their dad so he wouldn’t get bored and lonely being by himself. We castrated all three of them and left their horns on because the father, Sherlock, has horns and we wanted them to be able to defend themselves. But what to do with the other two goats?
We decided that we would wait until fall and harvest two of the wethers. It was the responsible thing to do. This decision was met with shock from many of our city friends and family. We had made the choice to come out to the country and learn more about where our food comes from and this was another step. We didn’t just want to collect pet animals. We talked to a neighbor about putting them down and dressing them when the time came, then we would do the rest. I know that may have been chickening out number one, but we knew we would have a very hard time putting them down. I knew I could do a chicken, and if an animal was sick or injured I knew I could muster what it would take, but this seemed different.
Well the fall arrived and what do you know? A friend of a friend is looking for some goats, any goats, to have as some sort of pets to live with her donkeys and horses. It was decision time. We made a compromise with ourselves, we would sell the goats to someone happy to have them but whatever money we got for them we would use to buy meat and stock the freezer.
So our planned freezer of goat meat became a freezer of assorted meat.
A hundred dollars seems to go pretty far. I don’t know how much meat we would have gotten off our little wethers, but this seems like a lot more than was on them.
Sure I know we took the easy way out this year, but I’m okay with it. Things happen for a reason. In years to come we may go through the same process, and it may end differently. But I feel this year, for this pile of meat, we sort of earned it. It’s like we grew a crop then bartered for what we needed. I know I’m pushing it with that analogy but I like it better than straight out saying we took the chicken exit on the roller coaster.
To all those out there that responsibly harvest their livestock, you have my respect. Millions of people go into the grocery store and pick up meat for dinner never knowing where it came from or what decisions were made in its life. Millions more people live with and harvest the animals that end up on their plates. The transition in knowledge between the two is where I currently find myself, no longer fully in the first but not completely ready step into the other.