the farming year 09, continued
A new experience for me farming this year, was raising animals for consumption.
I read this amazing book called the Compassionate Carnivore, by Catherine Friend. She’s from down around Northfield, Minnesota. http://www.compassionatecarnivore.com/
It changed my life, but I wasn’t ready to eat animals again. This book reiterated that there IS an ethical way to raise meat animals, and that people are wanting to find those farmers and support them. And I wanted to be one of those farmers. Because who is going to take better care of her animals than a vegan? I’d try raising some animals for “compassionate carnivores.”
When I began milking goats, the realization came quick that every cute baby can’t just stay around my little farm as a pet. I don’t have the room, nor the unlimited cash flow to feed them.The male kids can’t have a future as a milk goat, so inevitably, they will be pets/stud goats elsewhere with an uncertain life, or they will be eaten. Compassionate Carnivore style, this year I kept quality control over each aspect of my kids’ life, from the beginning to the end.
A Goat Harvesting workshop was scheduled on my farm on Oct 31st, taught by my skilled friend Don. The kids, after weaning from the mommas, spent the summer and early fall out at a friend’s orchard, where he needed help clearing pasture. I don’t have enough land to facilitate that much pasturing, so this was a very good arrangement. The kids were fat on milk to start, and then they grazed their hearts out, grew lean and big on a buffet of all the classic browse goats love to eat.
To start production of the milk, a goat has to have babies. Babies are a byproduct of milk production, which is strange, as the milk is made for them, because of their creation. Domesticated dairy goats have been selectively bred to produce FAR more milk than their babies would ever drink, for much longer than they would naturally nurse on their moms. My point here is that in order for me to be ok with consuming my girls’ dairy products, I had to acknowledge there would be death involved.
At the beginning of fall, they came back from pasturing to my farm, in the back seat of my trusty FUV (farm utility vehicle), a 1997 Ford Taurus! I made sure everyone was healthy and happy, and gave them lots of organic oats and organic corn to fatten them up a bit. Animals get stressed out very easily, so it was important for me to have them back on my farm several weeks before the goat harvesting day, so they were comfortable and settled into the routine.
To view the pictures from the Harvesting Workshop, go here:
I am so grateful to Steve Filla for photographing this day so well, and sharing the pictures.
At the beginning of the workshop, I sold everyone their goat, and then Don taught them how to do everything else. There were ten participants, myself included. We all helped each other, and that way you really absorb what you have learned by repeating it over and over. And having moral support helps too! I explained to them that this is a natural cycle on a farm, the harvesting of animals who won’t be contributing the following year. And in turn, they provide cash flow to feed the other animals. Each person had a respect and an open heart about what they were doing. It was really an amazing day, and a full circle experience for me on my farm. These are the people I wanted to connect with. I always respected people who could look an an animal as food, vs the typical squeemishness of most. Here we were, looking food in the face, but with a feel of gratitutde not found in any grocery store.