Keeping the dream alive....
I am going to be honest I really struggle with the winter. The cold, dark and wind really make me reevaluate why I have animals and what I do to take care of them. It is rare that once I get out in the barn or with the animals that I regret taking care of them, but ice, snow, mud, darkness, cold and loneliness are enough to make anyone's resolve weaken. That is when I step back and really evaluate my why?
When I think about my why it really comes down to the fact that animals not only are a hobby that I have enjoyed for my entire life, but they really are part of me. When I break this down my life would be completely different without my animals. From friends that I made in high school that still remain because we have common interests, to skills that I have had to learn dealing with the trials and tribulations of owning animals. One story in particular sticks out in my mind as extremely formative. It was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I really wanted to get into goats "seriously". I joined my local goat 4-H club, called nothing else than Goats 4 Goats. In this club during the summer months we had meetings outside with our goats where we learned valuable skills like hoof trimming, showmanship, goat medicine ect. My maternal grandmother was always supportive of my goat habit and would take me and her herd of unregistered "auction" goats to these meetings to learn and practice.
Well, it was at one of these meetings that we learned that in order to register our goats as Native on Appearance and show them at our local county fair they had to be tattooed. Learning this my Grandmother, wanting to allow me to show goats, dove head first into trying to get her goats registered as native on appearance alpines. I will say, navigating ADGA paperwork for the first time when you had no idea what airplane ears were yielded many rounds of mailings back and forth to ADGA. Finally, we approached getting the goats tattooed, and with the only knowledge my Grandmother had, she took me to a local tattoo parlor and told me to go in and ask if they tattooed goats..... Of course the tattoo shop laughed me out of the store, and we later learned that goats are tattooed on farm with a clamp or a pen. However, I will never forget that experience, and what it taught me....... Its O.K to be a little different and stay true to what you love even if others think you are a little crazy for it.
As I fast forward to today. I realize that animals are not simply something that I do, a hobby or even a business they are part of who I am. They have shaped me, my past, my experiences, my friends, my family and created some of the best memories that I could have asked for. Some days is is tough to get up early and put everyone including the animals before yourself, or days when I have shed more tears than I knew I had in my body for a sick, injured or dying animal, of course. But, the good always outweighs the bad, like when I have had a long difficult day and I can end it by sitting in the barn listening to my goats peacefully munch on hay. The goats give me solace, purpose, a sense of community and so many smiles and laughs.
So next time you are dreading heading out into the bone chilling wind to care for your animals think about your why and the future that these wonderful animals will provide for you. I know for myself I cannot wait to see what memories and adventures lie ahead. Take care and Happy Goating!