We faced one of the more difficult realities of farm life this week; we took two of our goat bucks to the butcher. It wasn’t easy to take animals that we had cared for to be slaughtered but it needed to be done. Five of the eight kids that came with our four nannies were bucks. We are planning to keep the three doelings and have them bred but we don’t need one, let alone five bucks. One buck is able to breed between 20 and 50 does(!) Our plan for the foreseeable future is to rent a buck in the Fall rather than keep one. Bucks are not easy to keep because of their strange behaviours and smells as they mature.
So, we have known all along that the five bucks were surplus and planned to take them to the butcher before they became sexually mature and created trouble in our little herd. Fortunately, there seems to be a good demand for goat meat in our area and most of the meat of the first two is spoken for already. One interesting development has been the establishment this year of “The Local Food Shop” only a few kilometres down the road from us which sells food from a number of local farms (see http://thelocalfoodshop.ca/). The owner, Joaquim, is Portuguese and is excited to have goat meat for his family and for his store’s customers. Another neighbour is from Zanzibar and is looking forward to buying some goat meat, something he misses from his homeland.
This all helps but hasn’t made it easy. Several other factors which have helped us deal with it include:
- The goats had a good life before being taken away. They lived in what some call an ideal goat environment in our mixture of bush and pasture, enjoying freedom to act like goats and to eat the types of food they were created to eat.
- We enjoyed having the little bucks but had been careful not to become attached to them. The grandchildren were encouraged to name and make friends with the nannies and doelings but were instructed not to name the bucks nor become close to them.
- It is a simple fact that the majority of male goats in this world don’t get the best chance in life. Whether on meat or milk farms, most bucks are surplus. Even in the wild, after fighting to establish dominance, only a few bucks make it to the top. Many of the rest are forced to leave the main herd and thus become more vulnerable to predators.
- We understand that the end at the butcher’s came quickly and painlessly. We weren’t there at the final moment but were impressed with the peace and quiet when we delivered them and the butcher’s quiet way with the animals. In the wild, on the other hand, the end often comes somewhat less quickly and painlessly at the jaws of predators.
So, it all makes sense to me. Nevertheless, because we care for the goats and respect them as fellow creatures, I hope that I never get fully used to this reality of farm life.
On another subject, for those interested, here is a link to an album that Google Photos created out of our Newfoundland pictures. We included many of the pictures in the first half of the album in an earlier post but those in the second half, featuring the outports of Brigus, Trinity and Bonavista, are new::