I finally gave up trying to sleep at 4 a.m. this morning, worrying about hay and goats and weather. Of course I woke my husband to get his opinion and, to be fair to him, he was a good sport about it. He got up and made us tea while I worked through the business plan again, sans our own hay.
I couldn't make it work.
My creative solution? I called Kevin and Lynn, who own the goatling, and together we decided that the goats would stay with them for another year.
I haven't given up on goats, but I've had to concede defeat this year in the face of our hay crisis. Lyn has more than generously offered her herd for me to come and practice on, so I can get my goat fix and gain experience at the same time. When it comes to livestock, goat people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
It feels like a setback in some ways, but it's a mature business decision too. I really want a goat to pet and milk (that's not the mature part of the decision), but I really don't want to fall out with my bank manager over an overdraft either. (That is.)
The local farmers gave us advice on our grass, and we found someone willing to bale it and take it away. He's spending time and money of a crop of poor fodder with limited feed value, but hay will be short this year and he can feed it to calves. We get the long wet grass off our field so the new shoots can regrow, and we can overwinter our expanding flock of sheep there. It's not a perfect solution, but it is good enough.
We're still left with having to purchase hay to feed our sheep and horses this year, but, with the money I've had returned from the goat purchase, plus another gardening job, and if I shoot some extra deer which are plentiful, then I can keep the bank manager from the door.
Among all this worry, a bouquet of roses was delivered to the door. Mike nominated me for an award given to gamekeepers' wives and apparently I was the runner up - hence a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I am honoured to even be considered for the award, and therefore feel kind of guilty wondering what feed value a bouquet of roses might have for a milk goat.