Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A bit of upsetting news

I was planning to write about the acorn harvest today, but that will just have to wait. After writing Tuesday's post, I checked some of the blogs I read, and I decided to check the blog for a family that bought a doe and a wether from us this spring. They were creating a sustainable homestead and were adding goats to create a home dairy. They already had chickens, rabbits, bees, and a garden.

Well, buried in a blog post it said that they no longer have goats, but they have goat meat in their freezer. There was no explanation. My brain did not even make the connection at first. I wondered where our goats had gone -- and where did they get goat meat? Then it clicked, and my stomach was turning inside out. They butchered the goats we sold them this spring? They butchered a $300, 25-pound, registered doeling out of my best milking line? Even the meat from the wether would be over-priced at $75 for the little guy, but seriously, who in their right mind would butcher a $300 doeling that could easily be resold? She was not even six months old. A yearling Shetland wether (sheep) only has a hanging weight of 25 pounds, and they're much meatier than dairy goats. Hanging weight on a young doe would be 10-15 pounds -- and that's not all meat. Even now my brain keeps thinking there has to be a mistake.

I know I'm supposed to be the hearty farm woman, right? I spent all day -- yes, all day -- thinking about this Tuesday, trying to tell myself that's just life. As another goat breeder said, you can't keep them all, and you can't control what happens to them after they leave. I know. But this is such a colossal waste of a goat that had so much potential as a family milker. Four families have been waiting six months to get goats from me, including a woman who is only 30 minutes from the family that had that doe. She would have gladly bought the doe from them, had they only told me they couldn't keep their goats any longer. I've turned away half a dozen more families that wanted goats this year, and I already have three families on next year's waiting list for goats that have not been conceived yet.

As you know, I'm not against eating animals that have lived a happy life, so I asked myself what is so upsetting about this. Obviously, I'm more attached to my goats than I realized, but beyond that -- it's a huge waste. Being sustainable means living a lifestyle that can sustain you. Eating $20-30 per pound goat meat is not sustainable. Killing an animal that could have provided thousands of pounds of milk over her lifetime is a waste. I had never even considered the possibility that someone would just decide to eat one of my goats one day, because they're too expensive to just eat. They're too valuable to be used for food.

I used to subscribe to the Flylady emails, and she always talked about getting rid of your clutter and anything that you don't absolutely love. By giving it away, you're allowing someone else to love it. As they say, one person's trash is another's treasure. It was the same thing with the goats. Even though they had become a burden to their current family, there was another family nearby that would have loved to have the doeling. It's not like the family that was faced with an $1,200 vet bill to get a c-section for a goat and decided to put her down. These people had real options. If only they had called me, I could have put them in touch with someone who would have bought her and loved her and appreciated the milk that she would have given them next spring.


SkippyMom said...

I am so sorry. I can feel your pain in this post.

You never know what led them to this; their situation obviously changed and they made their decision. They also put a different price on the life of a goat than you do.

I know it doesn't make sense and again, I am so sorry. I have to think if they had sold the goat to someone that would have yielded enough money to outweigh the meat they have in their freezer.

Maybe they didn't understand that or think they could sell the goat?

melanie said...

Maybe they traded? (Hopefully)

Claire MW said...

Goodness gracious, what were they thinking? What a tragic waste! I simply cannot fathom a reason. The pictures of her drive it home all the more. They could have easily bred her, used her male offspring for their freezer, and had milk, cheese, yogurt, and more.

I think all you can do is be relieved that this is by far not the usual fate for your goats, and that nearly all your buyers have a better grasp of the value of their purchases. Maybe you should consider adding a paragraph to your sales contract or whatever paperwork you might give about returning the goat if....

Tammy said...

So sorry this happened. I'm not a hearty farm woman when it comes to my critters. This is one of the reasons I'm considering getting out of the sheep biz. Not the sheep, but the dealing with people. They change like the wind and it's alarming to realize that what you thought was a solid mindset on someone was just a passing fancy. Again, sorry about this, and also the way you found out about it. I wonder if there was a possibility they were injured in some way (like a dog attack?) Such a waste.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so sad! I would have driven to get that goat! Fresh milk is like gold out here.

Dharmamama said...

I'm so sorry! I know that dog breeders can be VERY picky about whom they allow to adopt a dog, with numerous visits required, etc. I think you have the right to require the same for your goats! A signed statement saying they'll give the goat back, etc. *If* you want to go that route.

It reminded me of a Patti Digh post: or if that first one is too long.

Unknown said...

