Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Your Own Good, That's What It's For

Crumpet went on hijinks since she was not getting any attention. She squirmed through the coddle-baby gate from the pasture where the coddle-baby Nigerians live into the down-below pasture where the tough girls live.

"I am here! I am here!" she announced. She went up on her hind legs, offering to headbutt anyone.

Maddy the Sheriff of Crazytown turned on a dime and came loping toward her and Crumpet, apparently still in control of some of her faculties, turned and ran and squirmed back into the coddle-baby pasture.

"I am here! I am here!" she announced. Betty t-boned her into a fencepost.

Crumpet trotted a little bit downhill to where there was a conference of last year's babies going on, Dot and Derringer and Dill Pickle, discussing ways of getting more grain now that the hole in the fence had been patched, preventing them from skedaddling up to the feeders where the mothers and the this-year's-babies got their highly delectable buffet of grain and peas and wheat and sunflower seeds.

"I am here! I am here!" she announced.

The last-year's-babies took turns headbutting Crumpet and it turned out they were a lot bigger than she remembered so she went and squashed herself between the panel gate and the post holding it up and she was luckily still just small enough to get through and she cantered up to the feeders where the this-year's-babies were waiting for the mothers to finish eating and after announcing "I am here! I am here!" she t-boned as many of them as she could while the mothers were still stuffing their faces, taking special care to t-bone 4-inch tall Hannah Banana lest she get too big for her britches.

"It's for your own good!" she announced cheerfully, then scampered back down to the coddle-baby pasture when the mothers started arriving and even broke into a full gallop when the Good Ship Binky, shaking its anvil-shaped head, hove into sight doing its patented muffle-scream as it scanned the horizon for its good-natured son Homer, God Forbid The Good Ship Binky should witness any malfeasance involving its little hammerheaded son Homer, woe betide even TMFGITW if The Binky should see something like this, provided that The GSB should comprehend what it was seeing.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Every Family Has One

It was a dark and stormy night. Somewhere. Not here. Here it was beautiful, a balmy night in early spring, for once not raining but with a gentle breeze. From the West. That is the good breeze. Not enough of it to rattle the roof, just the right amount of breeze.

Everything was normal. Perfectly normal. Nothing strange. Everyone was sleeping peacefully inside Tara, all of the down-belows. There was nothing to raise an eyebrow until right before dawn. Right before dawn my mother got up quietly.

"Where are you going?" I asked her.

"Go back to sleep," she said, and she tiptoed over the snoring bodies toward the little strip of pasture at the top of the down-below hill. This is the spot from which you can see everything. No one can sneak up on you here.

I went back to sleep and did not wake up until I heard the farmer coming out in the early morning light. Cherry snapped awake when she heard the feed in the bucket and the stampede to the feeders was on and the farmer did the morning head count, around all the feeders, then did the count again, then turned to me and said, "where is your mother?"

I looked over right away to the top of the down-below hill, and there she was. The farmer looked too. She was just lying down, and turning sideways to push, almost like you would do if you were having a baby. That's funny, I thought to myself, it almost looks like she is having a baby, but you would have to be bred to have a baby, and my mother hasn't been bred since she had me years ago, what a pretty baby I was, really just completely darling - just then the farmer rushed past me and the next thing I knew my mother was being frogmarched up to the barn.

Inside the barn the farmer quickly made a makeshift nest in the aisle and grabbed the towels from the tack room and within a couple of minutes there were two feet heading out which seemed to make it even more likely that my mother was having a baby.

The feet came out and then the legs, which isn't unusual in fact the legs almost always follow the feet. You can make a note of this if you are keeping a detective chart: where the feet go the legs will follow. These legs were jet black and they seemed to keep coming, and the farmer said, "this is going to be a tall one, it must be a buckling," and the legs kept coming and coming and finally there was the nose, jet black too, and the farmer gave a couple of gentle pulls and out slid the Dark Secret.

The farmer gave a little gasp, probably because it was definitely a baby goat. Or maybe because it was a doeling. Or maybe it was something else? There was something about the baby, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, I knew the baby was my sister, but she looked nothing like me. She looked nothing like my mother either. But I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Lori came over later and the farmer asked did she notice anything different about the baby.

