A lot has happened. The wonder of it all. Twins, twins and triplets. Lost the only single-born baby, then its mother who not so long ago had looked the strongest of them all. Questioned it all : Am I doing all right ? What can I learn ? Can the land carry the animals ? M. said : if you have livestock, you will sometimes have deadstock. Truth be told, keeping animals mean having a lot to do with death and excrements.
We named—Coconut—and buried—under a sweet chestnut tree—the little thing that did not have the strength to live. We will plant a oak tree for its departed mother.
Seven more babies came into the world, two males (to eat) and five females. The new mothers have overwintered on hay, daily-cut briars, dried nettles, garlic. There was a time when I felt that I had to feed my goats organic concentrates—with ingredients from afar—regularly, but have come to wonder if this is not actually junk-food to a degree : so I am now giving my ruminants a lot of locally grown food to ruminate on, roughage to keep them warm, green and dried plants to keep them busy chewing the cud.
This time here is circular, am also thinking of the winter that will come round : I am harvesting nettles—the tips for us now to gently fry in butter and serve with breakfast scrambled eggs, the tips to dry now for nettle tea in the future—the bulk to dry for nourishing winter fodder for my ladies.
All surviving babies are jumping around, running together, sleeping on top of each other, head-butting their mother’s udders to get the milk to flow. All mothers are pretty much eating round the clock to keep up with milk-making. I did that too for my own babies in my time, I empathise and do the best I can to make their lives as easy as can be.
I have started making a mental list of what I will not manage and need to forgivingly put off till another year, but the field that did not get fenced last year as I ran out of steam is on my to-do list now, two weeks to go before they need to be moved there in their rotation. I think I am growing more accepting of the limitations of my small frame and the slowness of my progress with this patch of land on my own. Slow progress but good happy work, will I ever yield an income from this, only time will tell. In the mean time it keeps me sane, and gives my young people and I plenty to chew on too.
“To don’t” list – to go with the “To Do” (book: Sabbath in the Suburbs”)
“To not quite yet” list, rather…