You Have to be Brave to Raise Livestock

Two weeks ago was a tough week on the farm. We lost 3 animals in the span of 3 days, and that…. that was really hard.

I’ve been raising livestock for 13 years, and have had animals since the day I was born. And, throughout that time, there has been loss. It comes with the territory. Some of those losses have impacted me more than others, but no matter what animal it is, it never gets easier.

The other week we lost two goats- Tres and Nala, and our barn cat- Sassy. Tres was unexpected. She was fine one day, and gone the next.


Nala, lost her battle to a raging infection, despite 3 visits to the vet, several antibiotics, and meds to control the fever.


Sassy was 13 years old, and we knew his time was drawing near. He lived his last days as a house cat.

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Nala was the the third one to go, and at that point, I was ready to throw up my hands. It was entirely frustrating and emotional. You work so hard to keep these animals healthy. When they get sick, you do everything you can to make them better, and sometimes it isn’t good enough. When your best isn’t good enough, that can cut deep.

Nala went into premature labor. Not only that, but the baby was not in the proper position. After trying for 40 minutes to realign the baby, we decided that we couldn’t do it. We knew the baby was already dead, so we loaded Nala up to go to the vet. Those vets worked for more than an hour to deliver that fetus. Everyone was tired, especially Nala. She was registering a temperature of 105. The next few days was a series of banamine for the fever, antibiotics for the infection, oxytocin for a retained placenta, and more trips to the vet. We were hoping that it would clear up. We were hoping that we could try again for a baby next year, but it wasn’t meant to be. Nala was my best doe. I was the most excited for her baby. It would be her first and the first off our new buck. I put a lot of hopes and dreams into them, and it went up in smoke.

When you raise livestock, they have a purpose. It may be for breeding stock; it may be for showing; it may just be to go to market. Whatever the purpose, you put hopes into that animal. Sometimes you get your hopes up.

Losing an animal isn’t about the money spent at the vet. It isn’t about the money lost in the investment of the animal. It isn’t about having to dig a hole. It is about heart. I may not shed a tear for every animal that dies, but they all hit me. They all are a life, and that affects my heart. It doesn’t matter how many animals you have, or the scale of your farm.

I recently heard a story of a hog farm that had the PED virus. This virus caused 100% mortality in baby pigs. Although there are thousands of pigs in those barns, the farmers wept. Not because they were losing dollars, but because that life was gone, and that was devastating. The hope and potential of that animal was gone. Their best efforts weren’t always good enough.

After hearing that story and thinking of my week last week, one word came to mind-bravery. Raising animals takes bravery. You have to be brave to put hope and dreams into an animal that does not have a 100% guarantee. Even if it has a totally healthy life, the lifespan of animals is not the same as ours. You are choosing to love and care for a ticking time bomb. When that animal does pass away, it takes bravery to continue. You have to be brave to care for another animal.

When I was on the third day of losing an animal, I wanted to walk away. I didn’t want to put expectations or hopes into yet another animal that might not make it, but then… then I saw the other side of the spectrum. I saw little Pluto, only a week old, braving the cold weather to explore his world, and I smiled.







Raising livestock is hard. It is frustrating. There are tears. There are also smiles, joy, and heart. Raising livestock takes bravery. In spite of loss, in spite of sadness, I choose bravery and to hope once more in an animal, because that is what it is all about.



NC State Fair: Part 2–Goats

For 13 years, we have packed the trailer full of goats to take to the State Fair. In 2015, we maintained our habits, and packed the trailer with goats.Back in our hay day (no pun intended), Alec and I would have 12 goats between us at the fair. We have since downsized our goat herd, but always have something to bring. This year we brought 7 does. Unfortunately, we only showed 6 because Nala decided to lose too many teeth prematurely, making her ineligible to show. Does have to have a certain amount of baby teeth, indicating they are under 2 years of age to show. Nala was indeed under 2, but her teeth told another story. Oh well! She didn’t have to get a bath.

Because Alec had classes, only Isaac, Gideon, and I showed. Of course, Mom and Dad were there too. Our first order of business was to clean-up the girls. Everyone got baths, blow dryed, clipped, brushed, and polished. It takes several hours to do 6 goats. Can you imagine the time it used to take to do 12!







DSC_0867Fitting involves a lot of detail from head to toe, and yes, even the butts. We get up close and personal!