"Well it's quite tall," said Lori. This was true, it was very tall and elegant, much taller than any of the other doelings. Yes but that's not it, said the farmer. "Well it seems to have sort of wavy hair," said Lori. Yes but that's not it, said the farmer. "It's very black, quite black," said Lori. "It's one of the blackest goats I've ever seen, except for its white cap." Yes but that's not it, said the farmer. "It isn't chubby like the others," Lori proposed.

The farmer gave up. "Did you notice," the farmer asked, "that it doesn't have any ears?"

"That's it!" said Lori.

The Dark Secret was my mother's idea. No one knows how she did it, and it was a very dangerous thing to try. Things could have gone very wrong. But they didn't. So I suppose all is well and everyone got what they wanted. Except the bucks. The bucks have new no-climb fencing around their pen, and double hot wires coming soon.

The Dark Secret is the prettiest mini-Mancha we have ever had here. And the most beloved, not least because she will be my mother's last daughter EVER.

Nonetheless, all you does listening out there, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.











Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Long Lunch

Sorry there has been a delay. The dark secret is coming soon.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Dark Secret

Every family has its dark secrets. Our family is no exception.

But our secret is very dark. Darker than most. In fact it is black. Jet black, the blackest true black, as black as the velvet lining of your violin case.

Anyway maybe you don't know but the Baby Belle family now has only two known living daughters. They are Blue Umbrella, the blue-eyed candy milker, and Belle Pepper, my mother.

My mother has only been bred once and she had me and my brother. We were born right after the original Baby Belle died, and I became Baby Belle Jr. My brother went to live with an artist. He lives in a sumptuous goat shed with a copper roof and diamond-paned casement windows. If Martha Stewart ever does a magazine issue on goat sheds his shed will be on the cover. Our shed will be on the "DON'Ts" page if they have that. I don't think they will have that page, though. Who wants to see Tara with the flapping roof and the chewed up siding boards (it wasn't me) and the mile-high Goatberry Mountain. There are never any berries in Martha Stewart Living. Not that kind. That's why they invented Photoshop.

Anyway I got off track. My mother had me. And she was never bred again. The reason was supposedly that she did not have a good udder. But really in reality I think she was too dear. She is the dearest goat, and what if she should be bred and something should happen. There are only two Baby Belle daughters left. But anyway for public consumption the official reason was that she did not have a very good udder.

Every year when she came in heat my mother would go to the farmer and volunteer to be bred. "I don't think so," the farmer would say. "Maybe next year."

And so on. I am five years old and I have never had any other brothers and no sisters at all. Not a single one.

"Wait a minute," you are probably asking, "not even one?"

No. The answer was always no. Until the dark secret.

--- lunchtime, part 2 tomorrow --




Friday, March 28, 2014

The Ugly Duckling and the Dark Secret

Binky had a little baby buckling and he was unfortunately quite homely.

"He has good posture, though," Belle Pepper said brightly and Binky t-boned her into the wall.

"His face reminds me of a bad dream I once had," offered Belle Starr. Binky t-boned her into the wall.

"Which end is the face?" asked little Hannah Banana pertly, scampering under the milkstand so that Binky t-boned her own head on the side of it, after which she staggered briefly, then returned to licking and admiring her little Frankenson with apparent sincerity.

"mmmyyy llllittttllle sssonnn," she murmured over and over, occasionally doing patented Binky muffle-screams of delight. Binky has a part-Nubian thing she does where she screams with her mouth closed. This is called a muffle-scream and it is almost always an expression of extreme delight.

"Wow," said all the Nigerian mothers, looking at their own kids, all of them so exquisitely beautiful, many with the faces of goat angels, and then at the little Frankenson. "Wow."

"Maybe his name should be Evander," suggested Abby. "He looks like he has already been in a fight."

"Wow," said Poppy, soberly.

"mmmyyy llllittttllle sssonnn," moaned Binky.

Oh dear, we ran out of time for the Dark Secret. We will have to do it tomorrow.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Won't Do AT ALL and the Dark Secret

There was something about Blue. She just didn't quite seem quite right.

Blue always has her kids unfailingly and invariably on Day 146 (if the kids are triplets) or Day 147 (if they are twins.) It was Day 151.

"This is getting old," muttered the farmer. Blue was eating and drinking and moving around and her ligaments were not softening but there was something about her. Something distant and preoccupied.

"Come up to the barn," said the farmer, and Blue went up to the barn to the kidding aisle. The farmer gave her some calcium. Later in the day she did start to soften. She started chuckling and nickering to the farmer. She looked around distractedly - wait a minute, this isn't the Nigerian shed. How did I get here? She almost seemed right.  

