The week before Christmas the last of our livestock left. Our milking cow Missy and her calf Peggy, along with Clara, who was to become our second milker in Autumn when she would give birth to her first calf.It's such an odd feeling, being down to only the chickens, and of course the dogs. All of the paddocks sit empty and silent. The gates lie open and the troughs are bone dry.
It wasn't something I wanted to do, but knew that I had to. You know that feeling you get when you're making a hard decision, but you undeniably know that you're doing the right thing? It's unmistakable.
I had to stop myself from crying in the supermarket late last week when I put a bottle of cream into the trolley. I was surprised that cream was what brought my tears, as I hadn't shed any since after we decided to sell them. I'm not a great cryer, which might lead some people to think you don't feel things as much, but it isn't true.
Obviously, it goes without saying, I miss the cows for their actual selves - their personalities, who they were. It would be impossible not to share a bond with an animal you milk every day, and whose milk nourishes you. But the sadness that comes with the cows leaving is deeper. It's been a year of letting go - first of the sheep, then the stud cattle, and now the trio of cows closest to my heart. And with all of them went the plans for the future, the lambs and calves to look forward to, and the hopes and dreams we had tied up around them.
I've written here before about the joy I've felt milking Missy, the realisation of one of my biggest dreams. All of that is gone now, and while some days I feel I haven't the heart to dream of it all again, most of the time that little flicker of hope is burning, even if I don't consciously realise it.
Missy, Peggy and Clara couldn't have found a better home. Their new family are kind, gentle, loving and so grateful to have them. They were excited to collect them and understanding of the emotion attached to their going. And they were patient with them, which I believe is a huge indicator of how a person will treat and respect an animal. They were even patient while I coaxed Missy up the ramp into the truck, on a halter (a first for everyone present I believe!), followed by Clara. Our milking cows have zero flight zone so it was the only way to get them up the ramp. Spunky Peggy went up by herself, being the curious teenager she is.
It's a new chapter for Say! Little Hen, too. Obviously there won't be any home grown milk type of posts any time soon, just as the sale of the other animals months ago meant a slight change in content. If that's what you were here for, there are still plenty of them in the archives. And I'll still be writing about the chickens, but there won't be any other farm photos or stories to share any more.
I'm very much an embrace what comes in your life type of person. Trying to fight things beyond our control only causes frustration and misery. So I'm going with the flow, and remembering that once upon a time I never imagined I'd want to own sheep, or that we would, and so there could be a whole heap of new adventures in the future that I don't even know a whisper about yet.
The cows have found a wonderful home, and all things happen for a reason. And a good reason, too.
New year, new chapter, new adventures - I'm so ready for you.
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