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Wednesday, January 29 2014

I clearly recall the 'ah ha' moment I had standing in a tangled jungle of briars as I listened to goats browse. It stirred something in my soul. In that moment I understood peace and living in the moment. The overwhelming spinning carousel of being newly divorced, with a new job, new friends, and new responsibilities slowed, and the fading tune of the merry-go-round was replaced by a patient grinding of teeth. One piece at a time, one bite at a time, the goats tamed an area thigh-deep in thorns.  The lesson was not lost on me. Like the old joke about how one eats an elephant, the goats taught me that life's problems could be handled 'one bite at a time.'

I stumbled down this rabbit hole of goats because of the thorns. After a winter of torrential rains, spring brought a growth of blackberries, poison ivy, and briar rose hedges that I couldn't handle alone. My fences were disappearing under the onslaught of vegetation. A woman alone couldn't physically hack all that down, and I refused to use chemicals.

So I turned to goats.  I bought a handful of half-wild young bucks from a friend of mine. They were my first introduction to goats. These bucks taught me new cuss words, and how to build better fences. And they taught me the lesson of "one bite at a time."

Not only were they slowly taming the jungle around me, they were teaching me independence. A woman alone could run a farm, but she needed the right help. Work smarter, not harder.  And I soon learned that small livestock was the key.

Within a season, the goats had tamed the weeds on the property. I took a couple to the livestock auction and discovered that I could triple my money by buying bucklings, feeding them out a year and selling them. This lesson soon moved me to raisie my own Boer goats.

I appreciated the goats, but they were livestock, not pets. Then I met my first dairy goat.  The moment she tugged at my sleeve for attention, the heavens opened and angels broke out in the Hallelujah Chorus.

By the spring, I was milking my first dairy goat, and my relationship with goats changed. They were no longer admirable adversaries in a battle to keep livestock contained, they were friends who gave me milk, yogurt, and soap. While a goat raised for meat showed me a profit only by the sale of her offspring, a dairy goat showed me a continual paycheck in goat milk soap sales that far exceeded my meat goat sales.

And selling soap was a much more pleasant task than watching my kids drive off to slaughter. So I turned my back on the meat goats and embraced the dairy goats.

As I look back at my evolution in goats, I am amused by the shifting roles. I started out with goats as lawn crews. Their value was in how much land they could clear and how little they troubled me. Now I am their caretaker. They are pampered orchids that I dote on with great pleasure. And just as my first batch of scrub goat bucks, these dairy goats teach me lessons of living in the moment. Like shepherds of old, I experience the peace of sitting in the field, listening to them browse, and the quiet time of milking, with the satisfying 'ting ting' as the milk squirts into the bucket.

While the triumphs and tragedies of life are well illustrated in the confined cosmos of a barn yard, there is no greater therapy than a farm. And in this renewed age of homeschooling, I would also argue there is no greater classroom than a barn yard either. So perhaps that is what this world needs - less mood-altering drugs, and more time spent fixing fences, less time spent on a therapist's couch, and more time spent in the pasture, less time learning about life on cable television, and more time experiencing the circle of life on a farm. Perhaps....

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:30 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
I wish there was a like button to push. Not sure how you manage it, but I could feel myself take a deep breath and relax inside as I read your post today. No need for meditation. Thank you.
Posted by Patty on 01/29/2014 - 01:09 PM
Awww... thank you, Patty! I guess it's another way the goats extend their therapy to all of us.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 01/29/2014 - 03:25 PM

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