If we seem to tell you the trivial news each month - the limping baby goat, the latest elderly adopted labrador, the fat cats and their trophy mice - it's because laughing over light-hearted farm gossip and small endeavors like nursing Sunshine the baby goat is the best way to get through the physical and mental effort of the farm at this time of year. Almost all of the blue tag herd have had their babies. We milked the mothers by hand to save their colostrum milk for the babies, who were bottle-fed before they learnt to suckle on buckets with teats. Now we have to keep the babies warm and dry with plenty of play space, and can milk the mothers in the parlor, beginning the cycle of milking and cheesemaking that goes on for the rest of the year. Every action has to be on time, and carried out with care and respect for animals and staff.
This was Sunshine, who was born blind in one eye and could take only a few steps at a time. She got a lot of attention on the farm in her few days of life, because it was a joy to focus on a single happy event, like cuddling Sunshine outside in the sun, seeing her respond to the warmth and the bleats of the newborns outside in the nearby pen. But Sunshine didn't grow stronger, and died last week. It's hard for those who helped us with her care, but who weren't bound up in the day to day efforts of the farm and whose experience of her death was perhaps more upsetting because it wasn't balanced by farm work. Not all of our stories have a happy ending.