Back in late 2009 I brought home my first goat, along with a llama, to add to my menagerie of chickens. I wasn’t admitting to having a farming problem then, but the bug had surely bitten me, and once I started, there was no going back.
I had only planned on bringing home a llama that day; I had read they were excellent guard animals (HA!!!) that were preferable to dogs (no barking, cleaner poo). Instead I fell in love with a small yearling doe and she came home along with Jerry. In the car Emily decided we’d call her “Milkshakes”.
In short order we had a small farm and learned our doe was a soon-to-be-mommy. This was, incidentally, how I really met Susan. I was inexperienced and terrified, and discovered that the well-known shepherd whose blog I read actually lived just up the road (the rest, as they say, is history!).
It’s taken me a week to work up to writing this post because I needed to get my head straight and not still be too emotional; I needed the telling of it to be therapeutic, and I think I’ve reached that place. You see, we lost our infamous Milkshakes last weekend.
We don’t really know what exactly happened, or why. One moment she was fine and bratty, the next she was not. Animals like this can sometimes give you precious little to go on. What was clear is that it was the end of an era, so to speak. She was our “old reliable” in a way. She never had the parasite problems we’ve struggled through with the rest of the flock, and she mothered like a dream. It just didn’t seem possible she could leave us. But, she had a great life surrounded by companions and all she could eat.
This is the hardest part of animal husbandry. As Susan always reminds me, if you have livestock, you’ll have deadstock. It’s a fact, but it doesn’t make it a whole lot easier when you’re attached to your flock the way we are. Every loss is hard; every loss shakes your resolve and confidence just a little bit. They’re like family, and if they hang around long enough, the loss is that much more keenly felt.
We’ll miss you, you crazy broad. May you only know sunshine and the freshest green grass wherever you are.