Thinning the Herd

Well, we are down to just Pasqualina and Pinta in the pen.

Carmelina and kid Nina and Margherita and kid Colombo have moved on to greener pastures, literally. We were always going to sell the kids of those two dams, but when the opportunity came up to send off the dams *with* their kids, we decided it was really for the best — for all of us.

Forgive me if I don’t include a photo of them in this post. It’s all still a little raw, even though the transfer was made a week ago.


The biggest issue for us has been finding room to store all the hay that our goats need throughout the year; since ours mostly stay in the stall and graze very little, they go through a lot of hay, and you can only buy it twice a year when it’s bundled. So that means we need *a lot* of room, and we just don’t have it.

Compounding that, though, we (mostly I) also aren’t crazy about the idea of breeding four or five (or more) dams every year and having to sell off so many kids to slaughter; the hard fact of consuming dairy products is that there are lots of unwanted kids, especially the boys, so we’re aiming to keep our herd very small for now and play it by ear.

This way, if we eventually do want to build, we’ll do it around our best milker, Pasqualina, and her kid Pinta. Pasqualina was always non-negotiable anyway as she was our first doe, but besides that, her breed is a dairy breed; the other two are more “meat goats.” We’re still looking toward breeding Pasqualina and possibly Pinta in the fall, but nothing is decided. We may just keep them for “bellezza” as Paolo says — for beauty. And they are beauties!

And the final issue was that the other two dams bullied Pasqualina quite a bit, and we were worried about accidents and injuries — and already it seemed like Pasqualina may not have been getting enough to eat with the other two pushing her around.

BUT on the bright side, the Big Four have gone to the good home of a young couple who lives in the village (and they have some good grazing land), and we will still get to visit them. Plus I love that they’re all staying together, so I’m sure they’ve already adjusted quite well.

Pasqualina, on the other hand, has really missed her buddies; she has taken to crying for us when we walk away, which she hasn’t done since she was a kid, before we got Margherita. Pinta just kind of looks at her like, “What’s the matter, Mamma?” and chews her cud. Very sweet.


I’m trying to be brave, but it’s truly a heartbreaking change for me. And yet, I know it’s for the best, and I’m sure sooner or later I won’t tear up when I look at photos of my goats gone by, and I’ll also get around to adjusting the information on this site, change out the header, etc.

For now I still want to see their faces every now and again, though, as I realize we were lucky to have them as long as we did. And I have no choice but to regroup as I still have two adorable, sweet faces to scratch in the pen . . . and even a little bum when she sticks it up in the air.

Don’t you just *love* when they “kneel?”

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16 Responses to “Thinning the Herd”
  1. sarasophia

    Aw. ๐Ÿ™ Sorry you had to let them go.

    I was wondering to what end these goats would come. I’m not a vegetarian, or against raising meat in general, but I imagine it would be very difficult to sell off to slaughter an animal one has gotten to know. I gather, though, that the goats need to produce kids in order to continue producing milk? For how many years will Pasqualina produce milk?

    Yes, in order for milk, you need kids…goats can be bread up till 10 years of age or so (and even beyond), but they say if you stop breeding them around 8 years old, you prolong their lives. Pinta could also be bred this fall/winter, but we’ll see…we’re still undecided.


  2. 05.14.2010

    I never thought it through …..just enjoyed your cute goat and kid stories and pictures. This news hit me harder than I would ever have imagined. Yikes. I couldn’t do it!

    Oh you could…you do what you have to in the situation. You cry, you laugh at yourself for crying over freaking goats, you cry some more…. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. 05.14.2010

    oh honey…I’m sorry. It’s good you can still visit them, tho!

    This is true, although I haven’t gone and seen them yet. I’m hoping to not blubber in front of the new maaaaa! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  4. 05.14.2010

    oh God. It hit me hard too. I completely get your trend of thought. And I know, logically, that we humanize animals (in that we love and get emotional about them) to some extent and it’s hard to separate ourselves from them – but I know how hard it is to have done this. I commend you, my dear Michelle. Stai forte! Coraggio!

    Thanks Diana; it’s just hard to let go of something that’s a part of your everyday life…and seeing those precious faces in the morning and on visits throughout the day really make a huge difference on my mood. *sigh* Living is hard sometimes, but it’s certainly better than the alternative ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. Pam

    Michelle, I understand completely how you feel(tearing up myself right now for you)….I have these same feelings often about certain goats I have had in the past….I’m so grateful I have my babies now too! But you hit on some fine points here on how I feel on all these issues too….thank you my friend…see we would get along just fine as sisters..he he! Peace to you and your beauties…..Paolo, I just love that! xoxo

    P.S. do you really need to change things…I mean unless you really want too. I enjoy looking at all those beauties…just a thought….they are just so darn sweet. Have a wonderful day!

