Death on the Farm

Have you every wondered if animals know they are sick or dying? This has been a tough week for us. We lost two very nice boar goats two days apart for no apparent reason. One was Elvis which Karl wrote about here March 3, 2008 (picture on that site). Friday Freda, one of our donkeys was not feeling well. The next morning she was dead. I know that life is a circle and that all things growing and living today return to the earth to nuture the next cycle of life, but I still miss my animals when they die. Last year we lost Hooch the pig and Walker the sheep.

Some religions believe that animals are sacred and have souls, going to some pleasant place when they die. That is a nice thought and I hope its true. I envision it as a pasture that is always green and lush with large shade trees by a creek of fresh cool water. It still will not make me miss them in the pasture when I am there checking on the cattle and other animals. I kind of think that those left behind must know about the passing of a pasture mate and it surely must affect them in some way.

We have another donkey named Simone that was a gift to me by my children for Christmas years years ago. She is a marvelous donkey and I care for her very much. She and Freda were best friends and were seldom far apart. I know she must be at a great loss. I think I shall get her another friend in the next few weeks so she will not be so lonely. A new donkey will not make up for the loss of Freda, but it will make us feel a little bit better.

A few years ago we had an older cow have twin heifer calves. A day or so later she got sick. As the vet was working on her she dropped dead. Her two calves had to be bottle fed and never had the pleasure of being with their mom. It did not seem fair.

Some would say I am too emotional or attached to my animals, but as a farmer you can not help but be that way. Every day you see them, take care of them and are concerned about their well being. Time heals, but I will miss Elvis, Freda and I will miss the other unnamed goat just because his presence is no longer in the pasture. Its tough saying goodbye, even to an animal on the farm.

My Turn

Since February 2006, you have had the privilege of reading about our family farm, thoughts on life, and other interesting bits of information tossed in for good measure in Farmers Don’t Blog written by my son, Karl. While we still are a family farm, part of the family is moving on to bigger and better things. Karl leaves Daingerfield in June headed to medical school. He takes with him his lovely and talented wife Amber and the most beautiful granddaughter anyone has ever had, Kaya Star. We will be left with both physical memories of their time working and living here and a heart full of memories that we will always cherish will hold dear for as long as our aging minds allow.

We all know that change happens and we have to accept it. The very fact that Karl left his career to come to the farm to work with us, and while here married the love of his life and had his first child, makes the past several years more special than you can imagine. The projects he started, the fruit and berry farm, and the projects that failed, like sheep farming, all have a lasting effect on us. We will get used to their departure in time swallowing the memories of there being here in the change of seasons.

From this point forward, this blog may not be as interesting. I will do my best to share our life on the farm and whatever else I feel you may want or need to know.

It is now my turn.

Handing over the reins

Dear friends, family, and lurking Farmer's Don't Blog readers,

This is it... Karl's last regular blog. As many of you know I will be starting medical school in the fall. My family and I are in the process of moving to our new home. The berry season is raging, the summer farm workload is peaking... and I am skipping town.

It is not without a certain amount of sadness that I make this move. I've enjoyed my years here on the farm immensely and I've enjoyed sharing news of our progress through this blog. Somewhere along the way I found a different calling. My interest in nutrition turned into a passion for understanding all aspects of human health. I've learned a lot about caring for cows and goats on the farm, but I'm much more interested in caring for my closer relatives, Homo sapiens.

I'm proud of the products that our farm produces. Blueberries and blackberries are among the most healthy foods available and grassfed beef is the perfect foundation for a healthy diet. I firmly believe that if we ate a diet consistent with human genetic evolution, based on grassfed meats, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts that we would all add a little more life to our years.

Life on a farm offers a wonderful vantage point from which to observe the workings of nature. Now that we have cabins for rent you have the opportunity to spend a little more time at the farm observing the seasonal work involved in bringing food to your table. Unlike me, you also have the option of keeping your hands clean. One thing I have certainly learned is that there is always work to be done on a farm.

I've enjoyed my farm adventure but it is time to start a new one. Four years from now I hope to have a much greater understanding of human health. I'll report back as often as I can with news of the wonders and horrors of medical school.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments.

Thank you for your support of our farm.

- Karl