I love animals! I have had animals almost always, even when I lived by myself in these “backwoods”.
You can tell your animal friends anything, and they will listen. When their basic needs are fulfilled, they are content with their lives and always happy to see their owner. You can lean your head on their fur (if they have fur) and cry your sorrows away. You can run and play games with them, or just lie down on the yard with a stalk of grass in your mouth and enjoy the spring or summer.
My first special animals were goats. When they grew, they became old enough for milking. I had never before milked goats, but it did not take me long to learn.
I first milked my goat one day in early spring. Afterwards I went on a small hike in the woods. I took along a thermos of hot chocolate – with goat’s milk! I was bit doubtful, wondering what it would taste like, but it was delicious. And goat’s milk cheese is even more delicious!
I had already had goats for some time and then I also got two sheep. I thought they would be one herd, but it was not so simple: they never got used to each other. Each group had their own leader. I even had to build a new winter shed for the sheep because they refused to share the shed with the goats.
Most of my goats have been hornless. My last goat with horns got one of it horns stuck somewhere and broken, so it ended up a “unicorn”. Goats like to be always together in a herd, and they also follow their owner.
Many times over the years I have wondered about the parable of goats and sheep in the Bible, which somehow implies that goats are bad and sheep good. That seems a bit contradictory to me, because goats are such sweet animals.
Matthew in his gospel tells us about the last judgment and says that people will be separated like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. Sheep represent people who are saved and goats people who go to perdition. Maybe this image in the Bible teaches us about good and evil rather than anything about goats and sheep?
My goats have been nice, friendly animals. Maybe, however, goats are more stubborn and cunning than sheep, somehow wiser. And braver.
Our only bigger animals now are two sheep: white 12-year-old Hilla and black Miina, who is a few years older. I have got a lot of wool from Hilla and Miina, which I have used for knitting wool. I still have loads of wool waiting to be carded and spun into yarn. Thanks to my sheep, I have been able to learn such traditional skills.
Sheep are also useful in that they keep the grass on the yard short throughout the summer. Our sheep are free to graze on the yard and even in the wooded area up to the fence deeper in the woods. They participate with us in many outdoor activities and love to be scratched. I find they are members of my family, just as our cat and dog are.
Text: Liisa Lilvanen-Pelkonen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original blog post here.