"Well, I don't have to think about that yet," I replied. "They need to grow up a bit so we can evaluate which ones to keep."
|Kid races. This is one of the few photos I've managed with all 8 in it!|
Actually, we'd love to keep all of them, but that isn't possible. As Dan and I talked, I commented how in biblical times one's flocks were a sign of one's wealth. Not so today. To the modern mindset such a notion is primitive and ignorant. After all, wealth is all about money, isn't it? Accumulating wealth is about investments and 401Ks, right? Not about having more goats.
|Ziggy's 3 on left, Surprise and her twins on right. Introductions are always|
supervised. I especially don't trust Surprise. I saw her grab one of Lily's girls
by the head and give her a toss. Eventually everyone gets used to one another.
|Miracle meets Ziggy.|
One of our goals from the very beginning was that we would keep no more animals than our land can support. This is because we have a very strong sense of stewardship regarding both. We want both our land and our animals to flourish. We do not want to sacrifice the land for livestock. We do not want to run it down and wear it out.
|After introductory sniffs, Ziggy wasted no time in teaching Miracle a lesson|
about respecting her elders with a good swift butt, sending her off crying.
This implies balance. I admit we are still working this out and are constantly wondering how many animals we can keep. I'm not just referring to grazing, but to being able to grow everything our goats need to be healthy. This is why we invested in our soil by remineralizing. If we feed the soil we'll feed the plants. The plants will feed our animals and us. It makes so much more sense than trying to meet nutritional needs with purchased feed formulations and vitamin and mineral supplements.
|These two of Ziggy's triplets definitely show their Nigerian Dwarf genetics,|
being smaller than their sibling. I've taken to calling them Jack Rabbit (left),
for his ears and darting about, and Teddi Bear, because she has a fuzzy face.
Maintaining a balance means determining which goats to keep and which ones to cull. By cull, I don't automatically mean kill. Although we do eat homegrown goat meat, culling simply means selecting which ones to cut from the herd. Mostly I do this through sales and trades.
|Ziggy's first born. I call him Jump. Not because he|
jumps over, but because he jumps up to be petted.
Last winter was an important lesson because it was so cold. Our winter pasture and cold weather vegetables went dormant, leaving us to rely more on hay and purchased feed. I realized that I need to get down to a smaller winter herd every year. Sales and trades, however, require an interested party with whom to transact. When I tried to sell Hooper and Rosie I had only a few nibbles of interest.
|Lily and son, the middle born of her triplets.|
This was an important lesson too. If I don't want to keep too many goats over winter, I need to price them to sell quickly. The expense of feeding them all winter could obviously offset the few extra dollars I might get if I waited to sell them according to the prices set by our local market mindset.
|Lily's buckling. Still nameless, although I'm tempted to call him "Spot."|
The only thing that stops me is that it doesn't seem very imaginative, lol
That market mindset is a curious thing. It appears to be based on retail prices whether they are relevant or not. For example, have you ever noticed how thrift store prices go up whenever retail prices go up? That never made sense to me because everything thrift stores sell, they receive free, as donations. We could assume it has to do with their overhead is going up, but changes in utilities and rents take months or years to catch up with the rising cost of goods.
|Miracle, Surprise, Grace, and Ziggy.|
I've first noticed this with used looms. If I bought a new loom for $1000 and got 10 to 20 years of good use out if it, why is $2000 a good selling price? Yet this is common thinking amongst weavers. Or farm tractors. Why is a tractor which cost $1500 brand new 50 years ago, now worth $4000 when it isn't even running? And why does tacking "antique" or "vintage" onto it make it worth more? I know all this makes sense to some folks, but it doesn't to me. To me, the correlation between inflation and used goods is based on an artificial sense of value.
|Surprise, Grace, Ziggy, & Ziggy's triplets. The kids all sleep in sibling groups|
I finally realized that if I want to support my goats from my land, then it would be better to give them away before winter sets in, than feed them all winter because of some ethereal notion of what they're "worth." The bottom line is the health of my land, not making money from selling an occasional goat. In fact, I could easily overuse my land by waiting to make those few extra dollars from that goat. It could easily cost me more to rebuild my soil than what I thought that goat was "worth." On top of that, I can have the satisfaction of helping someone else. The tendency to price everything for "top dollar" leaves many of us making do without.
|Lily's first doeling. Maybe Dottie? Another unimaginative name!|
Back to goats. I initially followed that market mindset in setting prices for Hooper and Rosie. I priced them mid to low range based on what others were asking for their goats. Except no one was interested. All this goes back to a question I've written about before (see links below), how do we set value? By what the goat "ought" to be worth? By how much I've put into her?
|Lily's girls in front, Surprise's Miracle behind.|
I realize I'm probably not making sense to very many folks, but this is something that is often on my mind. The modern world says everything is about money. But it didn't used to be that way. There was a time when economics were seen in a different light, one based on land and and a sense of community.
|Meeting the older sisters, Zoey and Daisy. Zoey is one|
of Ziggy's triplets last year, Daisy is one of Lily's twins.
Okay, I'm almost out of kid pictures, so I guess I can quit talking. :)
Related posts and writings:
- Mindset: Key to Successful Homesteading?
- Contemplations of Value & Money
- Chapter 10, "Obstacles" in 5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead
|Ziggy, Lily, and their two sets of triplets|
Stewardship, Balance, and Market Mindset © April 2014