I may not look like Laura Ingells Wilder, but I tell you what, I sure have always dreamt of being her my entire life! I’m Tonya and I run The Wild Carrot Farmstead!
I am a business owner, artist, farmer, homesteading mama of six children-and we are a tribal registered, Native American family of eight!
We believe in preserving tradition by working hard, living simply, taking it slow, and not being afraid to live against-the-grain of society out here on our Missouri farmstead!
I put my degree in holistic health science to use, often, with our natural, sustainable skincare line featuring goat milk, farm-raised and foraged medicinal plants, and hand-rendered tallows.
I just wanted to share how sad I felt that day. Our first goat, Druzy, had her babies sometime in the night, on Super Bowl Sunday-five days earlier than we thought-and they were both dead. Perfectly formed. Beautiful. Twins.
I felt like I let her down and like it was completely my fault. That tends to be my go-to response. Wanting to take the burden on myself, trying to protect everyone else from feeling any negative feelings of guilt or shame. I want it all. Because I can control my own emotions. I can’t control others’. Dysfunctional, I know.
More Farm Baby Losses
But here we were, again. Barely healed from losing our first mini-zebu calf a couple weeks prior (a story for another time). And we were all very excited for our first born goat kids on the farm! The fact that we even exposed Druzy (our Nigerian Dwarf doe) at the right time to Moonstone (our Nigerian Dwarf buck) and I meticulously recorded everything, was nothing short of amazing! I counted out the five months to the day. Fed her the best. And loved her like a child! Eagerly awaiting five long, excruciating months to see what all this love and care and time created!
All to come out to the barn, on a Monday morning, to hear Jason (my husband) go, “Damnit Druzy”. I ran to the barn, to find my sweet husband, carefully holding two precious, lifeless twins in his hands.
Coping with Farm Loss
All the feelings rushed back from just having suffered another loss. Regret, shame, pain, emptiness, guilt, anger, sadness, and all the would haves, should haves, and could haves knocked my heart into my throat. Jason rushed off to the shop to get his emotions in order, before he had to go do a large remodel project.
These are things farmers don’t seem to talk about so much. Or at least us City folks don’t hear much about. We see pictures of farm babies. Watch shows about them. We have our preconceived notions about the healthy pregnancies, ending with adorable fuzzy, bouncing, farm babies and happy, attentive mothers, licking and nursing their new little pride and joy.
We don’t hear about all of the loss that surrounds the miracle of one life. How lots of tragedy happens, daily, on a farm. From predator attacks, fencing issues, to friends’ goats being strangled to death by their collar on a feeder. Or, finding precious, would-have-been-fine, twin baby goats, perished, right before you have to go to the city to work. So, I had questions! Like usual!
How do you suffer the loss of any animal on the farm and feel ok to keep going? Don’t farmers feel sad when that happens? Has it ever happened to experienced farmers? Or just me, who is taking the farm life by the horns and learning as I go? Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Am I causing more harm, than good? To just jump into this farming dream I’ve had my whole life, with not much experience?
There’s days I feel so accomplished and proud of what I have learned and what Jason and I have built! But that morning, I felt so discouraged. The enemy started to scream things at me. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” “Those animals would have been alive if you were more prepared and didn’t let Druzy down!” “Throw in the towel Tonya!” “Leave the farming to experienced farmers!”
When this happens, these evil feelings that are all lies, I turn into the Lord with thankfulness, meditation, worship, and prayer. That’s my first line of defense. But my second-I also reach out. Who did I know to help me process everything!? I needed someone to give me perspective! Someone with experience! And I had someone. Sarah.
A Farm Friend
Sarah is beautifully worded. A child of God. A farmer. With great wit, strength, and passion. Weirdly enough, I also have become acquainted with her sister, as well. Both ladies fiery red heads. Both with beautiful, homeschooled families. Both who I admire and want to be “when I grow up”. Both of their farms, loosely surrounding mine. Both of them I met at different times, for different reasons. Only finding out, recently, they were sisters! Woah! Totally amazing! And what a small world! This explains why I thought it was so ironic they both homeschooled, had red hair, and both came from a large homestead in Montana! Ha!
