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119 articles in category Sustainability / Subscribe

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Like most things on the homestead, having goats around has been both a big change and a seamless incorporation into our day. In the same way that life and work and family intertwine to form our days, these goats have worked their way into our homestead.

In the morning, Daddy and Elijah and Annabelle head out to the milking stand while Mama and Ruthie make breakfast and Abram cares for the chickens. Afterward I strain the milk, pour some into my coffee, and jar the rest. (After trying a few straining methods, we’ve landed on this reusable coffee filter. It’s a one-time, no waste purchase and works very well for us.)

Abby is a vocal one, so we hear from her throughout the day when Daisy starts to wander or someone departs from visiting hours or she simply wants to be heard. Throughout the day someone heads their way to pet, play, or refill water. But her level of communication (ahem) means we never really forget that they are there. And that’s fine by me. I love watching the children interact with them and grow up with animal contact – for their physical as well as their mental well-being.

At the end of the day, right around (or after) dark, the milking crew heads back out again. This time Abram mans the milking stool next to Daddy and almost always the little ladies insist on trailing along while Mama gets supper on the table. And when they return we gather around the table, strain and jar the milk once again, and wash up the milk pail. Because first thing tomorrow, it happens all over again.

IMG_8929October 16, 2015

The broom weed is waste-high and their hands squeeze tight as I help the girls navigate through the tiny yellow flowers that breeze past their eyes. The mesquite leaves are beginning to cover the walkways, masking the cracks in the soil that I once thought only existed in faraway places.

We still pray for rain. The seedlings Abram and Daddy planted all died when we couldn’t spare the water. A check this morning of our elevated water tank concluded that 50 usable gallons remain before we will have to haul barrels from a neighbor. The ponds still have enough for a couple of weeks for the goats, chickens, and trees.

The garden gates are unwelcoming, for a change, as everything has been dead for some time. Even the okra is completely dried up and stripped of its foliage; the annual November sweet potato harvest will not be. It is this way every year, I tell myself, and remember the blackberries and mustard greens and black-eyed peas of early summer? There is talk of pursuing more animals… once another fence is built.

The chickens are starting to lay again as we creep into fall, though the near-100 degree days this past week remind me that summer likes to hold on here – or not, depending on the year.


The goats are settling into their new homes and seem more comfortable grazing around their picket lines. I bookend my days in the kitchen with milk filtering and pail-washing. We are now hay people and I can’t say I mind that sweet smell when I walk past the towering stack of square bales. It smells like summer at my grandparents’ farm and the kind of life I always thought felt real.

I am trying to ease the children back into a regular school schedule and had forgotten how tempting the bikes and homemade kites and never-ending birdhouse building is for one who is seven or nine. Multiplication and reading and handwriting seem important to me but there is this wonderful place called outside, mom.

Truth be told, I’d pretty much always choose outside too.