Yesterday was a bittersweet farm day. It was a perfect weather day, mild without a hint of humidity. Thanks to a new farm skill, the headgate was repaired and the frame of the shade shelter was completed. The Buckeyes were moved to a new paddock in the orchard and the temporary fencing surrounding the orchard was tightened up in anticipation of moving the sheep and cows in for clean up duty. Yesterday was also the day that Penny was picked by our butcher. The goat paddock has the chute that we use for loading and with long gates from around the farm we can build a smaller paddock. We were able to move Penny into the loading area without incident. When it came time for loading, our never the leader cow was very reluctant to go up the chute. It was strange for her, especially with Murphy (mini-donkey in charge of the cows) running around frantically. The usually mild Penny banged the gates and finally followed me to the trailer with out butcher following her up the chute.
By definition having a farm with animals, not a preserve, means that butchering day must come. I am responsible for deciding when that day comes. During their time on my farm, I plan for the health and contentment of my animals. Following the advice of an experienced farmer, I watch my animals every day, looking for any changes in behavior that would indicate a need to change my managment of the herd and flocks. These two seemingly contradictory roles shadow an otherwise perfect day.