Summer camp has commenced for our lovely goats. The Bibbed Wonder informed me this morning that our herd has fifty-five goats. Twenty-two girls and their babies remain here at the farm, and thirty-three have gone to our friends, the Spences. The Spences raise beef cattle and have acres of pasture fields filled with brush, brambles, and weeds the cows don’t find appetizing. Each summer, our girls and boys go to the Spence farm to clear the pasture fields of brush. This arrangement has worked well for both the Spences and us.
Our pastures have time to refresh and return from our goat herd; most importantly, it helps keep the parasite load low. The girls and boys return from the Spence farm every fall fat, shiny and healthy. Our girls who remain at the farm have ample foraging and room to roam. It is a win-win for all involved. As long as the Spence family is happy to host our girls and boys, we will continue to take our herd to summer camp to enjoy foraging the fields and act as a brush crew.
We don’t just take our goats to the Spence farm and dump them off. Every few weeks, we check on their overall health, ensure their feet are in good shape, check for parasites, and ensure everyone is healthy and safe. Not only do we keep an eye on the goats, but the Spences do as well. The Spences spend time with the goats daily, keeping us updated with the herd’s well-being. Jerry or Kate, call us immediately if anyone appears slightly off. It has been a great arrangement, and we appreciate the opportunity to take the girls and boys to the Spence farm.
I learned early on that the farming community is a supportive network of like-minded individuals who love the land and animals. I can’t emphasize enough, buy local, know your farmer, know their practices, and do all you can to support small family farms. In my experience, our local farm community has a lot to offer. Those I consider part of my circle care for their animals and go above and beyond to ensure their well-being, comfort, and safety. How animals are treated is an important factor for me.
We love our girls and boys. When I call our goats and pigs our barnyard family, I am not romanticizing. We genuinely care for our animals and value what they bring to our lives. Our dairy girls offer us an opportunity to work together as a family from a place that holds significance to my family. How blessed I am to rear my daughter in the place my dad loved the most does not escape me. Jordan will be the fourth generation of Tonkins to live on this land. My hope is that her children and her children’s children have the opportunity to live and work here as well.
I also hope that future generations have the opportunity to work together as a small, tight-knit farming community to improve the land and our community. Without the support of our farm community, we couldn’t do what we love. On this hazy Wednesday, stay safe, be smart, appreciate those who make up your community, and keep washing your hands.