Valentine, contemplating life, the universe, and everything. I love my goats and the peace of it when I am among them. People hassle me a lot that I work too hard. They think I am slaving away trying to take care of my goats and property. They think I am trying to prove how tough I am by commuting two hours a day to keep a full-time job in Boise, then coming home to take care of them. But I have entertainment and relaxation every day just being a part of the herd. I come home and get rid of my itchy, confining office clothing, get into some grubbies, and let the goats out. They eat the leaves as they fall, the weedy parts of the garden, and the windfall fruit that falls under the apple and pear trees. Now the acorns are starting to mature and fall to the ground. I love just moving along with the herd, showing them where the goodies are. Every day is a vacation if I can spend a little time with them.
I didn't finish shearing my goats until last Monday--I think mid-June is the latest ever. It took me forever this year. I have had a terrible time with my shearers over-heating and it has been very frustrating. Last Sunday, I was determined to get Moses all finished. He was such a brat this year and Bawled and Screamed and Fought the entire time. I had to use scissors more than half the time. I had him tied to one leg of a big table in the middle of the shop and at one point, he ran off, pulling the table leg away with him. Everything--fencing supplies, mohair, extra shearing blades, medications, olive oil, machine oil, nails, hinges--feel on the back of my neck and onto the floor in a shower of debris. What a mess and so disconcerting! At least with Moses trailing the table leg, he was easier to catch again--the board got stuck in a tree root. I sat on him, persisting until he was all finished and now he is looking great! When I finally got up to let him go, my whole body was cramped and sore. Is this all worth it? I must say, though, his fleece was beautiful this year.
It snowed about 3 inches last night, and the farm is so beautiful today. Winter in the country is so much prettier than winter in busy towns. Even though winter weather makes taking care of the animals a little bit harder, I'm glad I have this work to do. My paying job is in an office, where I sit in front of a computer all day. So it is such a nice change to get out in the fresh air and use my muscles to clean the barn and haul water. It is a brilliant blue sky today, with brilliant white snow on the branches and fields. God's color combinations are sublime!
Mom and I are now professional shearers. We shear my goats, but just today we went to shear the five goats I had sold earlier this year. It was fun to get to see them again. And we got paid! My Mom is such an awesome lady--who else has a Mom who teaches herself to shear Angora goat
It is so indescribably peaceful to hang out with goats and donkeys. I'm glad gardening season is over so I can let them all out to eat down the remains of the garden and the first falling leaves. They get such a diversity in their diet, plus I don't have to do much to put the garden to bed for the winter. And I would rather have the goats eat the leaves than rake them, since I have so many trees. Healthy grazing, ruminant animals are so focused on munching and digesting and so contented. Unless you have experienced being one of a goat herd, it is hard to explain the aura of peace and contentment. And the donkeys just love to have any attention from me--scratching around their ears and just hanging with them. I just like being around them. And I've never thought of myself as one of the herd! I have always felt so out of place with humans. I'm just in the wrong herd!
I work for the Department of Environmental Quality and I'm a Christian and a long-time student of the Bible, so I know it is our duty to care for and preserve the beautiful world God gave us. It makes me so sad when people want to take all of a natural resource to maximize profit, then leave a big mess in the environment. However, I am also sad when rampant over-regulation and misunderstanding constantly points the finger at agriculture as a major polluter.
I think farmers and ranchers are the best folks we have in this country and a few bad apples have given agriculture a bad name as being environmentally unfriendly. It is such hard work and so difficult to make a living, but some of us just feel driven to make our livelihoods this way. It is a wholesome lifestyle to work outside and work hard for a living, and there is just something that drives us to keep at it. I feel it--for some reason I just have to keep goats. I love them so much and I love being outdoors caring for them. I have been at this for 13 years without making a profit--sometimes I come close to breaking even. It's heartbreaking when they sicken and die, I have fencing and irrigation emergencies, it can be one drama after another--most people are completely bemused that I would keep sticking with it, but other country people would understand.
Along with commandments to be good stewards of the land, one of God's first commandments was to dominate the world. And humans do dominate. There is just no way to argue that we have an effect on the natural world wherever we go. It is such a shame and such a pity that historically, this has been a negative effect--to take all we can get, kill all the native plants and animals, and leave devastation for future generations. However, God's commandment to dominate was to take care, tend, and nurture the land while we got what we needed from it to be a strong, healthy, productive people.
Farmers and ranchers come the closest to fulfilling this commandment, as far as I can see. They are the ones who truly care for their land, making it productive and rich, feeding and clothing us all, while keeping the land fully-functioning to pass it down to future generations. As science continues to improve, we need to help the farmers to be more productive, more nurturing of the resource, and more
After 13 years of keeping Angora goats without selling very many animals, this has been a most unusual year. I have had three independent inquiries about the mysteries and drama of beginning a goat farm. One family has already purchased 5 of my sweeties! I couldn't have asked for a better family to take care of them--they have a secluded, well-fenced, lush pasture, a large family with daughters who have lots of time to lavish attention on the goats, and they live close enough to me that I can come and visit them! I had some separation anxiety because I sold them Sweet Pea, who was the first kid born into my goat family, 12 years ago. And I sold Isabelle, who was my first bottle baby and is very affectionate. And also Stormy, who is Izzy's first baby. Just those three represent a lot of firsts and a lot of memories, but I knew that the Garners were the right family to treasure them as much as I do. I also let Rufous go--he was the kid born brown last year. It was such a surprise that he expressed that recessive gene for the colored Angoras! And I also sold them Samson. He has always been a shy boy and he was very attached to his mother, who died last year during the terrible winter. Their new family have actually tamed him enough to get him to come up to them for treats and petting!
I am so happy they have found a new home!
The goats are loving it, though. They can tolerate hot, dry weather much better than the below-zero weather we had last winter.