Saturday, January 12, 2013

In Memory of Banks, Stewey, Franklin and Otto

Yesterday a friend asked me how many pounds of meat we get from a goat. Today I had an answer. We picked up 125 pounds of Banks, Stewey, Franklin and Otto. I realize this may sound harsh, but they did have a happy new year, two days of it, and along with last year, much more happiness than is experienced by the adulterated meat many people buy at WalMart, Food Lion, or other grocery stores.

Let’s turn to another one of those homesteader questions and our he-said and she-said answers.

What has been the most painful or challenging part of learning how to be self-sufficient?

Karen: Dealing with sick animals and knowing when to get veterinary care or how much to invest in an animal is always tough. Emotions get in the way and sometimes it's hard to be realistic and remember that a goat or pig is not the same as my pet dog even though sometimes they feel like pets.

One of the most frustrating parts of raising animals for meat is dealing with family and friends who don't understand the concept of eating animals raised in a humane way vs. eating meat that comes from a grocery store and has been raised packed tight in a barn with no exercise, fresh air or compassion. If they loved animals the way they say they do they wouldn't continue to promote that way of raising food.  

James: The most daunting part of homesteading is developing a comprehensive view and understanding of the homestead – how everything can work together most effectively, efficiently, economically and environmentally. This takes smarts and concentration. We have barely begun to learn what Elk Cliff Farm has to teach us.

James adds: I guess I failed to address the “painful” aspect of that question, so here’s a little more, picking up on the emotions involved in parting with our livestock pets.

Our goats are dairy goats, not bred for meat production, so the per-goat processing fee is very high per-pound. In case you don’t know, many dairy farms have no use for male goats. These poor unfortunate creatures typically don’t even have one happy day.

Another friend, when I expressed concern about the possibility of global warming, said something like, “Heck, the human race is going to end sooner or later anyway when a giant asteroid hits the planet or our sun dies, so what’s it matter if it’s today or tomorrow?” My answer was, “Well, it matters because until then, life is all we have; let’s be happy and do what we can to make it last.” So it is with these male goats; let’s give them some time to enjoy between birth and death.

I understand all of this may be rationalizing for our dietary habits. You do it, we do it, too. Not only that, we do it with names because we didn’t want to make it easy on ourselves. We can share fond memories of Banks, Stewey, Franklin and Otto. When we started this Elk Cliff Farm venture, we had qualms about this. We still do. We hope we always do. 

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