But there was something just a little bit glassy about her.

She made a little bit of a nest but didn't really paw it up or lay down to push. She ate dinner. At 10 o'clock she was fine. At midnight she was fine but it looked like she might be thinking of pushing, she had her back legs stretched out, but the farmer watched her for a few minutes and she didn't do anything.

"She never kids at night," the farmer announced to everyone in the barn. "Come on, Sammy, let's take a nap."

Oh really we all thought. No one mentioned that she never kids on Day 152 either.

The farmer and Sammy went to the cottage and set an alarm for 1 a.m. It did not go off. At 2:45 Sammy started scratching and scratching the farmer and the farmer woke up. "Do you have to go out?" asked the farmer blearily, then looked at the clock. The farmer and Sammy came bursting into the barn a few seconds later.

Blue was pushing hard and when the farmer finally got there it was something we had not seen before, three feet, two backs and a front, and a big head, all trying to come at the same time.

"This won't do AT ALL," the farmer said, or something like that only with a lot more curse words in it. The big head got stuffed back in, all the way back in, and the back legs got pulled out - they were attached to a gigantic buck kid - and then the big head politely re-emerged, again with only one foot but by this time there was plenty of room - and out lolloped another gigantic buck kid.

Blue gave a gracious nod, dismissing the farmer. Sammy got to eat some of Spenny's special boiled chicken. We will have to tell about the Dark Secret tomorrow.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last Year's Baby

Is there anything sadder than last year's baby? Oh look, last year's baby, it used to be so cute. And now it is last year's baby. Blue Jaye's little daughter Dinky Dollarbird has been moping around trying to get attention. Her mother went up to the barn to have this year's baby, Edward Scissorlegs, and Dinky has been crying-for-me-Argentina ever since.

Rosie the grain hog came right out and told her: "look, no one is interested in you. So button it up."

"Waa," said Dinky tepidly. She was even losing interest in herself. "Waa."

If there is one thing sadder than last year's baby, it is The Most Famous Goat In The World not having its every last goatberry documented and applauded. It's true, Crumpet has been living her life as if she were a perfectly ordinary goat, a nobody from nowhere with nothing to say, she might as well be a Saanen wether, and not the potentate of a multinational organization with offices around the world and her own t-shirt. She got an idea for a startup company (goatLYFT) the other day, and nobody even heard about it, that's how hard it is to get your name in the paper this time of year.

Unless you are a baby.

Babies. Even TMFGITW cannot compete with the little devils. They do not even know how much they love the limelight. They will find out next year, in the springtime, when they wake up one morning to discover that they are last year's baby.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Wrongs

They say two wrongs don't make a right.

But I don't know.

Belle Starr was not like some other does. Two or three days went by and she was still looking for her babies. Everywhere she went she looked for them. In the bushes, under the porch.

Meanwhile Terra Belle, never known for her mathematics skills, could not keep track of her triplets. She even asked Poppy: "how come you have three triplets, and I only have two?"

"Because I'm smarter than you," said Poppy, chewing her cud.

Anyway, everyone except Terra Belle knows what happened next. The farmer came and took Terra Belle's tiny triplet, and gave her to Belle Starr. Everyone looked away, and when Terra Belle asked Poppy the next day why Poppy had three triplets and she only had two, Poppy had a new answer.

"Because they're quadruplets."

It isn't really right to steal someone's triplet. But was it right for Terra Belle to have three triplets, and Belle Starr to have none?

I ask you, was it right?






Sunday, March 16, 2014

Starts With E....

Ok we got a lot of excellent OGG* names for the Pebbles twins (Pebbles x Promisedland Chaotic Bliss) and the boy is going to be called Electric BamBam. The girl we can't decide: on the one hand is the OGG* name Elegant Mayhem (Ellie), on the other the farmer's names Euphoregon (Euphie) and Thunderegg (Eggie), which has the e in the middle so I don't even know if it should be allowed. A thunderegg is a kind of rock found in Oregon, in fact it is the state rock of Oregon. You can look it up if you care. Elegant Mayhem is also good, because it is part Imperious Elegance and part Chaotic. Euphoregon is a long walk on a short pier, it does have a little bit of Bliss, and then it just has Oregon, portmanteau style but not really going anywhere, sort of a staycation of a name, but no other goat will ever have it, kind of like Secretariat.

