September 19, 2008

Sweet Pumpkin

Raising meat goats can be a little bit of a challenge for me as a soft hearted animal loving person. I do take a lot of pride in raising our own meat as well as putting food on other people's tables and I had no delusions going into this where the neat little packages of food in the meat department at the grocery store come from. The difference is I don't know how that animal was raised, was it raised humanely? Was it kept happy and healthy and raised in a large grass pasture where it could run and play with other animals like him? I have seen the crowded feedlots in Kansas and so I imagine a great deal of the time not, at least in the case of beef; but that is how our meat wethers are raised, well cared for and happy. Humane farming is important to me, still I am who I am and there are certain things I have to do for my own sake to avoid getting too attached too our meat wethers. I never give our wethers names like our breeding does and bucks have. They are well fed, cared for and kept happy but I do have to keep that little bit of distance of not giving them a name for my own sake. Every once in awhile, despite my best intentions one manages to worm his way into my heart and ends up with a name. Since the farm just can not support a lot of non-producing "pet" goats I am roped by my emotions into finding a pet home for the now named wether or finding him a job on our farm.

That is where I am at with Pumpkin, a pretty, little, solid red wether born this past June. He was never considered for a breeding buck because he was rather feminine in appearance and slightly dainty in bone & his head. From the beginning he was messing with my plans. We don't kid goats in June, so all the other wethers had been born 3 months earlier in March, but this was our first accidental breeding. My husband really started it by calling him "Oops". Technically that isn't a name in my book so I was still OK with it. "Oops" was trying to manipulate my emotions from birth, as he looked up at me with his ridiculously cute little face and big blinking eyes and tried to wobble after me when I left the kidding pen. From then on over the last few months a tug of war was started of me trying to ignore him because I know what wethers are raised for here and him following me around refusing to be ignored.

Most of our dam raised wethers are not exactly wild but they are not tame either, as they take a "look but don't touch me" stance and if you don't have a bucket of grain as a bribe they go off and do their own goaty things and pretty much ignore me and that is just the way I like it. This wasn't the case with Oops, everywhere I went in the goat pasture there was this adorable little red kid looking up at me with those soft brown eyes and adorable long ears, being extra cute all the time. If we were weighing the other wethers, he was there putting both front feet on the weight sling in between other goats and walking around in circles on his back feet with his head thrown back, face to the sky practically screaming "Look at me! Look at me! I am too dang cute not to have a NAME!" Even the way he would chew his cud with extra enthusiasm was cute, it was ridiculous. My husband was the worst, he has no hang-ups about the meat wethers or giving them names but that didn't stop him from making things more difficult for me by always picking Oops up and showing me how strangely he liked to be picked up and carried around like a baby and saying "Aww...isn't he cute" all the time didn't help either, he clearly wasn't on my side.

Before I knew it I was starting to make justifications in my own head, that this June born wether would never make weight the same time as the other wethers and by now there was no way he could be put in our own freezer, I was getting too attached. I just didn't get this goat, he was never a bottle baby but from birth he has had a friendly curiosity about everything people do in his world and a sweetness that just couldn't be ignored, then it happened. I was feeding the kids the other day and my husband pointed out that this impossible goat was kind of an orangy red color and before I could stop myself I did it...I said "We should call him Pumpkin". Drats...manipulated by a goat and a baby goat at that, well it was too late for me even before I named him. Now I have to find a good pet home to sell him too or find a purposeful job for him on our farm. So if anyone wants a manipulative but cute pet wether they can check out the sales page of our website; meanwhile I am thinking if he doesn't sell, I guess the one thing this farm is missing is a token wether as a reminder that I am still a push over when it comes to personality and ridiculous cuteness.


Anonymous said...

I understand how hard it can be to sell those pet goats too, good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer, I loved reading this post as our dream is to have a little farm and my fear is that I too will be too soft hearted for my own good. I wish you luck in finding a home for Pumpkin. Be well.

Juri said...

I just found your blog and have had such fun reading your posts...wonderful blog! If I lived close to you, I would be racing over to buy Pumpkin...we have a bunch of goats, just as pets, and he would have made a great addition! I learned about giving names to animals we are raising for food...not a good idea. I raised a bull from birth...bottle fed him, loved him, and NAMED him....and when we finally had him slaughtered, I cried for three weeks! Our pigs...not as many tears, although I did feel bad! I hope you find Pumpkin a good home....I will be looking forward to your posts and I am so glad I happened upon your blog!