DSC_0853As you can see from these pictures, fitting is a team effort. Over the years, the boys have taken on more and more responsibility.  At first they couldn’t exactly wield the clippers. The goats would be a hack job. They have always brushed, washed, and blow-dryed though. Now, they are trimming hooves, clipping, and more. I love watching this progression! Before too long I can just supervise and sit back–not really. I like to be hands-on.

Show time rolled around and started with novice showmanship.My boys did so good in their classes, and were clearly the most handsome 🙂








It was my last year in the ring with goats. I still don’t think that has registered. It will next year when I’m on the outside looking in. I got to show the smallest goats (poor planning) which were Miracle and Tres. Miracle was a terd outside of the ring, jumping and rearing up. I think she was mad that she had to be on a collar like all the other goats. Yes, Miracle, you are a goat. In the ring, she did great except for gnawing on my thumb the ENTIRE time. Hey, whatever makes her happy and stand still. Tres surprised us all and got 4th! I get super excited when anything we raise on our farm gets in top 5 of a class. I can also say, that she was a dream. Sure she was a little goat for me to show, but daggum if she did not stand there without moving and walked perfectly despite being worked with once.


DSC_0998Clearly, I have the serial killer look down when showing. I promise I’m having loads of fun. I just like to concentrate.


And, look who decided to show up.


DSC_0976For those of you who know Garrett, you know he’s a pig guy. He is not fond of goats, but he came to cheer and help anyways. 🙂

All in all, it was a great day finished off with some spectacular fair food…again. If you ever want to see french fries disappear like a Houdini act, then you should watch us at 8 o’clock, still showing goats, wolf them down to tide us over. No worries, we later got fried pickles and jalapeno, pimento cheese, hush-puppies with sriracha sauce. Holy lanta!

Don’t forget, there is still one more part to the fair–sheep!

Giant Jenga and a Farm Visit

One of my favorite things to do is share agriculture with others (I’m sure it is in no way obvious), especially kids. This past week, we had a passel of kids come out and visit the farm, and it was a blast!

Mom’s 4-H club came out for their end of the year party. We had a ton of games for them to play like giant Jenga, lawn Twister, Kerplunk, giant tic-tac-toe, corn hole, washer toss, horseshoes, pick-up sticks, and even a fossil dig! We also set up an archery station and hay ride. While it was a lot of work making all of the games, it was also a lot of fun. We went through a ton of spray paint and hot glue. We also may or may not have used chainsaws, battled mosquitoes, and gotten sunburnt while preparing for the big day. It looked great in the end, if I do say so myself.

The games were ready, but we were inviting the group to a farm. It only makes sense to introduce them to a bit of farm life. We penned up a few of the more friendly animals and the babies for the kids (and parents) to interact with. Minus Dodger, all the animals behaved. Dodger was nice to the people, but he has jealousy issues and did not want to share the attention. Since he decided to be a bully to the other animals, I tied him up outside the pen beside me.

The day ended up being a great success. Some of the kids had never been on a farm before, so that was really special to have them experience farm life. I watched some kids walk into the pen, very hesitant and somewhat nervous, but by the end of the day, they were going in there and catching the goats all on their own. They cracked up at the goats nibbling their clothes and even fed the animals treats. Many questions were asked, and it was so fun to answer them. Garrett even brought pigs from his farm to let the kids see and touch. All in all, the kids were able to interact with a donkey, goats, sheep, and pigs.

I think it is so important to share agriculture and farm life with others. When only 2% of the population live on farms, many do not get to experience what it is like. Sure, they didn’t learn what it is like to shovel manure, give shots, or trim hooves, but they did get to have a hands-on experience with livestock and learn a bit too. To me, that is what it is all about. Take a look at some more pictures from the day, and if anyone wants to come back out, especially to learn the dirty side of farming, then come on!




sheep and abswing


petting mhorseshoes

abby pighay ride

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day

The other night, the family and I watched Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and today, I felt like I was in that movie just a bit.

20150216_193432I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised today happened the way it did. I mean it is Monday. In the midst of the string of events, I found myself laughing, though. I think I laughed because it felt better than to cry. I hope you too, may laugh at the events that follow during the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day.

Turn on the heat…

Currently all my reasons for living in the South in terms of weather have been shot to pieces. It is below freezing, and all water troughs have 2 inches of ice. That means that we are chopping ice with an ax and supplying heat lamps and knee high bedding for everyone. Farm chores can be rough in warm temperatures. They become a bit more difficult when Jack Frost is biting you. However, I will say that cleaning frozen pig poop, is a bit less messy than normal.