Ok then we have the three orange triplets and one is already being called Orangina, so they obviously are in dire need of naming assistance. One is called Eric the Red, which could be worse because at least it starts with E. The third little orange girl is just being called "the third little orange girl." Someday soon, if no one intervenes, she will certainly be called "Thirdy." She has the personality of a basketball, just bounces around and off things, not a thought in her head.

Edward Scissorlegs
As far as Terra Belle's triplets, the two boys have no names at all whatsoever and the third tiny precious pet is Hannah Banana, which doesn't even have an e in it, much less start with an e, and she is being carried everywhere on a satin cushion and I think I know where that road leads. Okay then Blue Jaye's little son is being called Edward Scissorlegs for his way of standing, or should I say "standing," and the Belle Pepper doeling is ee velvet, same spelling as ee cummings. She is very poetic and has black curly hair and the disposition of an angel, and looks like she comes from a pretty how town.

So you can see, just as usual, some help is needed in the naming department.

*Ozarks Goat Girl

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Pebbles started in bellowing but she didn't know why, so at first she just bellowed randomly.

"Oh my!" she bellowed. Then, "the end is near!"

Then "death and taxes!"

"My innards!" she bellowed, as it began to dawn on her that something was happening to her but from the inside out. How diabolical. Usually when things happen to you they happen from the outside in, like when you step on a fence staple, that happened once when she was helping the farmer, my goodness that hurt and she had to get a shot afterward but in the end she got a lot of nice treats and went on free range for two days so the fence staple incident could not be considered entirely a bad thing and maybe this would turn out the same, with her getting a lot of special snacks, maybe Lori would even come over with the real fig newtons, not the knockoff convenience store fig newtons the farmer always buys that she eats out of politeness.

"Dios Mio!" she bellowed, lapsing into her native Oregonian.

Unfortunately her cries did not fall on deaf ears.

"Can you please put a sock in it?" the brutish Terra Belle asked threateningly, all pretend safety-patrol courtesy.

"I cannot hear myself eat," frumped Poppy.

"Zip it," insisted Belle Pepper.

Just then Pebbles spotted her BFF Ivy through the gate. Ivy alone seemed to care.

"Ivy!" she bellowed.

"Pebbles!" bellowed Ivy.

"I am going to kill both of you," seethed Eo.

This went on no joke I am not kidding for the next twelve hours. The farmer came and made a nest for Pebbles in the barn aisle, then went to look for the chainsaw ear muffs. The rest of the day the farmer walked around wearing ear muffs while we all suffered, but not in silence, the blessed Sound of Silence, in restless dreams I walked alone, and the vision that was planted in my brain, etc and so on.

Finally it got dark and Pebbles dropped her decibels down into the tolerable range.

"Ivy," she burbled.

"Pebbles," whispered Ivy, hunched under the feeder where she could not be t-boned.

Then Pebbles really went into labor, while the farmer tried to read "The Goldfinch" on a Kindle. At 4 in the morning she popped out a pair of fat buckskin twins, identical to their mother in every way, except for one being a girl and one being a boy.

"Oh," she said. "I see."

"Pebbles!" cooed Ivy. The farmer snored in a chair.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Tale of Two Sisters

If this were a movie, in the background of every scene you would see Pebbles, eating, eating, eating like a house on fire. In the foreground would be the frogs, making an ungodly din with their singing, they have never been so loud, and in the background would be beer-barrel Pebbles, wolfing the new alfalfa. In the next scene, three horses dozing in the sun. In the background Pebbles: gobbling the heads off the dandelions and scarfing some old leaves that blew off the roof of the shed.

Well Terra Belle had everyone on pins and needles because she went to day 150, and then she went to day 151, and all the time she was silent and uncomplaining and held her cards very close to her vest. The farmer moved her up to the kidding stall, but she escaped - slowly and inconspicuously, the way she does everything - and nobody even noticed she was gone until she had already made it back to the decrepit down-below shed, her beloved homeland of Tara, with its chewed-up siding and flapping roof and its landmark visible-from-Space Goatberry Mountain.

"Wait a minute," said the farmer, and went down to get her, accidentally letting Pebbles through the gate. Pebbles went about two inches then stopped dead in her tracks so she could start tearing at the new sprouts of grass. Terra Belle trudged back up, silent and uncomplaining, with the farmer frowning at her.