    Thanks Pam; I knew you’d get it. They just become part of our lives…and you’re right, I don’t really *have* to change things…we’ll see how it goes. I may even add the bygone babies to the header, keeping track of our goat family through the years ๐Ÿ˜€


  6. 05.14.2010

    This is so sad! Don’t tell me sad things on a Friday!

    I’m sorry you had to let them go. It’s nice that they all got to go together, at least. And I also don’t think you need to take their photos down just because they live somewhere else. Just think of them as your kids (!) who’ve gone off to college.

    You’re the second person who referred to them going off to college…man do I raise smart goats. Probably more like smart ass goats, but who’s keeping track?

    Sorry about doing this on a Friday…you’re right. This is not Friday news. Um…have you seen Pinta honking? That’s Friday news! ๐Ÿ˜€


  7. sandra

    I could never live on a farm. I couldn’t part with any of them then we would have a hoarding problem. At least they will be happy grazing in the warm sun!

    Yeah, I *think* I would like to live on a farm, but parting with the animals…ugh. I’ve already parted with enough animals in my life, but they give so much joy when they’re in it. Yes, they should be happy in their new grazing spot! I hope to see them this weekend if it doesn’t rain (they don’t much care for the rain) ๐Ÿ˜‰


  8. Beth

    Geeze! Here I am whining about the loss of part of my tree & you’ve lost part of your family! At least they’re together & you can still see them ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I can imagine it’s still tough though. If you’re taking votes, I say there’s no need to change the photos – they were part of this from the begining, after all. OK, off to take another look at Pinta before I start crying…..

    Pinters is definitely the cure for tears…just as Pasqualina has always been for me. I’m very lucky ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. 05.14.2010

    This is very tough. As you know (or have found out) animals have feelings & even more so than scientists ever thought. I’m glad they’re together, too. I feel really sorry, though.

    Thanks Susan; it’s an adjustment for all of us.


  10. 05.14.2010

    I am glad you kept sweet Pasqualina and Pinta. I know it must have been difficult on you sending the others to a new home…but you will get to visit.

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ Pasqualina was always staying with us, so we’re extra happy she had a girl who could also stay too ๐Ÿ˜€


  11. 05.15.2010

    Oh how sad. I hate when I have to sell my boys. I work hard to try and find a “forever farm” for them, but I can’t always do that. I’m glad you at least get to visit.

    This is certainly our struggle now…do we continue on and try to get used to it or not? We just don’t know at this point. Thanks for your comment and support, Teresa ๐Ÿ™‚


  12. 05.15.2010

    I am an admitted hypocrite. I hate how we have to manage animals to get cheese and meat, and yet I love cheese and like meat. My neighbors rear and slaughter animals and are kind enough to do it on days when I am away. Reality often bites.

    Totally with you, Judith…totally.


  13. Shanster

    Well, I have to say – like you I wish my does would just milk forever so I wouldn’t have to have kids! It’s better for me now that I’ve been raising dairy goats now for 6 yrs… but it is never an easy task. And it’s taken me SIX years! I do think of the poor kids as “byproducts” especially the males… we try to keep things micro-small to avoid many kids.

    Hang in there. I absolutely know it is so hard… I’m thinking of you!

    Thank you; that means a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ I kind of knew that I shouldn’t have let myself get so attached to these, but it was our first kidding and well, if you don’t enjoy then, you know? I think it’ll get *slightly* easier with time, if we continue down that road. I think I was actually most upset about the dams since I wasn’t *expecting” them to go too…not that I’d be happy to picture the kids on the dinner table. Ugh. This is hard stuff indeed. Thank you again ๐Ÿ™‚


  14. 05.19.2010

    I can relate to your plight! I also become very attached to my goaties. They each know their name. We play and dance (yes dance!) together. They are my dear friends. Thinning the herd is a reality of daily life on the farm. Best wishes! Jenny

    Thank you Jenny…Pinta loves to dance too! Pasqualina is more of a wallflower when it comes to dancing, but she has her moment ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. 06.05.2010

    Finally catching up on my favorite blogs…. That must have been a very difficult and sad day for you to lose some of your precious family members. At least they are nearby. I hope you are feeling better after a few weeks have passed and Pasqualina has also adjusted.

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. Rose Marie Milcetic

    So sorry that you had to make that decision to let go of the four furry ones. I could not ever have done it but then I am an extremely emotional person and I rule with my heart and sometimes not very well with my head. I am not criticizing you but I am really saddened by your decision. If you can believe, I am hurting with regard to your decision. I guess I kind of got caught up with regard to these mammas and kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too too bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My stomach has dropped to hear that it actually happened. I hope that this couple keeps them forever and ever and ever and that they will be happy and not slaughtered.

    Well in the grand scheme of life, this isn’t close to the most heartbreaking things that can happen. One of the best things we can do is to not try to hold on to anything that isn’t meant to be ours…everything in life is transitory ๐Ÿ™‚


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