Anyways, if anyone could ease the pain I was feeling, outside of my Father, whom I seek first, it would be Sarah. This is some of the advice she graciously shared with me, and I feel if you’re reading this, it may be of comfort for you to hear, as well.
Sarah-“It is so discouraging to have losses. This cold makes it even harder for first time goat mamas and goat managers like us!
You just have to remember that losses will happen in livestock management. I cry every time it happens– it’s tough when you’re faced with the reality of things going wrong. Grieve it. It’s not supposed to be like this, but we know we’re headed towards the redemption of all things, right?”
“According to Scripture, even creation groans, waiting for redemption. Read Romans 8:18-25, and remember that there is hope for the next kidding. Even that you still have Druzy is a moment of hope and future! You have a loss, but you’re not without hope. That’s how you move forward with your goats. Keep learning, keep doing your best, keep hoping. Keep managing your livestock to the best of your ability, taking pleasure and grief in the wins and losses, glorifying God in each expression of your life being lived deeply.”
“On a practical note: milk Druzy out. Save her colostrum, because you never know when you will have an orphan. Also, if you don’t plan to milk her, you should at least take the edge off of her production as she dries off– milk her out once a day until engorgement passes, and then let her dry up. Or milk twice a day.”
“On your other mamas getting ready to kid– I’ve had consistent daytime births by graining in the evening. My Dad’s trick. Grain once a day in the evening. For some reason, that sets up labor to start in the morning, usually done by noon. The occasional first freshener will labor in the evening, but never in the night without your awareness.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Rough way to start. But be encouraged– God is fixing this. He says so in His Word. And we are a part of the groaning of creation, but we are also a part of the redemption, and we can hope because we know the Redeemer. Care well for Druzy, and be a part of easing the groans we all live under– a part of the redemption of creation.
Hang in there, sister, I know it is painful.”
Wow. Yes. Exactly what I needed and wanted to hear. I thank God for this woman he placed in my life. A sister to steer me and remind me of everything she so eloquently wrote to me. If this helped me, I pray it helps you, as well. Let’s take a moment and read what that scripture says! I’ll put it, here, for you!
Romans 8 18-25
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God
to be revealed.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it,
that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly
for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope we were saved.
But hope that is seen is no hope at
Who hopes for what they already have?
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Meditate on This
The Bible gives us far more perspective on suffering than I can comment on briefly here. As you read it, ask God to instill His wisdom in your heart for how to handle suffering. But here in our verses, Paul wants us to think about four things:
First, our present sufferings are relatively short compared to our eternal sharing in the glory of God.
Second, the weight of our present trials is like a feather on the scale, which can’t compare with the tons of gold of the glory that will be revealed to us.
A third thing to think about to endure present, temporary suffering for future glory is that our future glory with God is absolutely certain.
And lastly, we need to keep our eyes on the futurepromised glory and you will persevere in presentsuffering with
Since we had just all watched the 2021 Super Bowl when this had happened- I’ll conclude with this as an example (in case farming is unrelatable).
If you’ve ever watched your favorite team play in the Super Bowl, you were anxious as the game progressed, especially if it was close. If your team fumbled or threw an interception, you groaned because you didn’t know the outcome. You hoped they would win, but your hope was uncertain. Maybe you even got depressed when they were far behind.
But if your team came from behind and won in the last seconds of the game and later you watched a replay of the game, your whole attitude was different. You didn’t despair when they fumbled or fell behind, because you knew how it all would turn out. Knowing the certainty of the future glory gave you hope to persevere through the setbacks.
If we become anxious or depressed in trials and lose hope, it’s because we’ve forgotten the absolutely certain outcome: Future glory forever with Christ! Yes, there is present suffering because we live in a fallen world. But God has promised future glory. Keeping that in view will enable you to persevere any suffering with hope.
God really showed up in this situation. After we had grieved the loss of these beautiful, twin baby goats, we started to see the blessings in the midst of all the pain.
Through this tragedy, Druzy had taught me how to milk! And like a human woman, Druzy produced milk! And just because she didn’t have babies to nurse, her milk didn’t stop flowing. So, that day, I put my overalls on, held my chin up high, and went out to milk Druzy for the first time.
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