"You are just going to have a gigantic single buck kid on Day 160, aren't you?" sighed the farmer. The farmer tucked her in the kidding stall and turned to go back into the house, but something caught the farmer's attention for once and it was Belle Starr, Terra Belle's sister, down in the other pasture. Belle Starr had been twittering and twittering all morning, which isn't unusual, because she always calls to the farmer to serve her breakfast separately in her own private bowl, but yesterday the farmer moved the bowl to the buckling pen and told Belle Starr she would just have to eat out of the feeder with everyone else, and so that morning Belle Starr had been in what seemed like a state of high indignation.

Only she never got over it, and so the farmer went down to check on her, and in two seconds it was apparent that she was kidding, and the farmer rushed her up into the kidding stall with Terra Belle, leaving the gate open again. Pebbles galloped alertly back into the barn and buried her face in the hay, eating with her eyes closed because that seemed to make things go faster.

The farmer trotted arthritically to the house to look at the calendar and sure enough Belle Starr was not due until March 31. The farmer ran back to the barn and turned Belle Starr around to take a look, but what was coming was placenta, and that only means one thing, and so the farmer ran - wheezing - back down to the Nigerian shed, knowing what would be there, and sure enough in a far corner were three kids, two handsome bucklings and a beautiful tiny doeling, born too early to live.

One of the bucklings, tiny as he was, was twice the size of the others, almost the size of a normal baby. Years ago the farmer would probably have said, "I might have been able to save him if I had been here," but what is the point of that, if you had wheels you might be a bus. So the farmer picked them up and carried them to the cottage and washed them gently and then laid them in a little box, side by side, and covered them with Sammy's puppy quilt.

The farmer milked Belle Starr out, and she had a beautiful soft udder, just like her mother. Terra Belle watched stoically, and the farmer checked her again, and she still wasn't thinking of kidding. The rest of the day passed grudgingly, with Belle Starr being milked every few hours. Her crying grew softer, and took on an absent quality.

The next morning the farmer came out and Terra Belle had kidded in the night without a peep or a stitch of assistance, and tucked in the straw next to her were three kids, two handsome bucklings and a beautiful tiny doeling, brothers and sisters to Belle Starr's triplets. The two sisters were lying in opposite corners of the stall, looking at each other quietly.

Terra Belle with her triplets, Belle Starr alone.

And just then - of course, how could it be different - the good ship Pebbles began bellowing, at the top of its mighty lungs.....

(Stay Tuned)....


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Welcome to Downton


Well Pebbles now has her own pasture and she lolls about in it like a princess whenever the sun comes out for a few minutes. When the rain starts Pebbles gives a little bleat of indignation and her ladies' maid rushes out to escort her back to the barn aisle, where she lives with Kermit, Tito, and her best friend Ivy during the rainy parts of the days. Every few hours Lady Pebbles gives a summons and the ladies' maid scurries in to give her a back massage.

"Lady Ivy, would you care for a back massage?" she asks Ivy.

"Trains," says Lady Ivy, monosyllabic as ever.

"That means 'not just now,' "  Pebbles translates for everyone. " 'Perhaps later, when we return from London after the Goat Ball.' "

"Goat Ball?" echoes Pinky.

Steam shoots out of Eo(played by Maggie Smith)'s ears.






Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ivy the Quaker

Well ok the new Isabel came here from Sequim, which must be somewhere near Oregon, because we can't really understand her. What I mean is, we can understand what she says, but we have no idea what she means. If I had to describe her I would say she is a very plain little white goat with no personality. She is always mumbling solitary nouns, never any verbs, and always aquiver about something, nobody knows what.

"Alfalfa," she will mumble.

"Yes, alfalfa, what of it?" someone will say, and she will run off into a corner, quivering.

Or, "Morning," she will mutter, practically wringing her hooves.

"Really? What about afternoon? What about night?" someone will reply. She scurries off quaking in horror.

So all in all she is very reminiscent of Moldy except for the fact that she knows when to stay out of your way, so she has hardly had any thrashings, because she keeps to herself, squirrelly and monosyllabic, bobbing and weaving and nervous as a cat on water skis.

Since my daughter's name is Isabelle it was decided that she wouldn't be called Isabel, so she had to be called something else, and rather than taking the trouble to think of a good name the farmer started calling her I.B. Well the farmer only had to explain to one or two people that, "no, her name isn't IVY, it's I.B.," before it was all too much work and everyone just calls her Ivy.

