In our 4 years at the farm, we’ve definitely experienced loss, but today we’re experiencing something a little different. I just sold one of our animals for the first time, and I’m surprised by how similar the emotions are.
When we moved to the farm, we knew there would be losses. We inherited a flock of 15 chickens with the house, and they had dealt with recent deaths due to predators and poor health. On top of that, they had too many roosters for the flock size, so one of the first things that I googled was “what to do with extra roosters”. When I scrolled down and saw an article about a “killing cone”, Joe and looked at each other, wide-eyed, like “OMG. What are we getting ourselves into?!”
Once we moved in, we greatly reinforced the existing coop, bought a new (far more secure) coop, and then eventually built the giant coop/run that we now have. We managed to give away the spare rooster to the neighbors, so no killing cone was needed. Still, there have been deaths. Most were due to old age, but we’ve had a few losses due to predators too, and each one has been very sad.
Since we’ve dealt with these kinds of losses, I didn’t expect such sad feelings when I sold one of our llamas today. The reality is that we only wanted 1 llama for guarding, but we ended up with 2 because the llama that we loved also had a nursling, and it seemed wrong to separate them. Now that nursling is bigger than her mama, 3 years old, and ready to move to a flock of her own. Still, it’s hard!
I’m a member of a Shetland sheep Facebook group, and the topic recently came up about selling your sheep. I felt a bit relieved to see so many responses about feeling really sad when they go, even when it’s the right decision. One member said that they just try to remember how happy they were when they first brought home their sheep, and they remind themselves that they’re giving that feeling to someone else.
And on that note, the silver lining…. With one less (GIANT) grass eater, we’re starting to make room for lambing again next Spring. We have a few sheep to sell (that’s going to be even more sad!) but then we’ll be ready to welcome new life as well. (Bouncing baby lambs!) I guess this is just how the world works, isn’t it? There is death and loss… and there is new life and fresh beginnings. <3