North Carolina is in one of the coldest weeks of the year, and of course, Lulu decides she wants to have babies during this unusual cold snap. As we went to feed the older group of goats, we were greeted by the sound of bleats from two kids. Lu had kidded sometime during the early morning hours, birthing a girl and a boy.

lulu fam

isaac kid

gid kid

While she had done a good job drying them off, they were still understandably cold. We quickly set up a heat lamp andpiled thick bedding in an individual shelter for the new mom and babies. This was easier said than done though. Finagling drop cords and cleaning hulk sized cob webs were in order. We also had to weigh the babies and put iodine on their umbilical cords. We use iodine to prevent any infection or the potential navel ill disease. They weighed 9.5 pounds each, which is a good size for baby goats.





However, even with a good body weight, the little girl was weak and was not terribly interested in nursing. Throughout the day, we kept checking on her… in the midst of other “exciting” events.

Niagara Falls

After lunch, I went back outside to check on the little ones. When I stepped out of the door, I heard water… a lot of it. I started looking around, thinking that one of the sheep was having one heck of a pee break. Sadly, we were not that fortunate. There at the barn, was a regular Niagara Falls.



The pipeline had burst with the cold temperatures, despite being insulated. I ran out there in my slippers, but quickly traded those in for muck boots when I saw how deep the water was. I called Daddy to ask him which valve I should turn to cut the water off. The valve was under water, though, and I couldn’t see it. I got a bucket and began to bail the water out, but it refilled faster than I was emptying. Dad told me to run to the front yard and cut off the whole property’s water. This finally stopped the water. I called Mom to tell her that she had no water at the house, but I had things under control. I ran back to the barn to start bailing water again. Finally, I found the valve. My hands were blue and frozen from being in the water, and now the valve was stuck. I found pliers and used those. After breaking the tab on the valve, I finally got it turned off just as Alec and Papa drove up to help.

I left them to investigate the split pipe, while I went to hang another heat lamp for the goats. Where one crisis ends, another begins…

The Mailbox Murder

As I was walking back to the barn, I heard a BOOM! I heard Papa yell that a guy had just taken out our mailbox. Two farmers who were hauling large pieces of equipment had just passed our house and clipped our mailbox. I asked Alec to go and talk to them. When he approached them, he asked if their equipment was OK. They said it was. Alec then told them that they did a number on our mailbox. They looked past him and looked wide-eyed at the damage. They didn’t even know it had happened. One of the farmers went on his way, while the other came back to investigate the damage. He believed that the other guy had done it, but paid us for the damage anyway. He jokingly told Alec that if he heard of a commotion in Harnett County, he knew it was about him trying to get his money back from the other guy. Oh lanta!



Seeing Stars

Sometime during trying to tend to the new babies, Mom and Grandma were breaking ice in another pasture. Somehow the sheep got out and Grandma went to chasing them. Mom is asking Grandma to stop chasing the sheep, telling the dog to get the sheep, and trying to keep the rogue little buck inside the pasture as he rams the gate. After much chasing, the sheep finally were returned to where they belonged. As Mom was fastening the gate, the buck rams the gate one last hard time. The gate hits Mom in the head, and she literally saw stars. It was just one more aspect of the day.

On the Brink

After a nice dinner of taco soup, I went to check on the kids another time. Lulu and the little boy looked fine, but the little girl was not doing good. In fact, I thought she was dead when I got there. Even though, she was in the shelter and in the rays of the heat lamp, she was so cold. I decided to carry her in the house. Honestly, I didn’t expect her to even make it from outside to the house, but she did. I started warming her up with a hair dryer and towels. Her internal temperature would not rise, though. Daddy and I decided to tube feed her, in hopes of A) getting some nourishment in her and B) get some warmth to her insides.


After accomplishing that feat, we ran a warm bath in the sink for her. This did the most good in warming her up, and she actually started to kick a bit. All of a sudden though, she seemed to stop breathing and became non-responsive. We thought we had lost her. Taking her out of the sink, we wrapped her in a towel, only to have her take another deep breath. She was still alive. Currently, she is sitting in my bathroom with a heater on her, sleeping. I have low expectations of her living through the night, but so far she keeps proving me wrong.

Ice, Ice Baby

Now, as I sit at the kitchen table, looking at the end of this Monday, the ice is coming down outside. All the animals are tucked neatly in their bedding and heat lamps, and I am exhausted. Despite it being a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Farm Day, I am thankful for moments of laughter, the teamwork exhibited by my family, and a warm home. In the end, some days on the farm are hard, and others are fun, but they are all worth it. I’m sure we will all look back and laugh at this crazy day.