So now her name is Ivy and she has two kids, both of them oddly cute and bubbling with personality, and it was decided that they would have the run of the barn aisle since they are the first kids of the year, and they spend their days chirping and hopping happily and for once Ivy the Quaker almost seems relaxed, snuggling up with them and mumbling endearments and she is positively ecstatic about life in the barn aisle.

And then it was decided that Pebbles would come up and join her since Pebbles had to be vaccinated in preparation for her mid-March kidding, and since it has been pouring literally nonstop for the past three days, the new little quartet would stay high and dry in the barn while everyone else got turfed out because "a little rain won't hurt you."

So we stood out in the rain up to our briskets and Pebbles and Ivy stayed in the barn eating bon bons and alfalfa and by the time we finally got back in something very strange had happened, Ivy and Pebbles were bonded and they were lying down together on the wooden milkstand chewing their cuds.

"Is that your new best friend, Pebbles?" asked Sandy, pointedly.

"That's right," said Pebbles.

"Moon," whispered Ivy, staring out at the night sky. The little bucklings danced an Irish jig.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kermit and Tito and the Not-so-supernanny

Well I don't like to admit it but Isabel's kids are not bad looking. There is an orange one and then there is the tiny toggenburg. His name is Tito for obvious reasons. The orange one did not have a name but then the night after he was born, down in the meadow all at once like they do every year, without any tuning, the frogs launched their first chorus of the year. So his name is Kermit now.

The Terror was brought out to see her aptitude for supernannying. As far as I could see it was minimal to put it kindly. In the first place, who wants a supernanny who is constantly yapping. This is not how Wendell did it. One of the keys to supernannying is that you do not know you are being nannied until it is all over. When you are properly supernannied, you will say, "Whuh? Whoa! Ahhh," and by the time you say, "Ahhh," you are sparkling clean and refreshed at both ends.

"Practice makes perfect," the farmer said, which was what the farmer always used to say when Stacy the Nubian would look at the milkstand every morning and balk in terror, refusing to jump up, until finally she had to be manually hoisted on board, with a lot of sotto voce swearing and sometimes not so sotto, and this went on for four years without improvement until Stacy crossed the Rainbow Bridge which I guess must not have had a grate on it like the milkstand or she would never have set foot into the hereafter. God rest her soul and no offense but a spade is a spade and no use pretending it is a tulip.

Anyway as far as this saying goes what is the point of practicing something if you are doing it the wrong way?

Do you want to get really good at doing it the wrong way? Because if so, you are on the right track, and please send us a postcard when you get to the wrong station.

That is all I have to say for now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

All You Have to Do

The farmer has a saying. The saying is, "all you have to do is live long enough."

That is what the farmer said years ago when the bears climbed the fence into the yard.

This is what the farmer said when Wendell, through the sheer force of his personality, frighted the long-legged coyote half to death and sent it pronging in abject terror off into the high grass.

This is what the farmer said when Spenny the border collie got left home alone too long even for her cast-iron constitution and she discreetly slid the shower door open with her nose and went to the bathroom in there, as a courtesy, because that's the kind of dog she is, she lives in horror of causing anyone any trouble, exactly the opposite of a boston terror.

Anyway you can use this expression whenever you see something you never thought you'd see. And in case you are wondering where we are going, the track is long and winding but we don't go off it, so that brings us back to the beginning: people are always asking the farmer how long is the longest a pregnant doe will go before kidding.

Well, the farmer says, it would be pretty unusual to go over 150 days. In fact, it would be pretty unusual to even get to 150. When they go 150, they are almost always first fresheners, that or they are going to have a gigantic single - usually a buck - or both. This puts everyone in a bad mood - first freshener with a gigantic single buck kid, head like a basketball, get your earplugs because we are in for some screaming.

Back when we had Nubians, they would sometimes go 150, or sometimes even a day or two over. In looking through the history books the longest we ever had was a Nubian who went 152, and even that might have been an accounting error. But our LaManchas in general do not go 150, they like Day 147, and Nigerians are about the same, and so whenever someone asks how often a Nigerian will go over 150, the farmer always says, just to save time, "Never."

