I often discount stressful experiences in my life. Like getting rid of our goats. I knew it was stressful, but I didn't realize how fatigued I would feel afterwards. I am also having trouble sleeping, and have had insomnia three nights in a row. It was so bad on Monday night that I ended up calling in sick to work on Tuesday. This morning I felt depressed and the last thing I wanted to do was go in to work but my boss depends on me quite heavily, so I made myself get up and get dressed, even though I had only four hours sleep.
We had goats for eight years. I wrote at the main ranch blog how we got into goats rather impulsively in February 2003. We didn't know anything about raw milk, but I soon learned the value of the white gold on a goat list I had joined. From there I first learned about and feared Nourishing Traditions (no, no, I can NEVER restrict my diet). I learned how difficult raw milk was to come by, and how some people were paying $20 a gallon for the nutrient rich liquid. I learned how raw milk is illegal in some states, and I felt very, very fortunate and thankful that we had our very own supply.
My husband loved the milk. He drank at least a quart every day. I happily made yogurt and kefir, mozzarella cheese, and vinegar cheese. I bought cultures for sour cream and aged cheeses. My sister discovered her young children were allergic to cow's milk, but flourished on our goat's milk. We sang the praises of our lovely raw goat's milk. For a short period of time my asthma symptoms disappeared and I was able to stop using my asthma medication. I happily told my asthma/allergy specialist of the good news, and he was intrigued stating that he had grown up in India and they always drank the milk raw.
Unfortunately that only lasted about four months. I began to have trouble breathing again and had to start taking my medication again. I wasn't about to give up any single food in my diet.
Then my husband was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January 2009. He had been bleeding for over a year at that point and he finally grew concerned enough to see a doctor, something he hadn't done in decades. He wanted to rule out cancer. The doctor told him it was U.C. and there was nothing that could be done, aside from using a steroid foam medication, and eating less red meat.
In November of 2009, my husband told me he was beginning to grow weary of the bleeding and he started to look into a vegetarian based diet. I knew this was not the right direction and had heard of this “GAPS Diet” on a traditional foods list I had been on for years. I decided to buy the books and you know what happened after that.
Well, in case you don't remember, I'll refresh your memory. Not only could my husband's condition be completely reversed and healed, I learned that GAPS could maybe help my depression and fatigue. And oh yeah, maybe I could avoid schizophrenia, a disease my father had recently been diagnosed with. My maternal grandmother had Alzheimer's the last ten years of her life; maybe I could forego that fate as well?
In the beginning my husband joined me on GAPS, just long enough to learn that our beloved raw goat's milk was causing most of his digestive distress. With great sadness he gave up the white gold that he loved.
I also learned that our wonderful raw milk exacerbated my asthma symptoms, so I stopped drinking our milk, too.
Then my mom could no longer buy the milk for my sister. Even though I told my mom I'd be willing to give it to them free, my sister stopped asking to have milk delivered (she doesn't drive and lives more than 60 miles away).
For awhile I gave most of the milk to the chickens. I figured… that much less commercial feed. That much less “vegetable based protein” (read: soy). They loved it.
Then my husband brought home two puppies that had been dumped in the area. Young animals thrive on goat's milk. We'd actually managed to keep cottontail bunnies alive and that's supposed to be almost impossible to do. Instead of letting the milk clabber and giving it to the chickens, now it went to the dogs. Hey, at least we didn't have a big hole on the back of our property where we dumped gallons of milk every day (yes, I knew of someone who did that and threw gallons of milk in that hole very day).
Then we got a horrible squeeze load of hay. The last squeeze load as a matter of fact. It was so stemmy that all the goats were picking through it daintily. Their yard piled up with eighteen inches of stems that they refused to eat. We were having to feed an entire bale of hay daily. One bale should have lasted four days.
All my milkers dropped in their milk production.
I had been getting almost one gallon a day, soon I was getting less than six cups. I was spending time every day milking, and no one was drinking the milk. Yes, the dogs were drinking the milk. But no humans were benefiting. I grew weary. My husband and son had grown weary many years ago. I grew more weary. I started to wear down.
I want to reintroduce fermented dairy in September.
Now I will have to find a source for raw goat's milk. Now instead of being a “farmer” I will need to be dependent on a farmer.
That really makes me sad.
I knew about our milk. I knew how it was processed. I knew that my girls did not have subclinical mastitis. I did not feed soy or corn, although they did get oats and barley at milking. I knew how quickly the milk was chilled.
Now I don't have that option.
Yesterday I watered the chickens and it is difficult to see the empty pens. The goats watched me a lot and talked to me. They greeted me as soon as I walked out the back door onto the porch. They called to me when it was time to be milked.
This morning my goat mentor emailed a response and put into words what I had been unable to: She said there is a hole in my life where the goats used to be.
That brought fresh tears to my eyes.
Today as I arrived at home, it was so quiet. It is still hard to look at the empty pens. It's hard to explain. It's like my mind can't accept that they are gone. There used to be animals there. My milkers. But now they are gone.
I pray I can sleep tonight. I need to make dinner and clean the kitchen. Put my time to good use.
As each day goes by I feel better. And more confident that we made the correct decision. It is just hard right now. And stressful.