Voluntary simplicity, the homestead edition


Keeping farm animals is a full-time job.

Even when it's only your hobby.

It's a day-and-night 24/7-365 gig. Like having a dog. Or more accurately (in our case) twenty-seven dogs. It's a tiny bit like parenting, except it's an opt-in/opt-out arrangement.

And we knew all of this going in. In theory anyway.

We knew that homesteading doesn't stop or lessen because you have the flu or because you want to go on vacation or because there's a flood or a blizzard a driving freezing rain. Often it just amps up under these conditions. There are no breaks, no vacations, no days off.

But four years ago this was the life that we wanted. We were all in.


And then ever so slowly, so subtly, life changed.

Sage was ten when we moved here; Lupine had just turned six. But today they're different people. And in a way, I suppose, so are we.

And what made sense four years ago started to make less and less sense today. 


I love these goats. I really do. 

And that made our decision that much more difficult. But we realize that we were trading family time for farm time. And childhood felt like something that was slipping through our fingers. How finite it is felt more and more clear.


And so last week we made the difficult decision to re-home our goats.

We still have too many sheep, a couple of cows, some rabbits, and an unreasonable number of chickens and quail. But the goats were more fragile and required a lot more attention than our other more hardy animals.

And honestly, they were the greatest source of worry for me. Births were harder, finding adequate pasture for them to stay healthy on was harder, keeping them alive and strong was harder. And my love for them was deeper so the stakes were that much higher.

Which meant deciding to let them go was that much harder, too.

If you've never made friends with a goat, know that they are hands-down the friendliest farm animal you'll ever meet. (There is a reason we could never bring ourselves to butcher a single one.) And because of this our goats became our pets, and a herd of pets on top of everything else – well, it proved to be just a little too much.

And so our decision was made. 


And then on Sunday, just like that, they were gone.

Before they were picked up I went to the barn to be with them one last time. To apologize. To have one last round of goat snuggles. To tell them I loved them and I was so glad for the years that we have shared.

Births, deaths, milking, mischief. So much love for these animals.

And then it was over. As quickly as it had begun.


Are we done with goats? No, I can't imagine we are. But we're putting family before farm at the moment, because that's what feels right right now. After Sage is grown I imagine that Lupine, Pete, and I may decide to raise goats again. Because this girl love her goats, and is the best goat midwife I've ever known. 


But even she was ready.

Ready to say goodbye to goats so that our family can have more time together. We're downsizing our flock of sheep as well, back to what we intended all along – a small fiber flock, with a few lambs to help feed our family each year.

It's voluntary simplicity, the homestead edition. Choosing family over farm.

I think it's the best decision we could have made. But it certainly wasn't the easiest.

Not by miles.


As it turns out this farming thing doesn't even get easy when you choose for it to end.  


Please be gentle and kind with your comments today, friends. This is very tender for me right now. Thank you for understanding.



18 thoughts on “Voluntary simplicity, the homestead edition

  1. Val says:

    It’s very hard to make choices like this. And sometimes even harder to realize that you need to make that choice. I’m sure we’re all proud of you for being able to have the insight to know this will be the best for everyone.

  2. Erin says:

    Farm hugs to you all. We recently made the decision to re-home our Jersey cow. We will be getting a few dairy goats in place of her, but saying goodbye to our Bess is something I’m not looking forward to. Even on the days she is being annoying, jumping ditches, holding her milk up, unlocking gates… She is still a part of our family and my heart will ache when she leaves us in another month or so.

  3. Rb bowers says:

    We just opted out of breeding our goats. We reduced the herd to 4 pets hoping that will free me up more. This was exceptionally hard because we are new to this and just were getting into the swing if it all, but midswing I knew it was eating up family time, and so much worry. I was in the middle of bringing in new bucks to raise for breeding, in the middle of birthing, in the middle of planning our future herd, but my kids weren’t there as I had hoped, they love the goats, just not the minutiae. So I stepped back. So hard to do! But I know it is a better direction of my time to raise my home schooled children right now. There will be years after they are grown to find a working herd again for myself. Sending you light in the choices and changes!

  4. Kristina says:

    I’m a little tear eyed reading this. I know what a hard decision this was. How hard it will be going forward. We made the decision when we moved to move into town. What a decision. It is the very best thing we could have done for our family at this time. Our boys needed the freedom of movement and the autonomy that living in town could provide them, but I sorely miss having chickens.

    I, too, want to homestead. Yet, I have so many other things that I also want. I want my children to have the opportunity to truly explore the land that we’ve moved to, to camp for weeks on end in this beautiful country. If I have a homestead to look after, that makes it so much more difficult. Gary and I are planning to attend graduate school after our youngest graduates from high school in 5 years. Do we buy a homestead with the full knowledge that we won’t be able to stay here when we go to graduate school? Do we get fiber and milk animals knowing that our children (and we) love to travel? We’ve made the very hard decision to not do that at this time. Gary and I want to study abroad in a couple years after the middle is done with high school but the youngest is still in high school. What does that look like? It certainly doesn’t look like having a mortgage and farm to run.

    So, we wait in our seasons. We take each season as it comes, and let go of the season that came before. Love to you all.

  5. Kim says:

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to have goats in your life. So painful saying goodbye even when the decision is the right one for you. Modeling taking stock and adjusting course is so much easier said than done. Kudos to you for the grace and courage it takes for all of you to make mindful life decisions.

  6. Steph says:

    We just decided to not add goats to our little farm, though it was always the plan. With homeschooling, activities, sheep, ducks and chickens my kids feel like they have enough to do and I won’t add to their burden of chores. I so hear you today on this post. We also do like to travel when we can and sheep are much easier (and less crafty) for our farm sitter to cope with.

  7. Jeanette says:

    I hear you….I feel you. We stepped back from our chickens last Fall. It was the right decision for what we needed and I knew we would be picking them back up again sometime this spring but oh man….watching them go. *sniff*
    We are downsizing too, re-evaluating and making adjustments. Such is life right? nothing stays the same…things move and flow and we have to flow along with it and not get mired down. much love mama!

  8. erin says:

    we did the same with our goats last year. having a small farm was always my dream, and then suddenly my dream was realized, and i came to the decision that i actually wasn’t ready yet. there’s too much going on with homeschooling my kids and wanting to travel. managing farmlife is still on my list, it just isn’t my “today” list. i’m even considering doing the same with my (60!) chickens. we’ve had chickens for over 10 years, so that will be quite a change for us if it comes to fruition.

  9. Kelly Sage says:

    I am also in the place of needing to let go. Even when something is good, it’s not always a good time. Glad you’re able to make the space and time your family wants and needs.

Leave a Reply