Anyway Isabel, there are two now, this one is the new Moldy but it's a long story, was pencilled in to kid on Day 148, which would have been February 5th. February 5th came and went, and so did the 6th, and the 7th, and the farmer sighed. "I guess she will have a gigantic single buck kid tomorrow."

The 8th came and went. And the 9th. And then the 10th. The farmer puzzled over the charts: Isabel wasn't bred here, so it wasn't possible that the dates were wrong. And she was kept in isolation when she got here, so it wasn't possible she was bred right after getting here by some mysterious paramour, which has certainly happened before.

But in any case you can't stay on high alert forever, and after the 11th came and went with no sign of kidding, the farmer embraced the abyss and went to bed early, explaining to Sammy that "something else has happened. Something we don't know about."

Sure enough at 1:32 a.m. this morning, well into the forbidden kidding hours, a few muffled not particularly urgent screams, just loud enough to wake the farmer, emanated from the barn.

When the farmer went out, there were two adorable kids, an orange one and one that looks like the world's tiniest, most perfect Togg. Both had slid out with no problem. They were not at all gigantic.

"Well," the farmer said to the Terror, rubbing them dry, "all you have to do is live long enough."

And so now if anyone asks how long a Nigerian doe will go before kidding, the answer is going to be: "155 days. And not a minute more."





Saturday, February 08, 2014

Around the Equator

Pebbles has gone from possibly bred to definitely bred to waistline the size of the Equator in the last month. Meanwhile Jammies who has fooled the farmer the last two years by pretending to settle has just hit the trifecta by coming into heat four months after being "successfully" "at last" bred in October. "Ok that's fine," said the farmer, "Jinxy is bred, anyway."

Jinxy is Jammies' daughter and equally as cosseted.

"Isn't she?" the farmer asked, looking at Jinxy suspiciously. Jinxy was bred at the same time as her mother and, like her mother, hasn't been in heat since, and has been eating for at least three.

"Jinxy?" asked the farmer, and Jinxy turned slowly with sad mini-mancha eyes and blinked a message: bring me some peanuts in the shell, I need them right away, which the farmer interpreted to mean, of course I am bred.

We shall see what we shall see.

Anyway the farmer trundled Pebbles up to the barn and she was coppered and seleniumed and given a thorough going-over and the results were that she is hatching out a platoon of majorettes from the way they all were kicking.

The farmer took a tape measure and put it around the Equator and blinked in surprise and then put the tape measure away and told Pebbles,  "that information will not be published because it could be retweeted out of context. "

Pebbles lumbered off back to the pasture looking like something from the Macy's Parade.


Saturday, February 01, 2014

Qs and As

The question was is Pebbles bred or is she supposedly apparently bred?

A. Pebbles is definitely bred and already producing a tiny udder suitable for a fat soon-to-be-three-year-old-first-freshener.

The question was is Blue Monday still on the BUB (big ugly baby) program?

A. Monday is sort of but not really on the BUB program. She sort of believes the farmer is her baby but she knows it isn't possible for her baby to be three feet taller than she is and also wearing mom jeans. One or the other maybe but not both. It just isn't possible. So her milk is dwindling but she still allows the farmer to milk her once a day while she screams absently.

The question was what about Crumpet what has she been doing?

A. Nothing, just eating.

The question was what is that funny noise?

A. Doxie is in heat.

No, the other noise.

A. Lulu is also in heat.

The question was who will win the Super Bowl tomorrow?

A. Be serious!  THE SEAHAWKS!!!!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

The 27 Days of Never

In case you are wondering how long Never lasts, the answer is 27 Days.

Not even a month. Not even a February.

That is how long it has been since we made our Never announcements of the things that would never happen here. Since then Willen has stopped knocking down the fence - well he's probably just taking a break, 27 days is not a no-knockdown record.

Then Fred woke up one morning and realized that, since his legs are about four feet long, he could just step over the sagging fence in the back-up buck pen. He went walkabout, following his nose.

And wonder of wonders miracle of miracles it now appears - "APPEARS," says the farmer, with a high degree of skepticism, when people ask - that Pebbles is bred.

So now we have the thankless task of beginning the quest for Pebbles baby names, which should somehow evoke the names of the Pebble baby parents (Promisedland Chaotic Bliss, aka Chaos, and Herron Hill EJ Pendleton, aka Pebbles). Chaos, euphoria, tiny rocks, rodeo towns in Oregon.

Taller name orders have not much been filled. Also should start with E.

Euphoregon? Estonia Joy?


