Peyote is my Spirit Animal
There’s a bit of a baby boom happening on The Farmstead right now and, much to my shagrin, everyone is thriving!
Both my Old Spot sows, Run Spot and Lady MacBeth, gave birth to their first litters, a combined total of 21 polka dotted piglets, and have been excellent mothers not just in the way they are gentle with their own piglets but also in the way they are gentle with me. I loved the fierce protection the Tamworths exhibited as mothers but there’s something really sweet and amazing about the Old Spots and how they are just.so.trusting of me in their space. On top of this, my Old Spot boar, 2PorkShakur has taken his parental roles one step further than my Tamworth boar ever did. It’s not uncommon to find all 800 pounds of him tucked up under a tree with a whole smattering of polka dotted babies tucked into his various folds and creases.
I’ve also welcomed baby Narragansett turkeys onto the farm. The goal is, of course, Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ll be damned if they’re not the sweetest little turkeys. If, come Christmas, I have four giant turkey mascots running around I don’t want any judgment.
Speaking of additions of the feather variety…a tiny little flock of baby guinea hens arrived this weekend. I have had a terrible year for ticks and so, my plan is to raise them up and release them into my forest. If they end up driving me crazy I suppose I can always substitute a turkey dinner for a guinea hen dinner.
I also have a small flock of Freedom Rangers I’ll process out for meat and, because I just couldn’t say no, a small breeding flock of Silkies.
And speaking of breeding…my Cream Legbars are almost to laying age which means, hooray, I can officially start my Cream Legbar laying operation. I’ve really fallen in love with these birds. They have a quiet fanciness about them that speaks to me right now.
I would be remiss not to mention perhaps the most unanticipated celebratory birth this farm has ever seen. Many of you may remember Peyote, originally of Little Brown Farm (where about half of my dairy does are from). Peyote is a 50/50 Nubian/Nigerian but, because of a battle with a pretty heinous bovine disease brought on by a traveling vet, her growth has been forever stunted. She was brought to The Farmstead as nothing more than a mascot—destined to live her life out with friends. Last winter, while in the throes of a failed marriage and a very stressful dairy installation, Peyote broke her leg jumping off the milk stand. I tried desperately to save it, driving every other day for two weeks to the only vet in town who would treat a goat (and who also happened to be a good hour away from the farm). Finally the vet admitted that the leg was unsaveable and the only answer was amputation. And so I said yes. He told me that Peyote would most likely forever be affected by this injury and, there was a chance, she would get depressed.
That’s not what happened. Peyote approached having three legs just like she approaches every other challenge in her beautiful life—with a fierce tenacity, a sweet disposition, and a penchant for treats.
A week ago my wonder goat started to develop an udder. I started to get worried. If Peyote was bred I knew it was to a full size Nubian. I worried about her stunted body being able to carry a standard size goat. I worried about her being able to deliver with just three legs. I worried about her being able to nurse. Really, I just worried. After everything Peyote has been through,after everything we have been through, I was damned if I was going to lose her to an accidental pregnancy. I lined up a vet to be ready for an Emergency C-Section just to be safe. I waited.
I needn’t have worried. Gizmo and I were on hand for Peyote’s birth and it went like clockwork. She was beautifully calm and the babies, despite being 75% Nubian and 25% Nigerian, were appropriately sized for her body. I had to help her stand up after the exhaustion of birth, and supported her body for that initial nursing, but she took everything else in stride, just like she always has. I am often in awe of these animals but today Peyote blew me away.
Peyote, just like me, had a hard winter. A part of my soul died last year. I too was worried I would never be the same after the divorce. To say that I was blindsided by the end of my marriage is the understatement of the century.
It’s ironic really, now that I look back, I was fighting to save Peyote’s dead leg at the same time I was fighting to save an equally dead relationship. Both were futile. At the time I saw amputation as giving in just like I saw divorce as giving in. I was embarrassed for a really long time about my divorce. I had failed to keep my goat safe and I had failed to keep my marriage together.
That is until I finally realized.
It wasn’t my fault.
Sometimes relationships end. Sometimes people grow apart. Sometimes people fall out of love. Sometimes, just sometimes, the universe has better plans.
The level of happiness I have found post-divorce is, without a doubt, beyond any level of happiness I knew was possible. My divorce killed a piece of me, I am confident in that. But you know what? I don’t really miss that piece all that much. I’ve rebuilt my self-confidence and self-worth one day at a time. I’ve fallen in love with myself again. I know who I am now, better than I ever have. I know what I want. I know what I’m willing to settle for. I know what I’m not.
I’m not the same person I was two years ago and for that I am grateful. Peyote lost a leg last year and I lost a marriage. And yet, here we are today, our happy and healthy babies, and nothing but love.
I dare anyone to say that something is missing.