Friday, 9 May 2014


A bit of a sadness here. Blackie (the goat on the right) died last night, or rather, we had to help her on her way. She had suddenly failed during the day, and went down on the ground late afternoon. When an animal 'goes down' it means that they are finished with life. But she was in pain so, as I say, we helped her go.

I read somewhere that if you keep livestock and can't bury them, then you shouldn't keep livestock at all. I suppose that means that one has to have the courage to end their lives, whether it is for the kitchen or to put the animal out of pain. This is a toughie. Never, ever, do we take the death of one of our animals lightly.

The male goat we put into the freezer was Blackie's son. He was a grand boy, but was going to start procreating with the other females soon. This we did not want. We could have kept him separate from the females but this would not have been kind to him. Eventually we shall keep the ram (when we get another one) and the billy goat (when we get another one) together for companionship because all animals need this. And yes, we shall keep on with goats, but will only have three. The herd we started off with has provided us with a grand learning curve which has been priceless, but this herd is now done. We shall look after the rest of the goats, but they will go into the freezer when we have room.

Blackie was our best milking goat but, on reflection, I think she was probably not going to last for much longer anyway. We think that she was an old goat to begin with, and although she gave us a healthy billy goat, this year's goatling died within a month of being born. That was tough to deal with as well.

All in all, smallholding can be a bit of a b******r sometimes.



Denise said...

Oh, that is sad, Vera. Goats seem to be quite a smallholding challenge. Are the others missing her? Are goats like that, missing one of their gang when they are no longer there?

Vera said...

Denise, the farm animals do not dwell on the passing of their kind, they just get on with life!

John Gray said...

I always think that always when you think you are cruising.....something always happens
So sorry vera

Niall & Antoinette said...

Never nice when you lose an animal, but you'll remember the goat's cheese she helped produce fondly.
Hadn't been able to comment for a while on -- some glitch but all seems back to normal :-)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

C'est la vie, but you have the right idea and get on with it. As you say if you can't handle the burial or the freezer, then having farm animals is impossible. My mother with her jersey cows would not go near the calves when they were born as she could not bare parting with them. She was much too soft :-) Having said that she bred turkeys each year for Christmas and never had a problem with them in the freezer! Keep well Diane

Marie said...

My dad always said; 'where there is livestock, there will be deadstock' and another ' springtime is the time for living and dying'.
I'm sorry to hear your sad news, but glad you were able to relieve her somewhat.

Denise said...

That's good. I ask only because my middle cat, Tybalt, was very lost for a couple of weeks when his sister Lily died, and also when we lost Pandora last year. He moped (which is most unlike him) and wandered around the house looking for them both for ages. I once found him sitting up atop one of the kitchen cupboards which was where Lily used to hide sometimes. He'd never been up there before, and I think he picked up her scent and just wanted to sit 'with' her, if you know what I mean.

Vera said...

John you are right...just when you think that things are ticking along..... Sorry about your laying hens being taken by foxes recently....Vx

Niall & Antoinette: we still have some of her milk in the freezer as well!

Diane, one has to be very strong to be a keeper of farm animals, but one also has one's own ways of dealing with the responsibility of keeping them, as did your mum and her cows and turkeys!

Marie, your Dad put it very wisely. So many people I speak to express timidity, even shock and horror, because we are responsible enough to slaughter our animals ourselves, and then eat them quite happily, yet they still enjoy their lamb chops, pork roasts, cheese, cream, milk, butter, etc.....all of which involve some sort of ending of life. People, we find, have double edged standards!

Denise, hi again! Farm animals are not pets, that is why they can get on with life. Pets, no matter what sort of animal they are, have entirely different mind sets because of our treatment of them as pets. Our dogs miss us and each other, because they are pets. Providing they are warm and fed, our farm animals are quite happy to do without us, and each other. It is the life of a farm.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Yes, one must get on with life on a farm, one regrets the lost but must not dwell on it.

Ken Devine said...

it takes a special person to deal with the reality and responsibility of both life and death.

northsider dave said...

I agree with Marie.

Death is awful unfinished business. There is nothing sadder when an animal loses it's zest for life and the eyes fade and they are no more. I don't like sending my cattle to slaughter but I manage to do it and know they have had a good life. Sorry to hear your sad news.

Vera said...

Horst, you are right, get on with living life, that is what you have to do. The opposite is to sit and mope which does not do anyone any good!

Ken, I think us smallholders / homesteaders / farmers/ who keep animals must have emotional backbones made of steel!

Northsider Dave, you are right, you can see death in the eyes - there is a sort of light that goes out. I am glad that we don't have to send any of our animals to slaughter (we slaughter ourselves), and I definitely do not like selling our animals to anyone else either after having seen the way in which some of our 'sold' animals were treated subsequent to us selling them.

Jean said...

Just catching up on posts I have missed!
I often save your blog for a day when I have time for a nice sit down and a long read.
Today we have internet switched on in our new house and I have had an operation on my finger, so no unpacking of cardboard boxes for a while!
It is a shame about your goat, it must be impossible to regard your animals just as dinner and not slightly as old friends.

Vera said...

Jean, oh gosh, hope your finger gets better soon. Hope you are settling in, and hope you are not too tired with all that moving. Vx