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sammy's Vacation: The Screenplay

Scene One:
A dull-witted farmer comes home from the grocery store with a boston terror puppy. The farmer is carrying several bags of groceries and accidentally drops the puppy's leash. The puppy follows along anyway, pretending to be obedient. At the kitchen door, the farmer turns to the puppy and says, "don't go anywhere." The puppy sits by the door angelically. The door swings shut as the farmer goes to drop the groceries on the counter.

Cut to: the puppy gallops exuberantly down the driveway trailing its leash.

Cut to: the dull-witted farmer puts some turkey in the refrigerator and returns to the kitchen door. "Sammy?"

Cut to: a kindly couple, Harv and Gloria, out for a drive. They see a puppy bounding gaily along the road, trailing its leash, with no owner in sight. Oh dear, they think, and they pull over. They open their car door. The boston terror puppy leaps in, pleased to meet them. Off they go.

Cut to: "Sammy? Sammy?" the dull-witted farmer circles the farm.

Cut to: Harv, Gloria, and Sammy arrive at Harv and Gloria's house a few miles away, where Sammy immediately begins annoying Crush, their extremely handsome Great Dane. What is this thing, thinks Crush. It must be one of those lolcats from the Internetz.

Cut to: "Sammy? Sammy?" The farmer and the farmer's neighbor split up, one goes east on Herron Rd and one goes west. "SAMMY!"

Cut to: Sammy eats one of Crush's gigantic milk bones, then lies down for a nap, burping. Crush looks on in consternation.

Cut to: farmer crawls through brush in the dark, shines a flashlight down a steep ravine that drops into a creek. Flashlight flickers and goes out. The batteries have not been replaced since it was purchased in 1999. "Damn it," says the farmer. It begins pouring.

Harrowing montage as Team Sammy canvasses the area. Jen makes a big sign for the front of the house. Paul takes flyers to all the local stores. Janet drives around looking for Sammy. Lori goes door to door delivering flyers. Lori goes to one too many doors: a pit bull bites her arm. Peggy calls all the vets in the area. The farmer visits the Humane Society, looking at all the lost dogs. Closeup on the farmer (played by Jennifer Lawrence), stony-eyed and grim.

Cut to: Sammy explains to Harv and Gloria that she really doesn't like that kibbly dog food that comes in a bag, would they mind purchasing a few cans of wet food? She isn't fussy, any really expensive brand will do, organic if they have it would be great. Thanks!

...almost a week passes before Harv sees a Sammy flyer. Gloria calls the farmer immediately. The farmer arrives in record time and scoops Sammy up. Whew, thinks Crush, as the car with Sammy in it backs out of the driveway. Music soars. A rainbow comes out, and a unicorn frolics in a meadow. Bette Midler appears carrying a basket of puppies and starts to sing "Wind Beneath My Wings." Applause applause applause.





Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Terror

Monday did not really want to go in the horse trailer but once she went in she really did not want to come out. She went on the time-tested BUB program with the farmer as her Big Ugly Baby. But she could not fully suspend her disbelief so she would alternate chuckling fondly to the farmer as the farmer milked her, doing her best to fix the farmer's hair, and squalling like a hysterical hyena at the mere sight of the farmer.

"There there," the farmer would say, and that would usually bring her to something like her senses, such as they are.

That all seemed like it would be enough farm drama for the week.

But no.

On Wednesday The Terror disappeared.

You might be surprised how attached a farmer would get to a little useless creature that runs around yapping all day long. A creature that does not even give any milk, and has to wear a jacket to go outside. The secret lives of farmers can be mysterious.

But anyway, our farmer has not been doing anything except driving around putting up flyers and searching the Internet all day long and going into Tacoma to the Humane Society to look at the rows of lost dogs, almost all of them pit bulls, and calling the overnight lost pet hotline every morning, never hearing anything about any boston terriers, and holding the phone slightly away, not right next to the ear because who wants to hear that up close, when they get to the part at the end where they read, tonelessly, "Dogs Found Deceased," and "Dogs Euthanized Before Holding." And then exhaling slowly and going back onto Craigslist to scan for lost and found boston terriers.

The farmer walks around stony-eyed and grim, doesn't seem to hear anything, except maybe Monday's sympathetic murmurings as she allows herself to be milked. Monday understands.

I never thought I would say this, but we need our Terror back. As soon as possible.