That was a terrible shock for you to find out that way. I can only hope there was another explanation.

Nancy in Iowa

Cricket said...

I think it also has something to do with respect and integrity. You sold the goats to people who would seemingly respect them and whose vision of self sustainability had integrity. Now it appears that they fooled you. Maybe the goats were traded. I hope so. Maybe the family is clueless. Maybe they just didn't have either respect or integrity. In any case, it is very sad if they did indeed eat a goat that had so much potential. I think it is also perhaps a sad commentary on the country in general; people can put on a lifestyle and discard it at will. Might as well get your goats at WalMart if that is the case.

Deborah Niemann said...

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, and thanks Dharmamama for that link. I also got a call yesterday from someone who is interested in buying the two little boys that were born a couple weeks ago. She seemed very concerned about whether or not they had spots. In the back of my brain, I kept thinking that if spots were her main concern, she shouldn't be getting a goat from me. A lady in a cat rescue once told me they got a call from someone who wanted a cat that would match their sofa.

BTW, I forgot to mention that I emailed them more than 24 hours ago asking what happened, and they have not responded. Their blog post said they no longer have goats "for a variety of reason," which pretty much rules out something catastrophic like a dog attack.

Christine said...

That's insane. What were they thinking?!

Michelle said...

I'm going to cross my fingers and toes that Melanie's idea is true; that they traded their beautiful little Nigerians for a couple of boer goats. Let us know if you ever hear from them! And I think a signed purchase agreeement with first right of refusal is a good idea, although you really can't enforce it.

Kristin said...

I'm so sorry about this. Sometimes I wonder how people can get through life thinking the way they do. This is ridiculous and selfish if they did butcher your precious goats. I know someone in the angora business who states that if the new owners can't take care of the bunnies for whatever reason that the breeder will take them back. There's also been some drama with my sister getting animals she can't take care of - makes me sick thinking about it. I think if she knew she could give the animals back to the owners she would have. Keep us posted. I hope Melanie and Michelle are right.


I am absolutely furious!! I cannot believe that these people who bought your goat (or was it goats?) think so little of life and of money that they killed your little doeling.

I agree you should have a contract that buyers must sign saying they will return a goat to you if they cannot or will not keep it.

Also you could retain partial ownership of each goat...say 10%. Let the new owner breed, milk or whatever and you will need no compensation as partial owner (in return for which you will not need to pay 10% of its keep.

I don't know. Right now I'm seeing red. I can understand a lack of knowledge, but stupidity by choise I cannot tolerate!

Why don't you give them a call? Or let me do it. I'll confront them and give them a punch in the nose if they smart off. Understand I'm 67 years old and 5' tall so I'm not much of a threat.

I think they were just plain wicked. Poor little goat, what did she do to deserve such an end. And the gall to write about it in a public forum.

Whew, now I feel better. I'm REALLY sorry for your loss.

Caprifool said...

I eat goat. And I'm fine with others eating goat. But for the right reason! A doeling? Never! Not when considering the amount of cheese she she represents. And the LOVE!

This is why I ALLWAYS tell my buyers to call me first, if the for some reason can not keep goats any more. I have enough of kidmeat in my freezer to even offer them the same amount the animal would bring if slaughtered in return.

This has happened to me once. I missjudged a buyer. And I'm still blaming myself for it.

Anonymous said...

I know it's upsetting to think the worst and it's possible it's true. BUT, without hearing it, I'd still wonder if they maybe traded them with someone who had meat goats and wanted dairy goats. There are a lot of people with meat goats who want dairy bred into their does for milk production for the meat kids so the doeling you sold may well be helping out on a meat goat farm supply milk for them and to raise some quality meat cross does.

I do hope you can find out the truth though so you have some peace in your heart or at least know the story. That will help you in the future with placing other quality doelings.

I wish you the best over this and I love your blog!

Deborah Niemann said...

They have still not responded to my email asking what happened. I would think that within five days, they could have taken a moment to write that the goats are happily living on another farm.

D. said...

I was sent your link by a friend and I just cried. I'm so sorry. WE have eaten a few goats but they were meat wethers and they were older with much more meat on them. I cannot even imagine eating a doe kid. I know that i would prefer to give one of my precious does away to someone who could and would care for it that to eat it. MY family would literally have to be starving to death. I'm heartbroken for you all.
CBFNigerians in NM

Deborah Niemann said...

Thanks, Deanna. You said it very well. We also would have to be literally starving to death before I'd even consider eating a doe kid.


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