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Life Without Livestock

By   /  April 28, 2014  /  1 Comment

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Cisco was my first goat.  He was a 250 lb Saanen wether and I got him to go goat packing.  We never went on a pack trip, but we took a lot of walks around the neighborhood.

Cisco was my first goat. He was a 250 lb Saanen wether and I got him to go goat packing. We never went on a pack trip, but we took a lot of walks around the neighborhood.

As part of my preparations for our move to Tucson, this past weekend I gave up my goats.

A couple that raises beef cows nearby came to pick them up with their stock trailer.  Together we took up all the electric fence netting around the pasture, emptied the water trough, and loaded all the equipment into the back half of the trailer.  Then I put the leads on Ruby and Agnes and walked them to the front half of the trailer.  They ate some apples from my hand, sniffed the cow manure on the sides of the trailer, nibbled at the hay we left for them, and then I closed the door and said goodbye.

Later, I went and stood on the back deck to see what the place looked like without livestock.  In spite of myself, I anticipated hearing them “maaaa” to me from the pasture like they have every time I walked out there for the past 12 years.  I went over to check the chickens, who will soon be picked up by another adopter, and noticed that the grass is getting pretty long outside the pen.  My mind automatically turned to bringing the goats over to trim it down for me and then I remembered that I don’t have any goats anymore.

Having kids was a lot of work and a lot of fun.  In 2002 I had to hand raise 60 kids.  They weren't allowed to nurse from their moms because we had some concerns about Johne's in the herd.  But that's a whole bother story!

Having kids was a lot of work and a lot of fun. In 2002 I had to hand raise 60 kids. They weren’t allowed to nurse from their moms because we had some concerns about Johne’s in the herd. But that’s a whole other story!

Since 1996, when I got my first goat, in the back of my mind has been this drive to find food for my goats.  Driving down the road I see a ditch or a median full of goat food.  When the University landscapers were trimming bushes I saw goat food.  Neighbors brought me tubs of apples that had hit the ground or were bug-bitten. At Christmas time, I kept track of tree lots that weren’t likely to sell all their trees so I could bring the leftovers home to the goat herd.  I’ve watched the weather with an eye on what it would mean for the herd, making sure the water trough was full, the trough heater was working, and the gates were open or closed as necessary.

The last of my herd, Ruby and Agnes.  She was one of the kids I raised by hand so I've had her since the day I had to pull her from her Mom.

The last of my herd, Ruby and Agnes. She was one of the kids I raised by hand so I’ve had her since the day I had to pull her from her Mom.

I’m sad about this change, even though it’s for the best.  I’d have no pasture at all in Tucson, and hay is expensive there.  At 8 and 12, Ruby and Agnes wouldn’t adapt well to the over 100 degree summer heat, so this works better for them.  But it’s a big adjustment. For me, there is nothing more calming than hanging out with a bunch of ruminants as they graze or chew their cud.  For the past 18 years, whenever life was hard, or I’d had an argument with my husband, I’d head out to sit with the goats to get a better perspective on life, the universe and everything.  And now my goats are gone.  I’m not sure what I’ll do without them, and after 18 years of being “the goat lady” I kind of wonder who I’ll be.

Who would you be without your livestock?

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Kathy and Rachel

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  • Published: 3 years ago on April 28, 2014
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  • Last Modified: April 28, 2014 @ 10:34 pm
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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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