There are some things that you can learn about only by doing them, and having goats was one of those things for us. We adored the kids, I loved the breed, and I appreciated how personable and intelligent the goats were. But for one and a half years, we cared for them without receiving any milk in return, and the milk-n-cheese pay-off wouldn’t come until we’d fed and cared for them for two years. That pay-off would come with a price: milking every day, which was something I couldn’t imagine fitting into a full-time job and the full-time care of my son.

I realized that, the more I took on, the more stuff I was doing half-assed. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything that I wanted to do and do it well. I also realized that, as a single parent, there’s a limit to how many life-forms I can care for without neglecting some pretty important things.

The people who bought Calypso, Pandora, and Pan are profoundly knowledgeable about goats and will provide a home for them that is far better than any we could ever provide. Calypso and Pandora went to Hillary Kenworthy at Woodland Hills Farm and Pan went to Jacqui Wilcox at Daystar’s Farm. Rhea, our favorite, went to friends on the island.

The problem with all this? Guarding goats was our dog’s job, and since they left, she seems to have lost her anchor. We now have Emma outside during the day, guarding the chickens and ducks, and we have her inside at night, guarding us and the cats. We love Emma and hope that this rhythm will meet her need for meaningful work.

Meanwhile, I miss the presence and energy of the goats, but I don’t miss their demanding bleats whenever we stepped out the back door. I don’t miss paying for and hauling hay–and storing two tons of it in the basement because we don’t have a barn. And I don’t miss having to care for goats in the dark on these short winter days. Both Adrian and I are satisfied with our decision to find new homes for the goats. But it doesn’t really feel like a farm without them.

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