MayZ, the Dexter x Zebu cross calf that came with our cow May, has left the farm. She is going to stay with Steve for a while, and then on to either a new home or a freezer. The children were sadder than I expected. We have been talking about this for a while, so I didn't expect the tears when the time came.
I love having a variety of animals on the farm, and I think it is important to include some kind of livestock on every farm, even very tiny micro-farms. However, they are a bit of work and sometimes impossible to manage. For animals to fit you must have a management system that fits the type of animal, the property, the desired product, and your time. Our system works for us and our animals with very few exceptions. MayZ was one of the exceptions. After a year of leading her to and from pasture every day, bottle feeding her when she was young, and rewarding good behavior with treats (which has worked with all our goats, no matter how wild they were when they arrived, with May the Dexter cow, and even with the children at least somewhat) she just couldn't get with the program. We don't have any permanent fence around our pasture or any substantial animal handling facilities. I rely on training and my bond with the animal to be able to do what ever I need to do with them. Ours is such a small property that such facilities and fences would eat up to much space and take away the flexibility we now enjoy. So, after trying for a year, we are sending MayZ on to some place that has a system that better fits her personality.
MayZ isn't the only critter we have who can't seem to work with the system. We also have a chicken I call suicide chicken. She will not stay in the paddock with the rest of the flock even though every good thing a chicken could possibly want is there. No matter what I try, she always gets out. She loves to hangout on the edge of the road. I've given up trying to contain her. I'm sure I will find her hit by a car or eaten by the local coyotes some day.
Mostly, our system works for us (animals included). I would recommend having animals on your mico-farm our in your garden, but...