Some days on the farm are so fulfilling I feel my heart will surely explode with joy and gratitude.
All days on the farm are challenging. Most often that challenge is rewarded so many times over, the exhaustion, the sweat, the drama, the costs all somehow seem reasonable.
Recently we celebrated our third year of selling our cheese and we were openly embraced by our community who enjoyed our specials and our sales with great enthusiasm. It was as an anniversary should be. It was filled with joy and love and time with special people.
Behind our joy lurked a heavy heart.
On our farm we have quite the reputation for being foolish about our livestock. I believe the problem stems from the fact that we don’t consider our animals livestock. At most they are petstock. We love the animals of our farm. I have been told that local ‘real farmers’ don’t take us seriously because we are so soft. I find it easy to believe there is truth to that, and I can live with that.
We cannot keep them all, I know. But we do go to extraordinary levels to be certain they have the best lives that we can provide for them, no matter their individual limitations or fates.
This year the loss toll has been high. We lost our big, strong doe Yukitat, daughter of my beloved Camellia, to complications of a difficult kidding. As a matter of fact, this spring, over the course of two weeks we had a rash of challenging deliveries, stillborns, premature deliveries and complications. All of the mothers survived, except Yukitat. Our vet became a regular fixture on the farm, and I credit him with saving all of the does he could.
Usually by the time kidding season has passed, so have all of the health-related stress issues of the farm.
However, in May we lost the last cat we had when Tom and I met, Kitten (AKA Itty Bitty Kitty), had complications of her old age catch up with her.
This year summer brought more sorrow. In late May, Meeps, who had joined a local herd and was maturing well, came back home very sick. On June 2, one year to the date of his arrival, Meeps died in our arms. The special year we had with him has left an indelible mark on our hearts.
Then August brought with the surprising loss of Ollie. Ollie was healthy and fine in the morning, noticeably struggling while we were getting a hay delivery and gone within an hour. It was sudden and shocking. We had no time to prepare, call the vet, or even try to help. We were helpless.
http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/lifestyle/216217091.html (here is the link I forgot to add when originally posting)
This made it two losses that still bring tears just to think of them.
Now sweet and bossy (depending on if you were human or 4-legged) Layla has been laid to rest. This past week our lovely Layla, who had gone to retire on a friend’s farm, died. Our hearts are broken. That lovely doe provided so much for us here, and there. It couldn’t be helped, and the sweet old girl did not have enough fight left in her. Even with the best veterinary care, it was inevitable and the kindest and best decision to make. It doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. I was fortunate to get to spend some time with her during her illness and her last day. It was her I went to go see after losing Ollie. Even in her illness, Layla laid with me, pulled me closer to her with her head and comforted me through the loss. She was truly a special soul.
My heart aches.
http://wabisabiwhidbeywife.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html (here is the link I forgot to add when originally posting)
This afternoon I got to take some time after chores, cheese care, visiting with guests, hoof-trimming, mowing (and before raising a shelter and finishing some fencing), and just sat in the pasture with my girls.
After the initial onslaught of attention, my Velvet Rose stayed by my side. She rubbed all over my head, shoulders and back, then she was satisfied to just stand over me and chase off any would-be interlopers that vied for my attention.
My herd breaks my heart. My herd mends my heart and makes it whole.
My friends, my supporters, my customers, yes, you… you are part of my herd. Thanks to you and my 4-legged herd for healing this soft heart and keeping it whole, and overflowing.
Vicky, Chief Milkmaid