It takes three things to make springtime. First it takes the frogs in the pond singing. That started two nights ago. It’s funny how they do it: it isn’t one and then another and then after a few days a whole jamboree. Instead it is none, not a peep, and then the next night a hundred frogs singing 'denim blue fading up to the sky.'*
Actually I prefer it the way they do it, I guess they know what is best.
Then it takes flower heads. Our last (we hope) snow is gone and all around we can see little furled flower heads poking up out of the dirt.
Third, and most important, it takes baby goats.
There are four very fat ladies in the barn, and the barometer is dropping. That means one thing, and only one thing.
The candidates: Lucy Goosy is Penrose’s daughter, she will be a first freshener, and from the expression she has been wearing the last few days, she is going to be very surprised at what happens next. Then there is Wronny, fabulous last place Wronny who has never had a buck kid and who holds the world land speed record for delivery. Really, she should get a job at FedEx.
Then there is Winnie, who made the farmer mad by coming back into heat after she was bred so that now we don’t know if she is going to kid tomorrow or in three weeks. Then there is old faithful Peaches the mini-mancha, big as a house and just as mobile.
“But wait,” says the farmer, looking at the chart, “wasn’t there someone else bred in October?” There is a smudge on the chart, as usual, probably caused by a free-range goat under Wendell’s supervision.
The farmer gets out some sat-on scratched-up reading glasses and peers in dismay at the chart, muttering darkly. The farmer looks around at the fat ladies. “Where is Hannah Belle?” the farmer asks no one in particular.
*that's what it sounds like they are singing, anyway.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Almost every day someone gets to be a free-range goat. Usually it is me or a skinny yearling or someone everyone else picks on. The free-range goat gets to go where it wants and eat what it wants (no rosebushes, please) and gets special treats from the farmer.
Wendell gets to supervise the free-range goat, since he is a herding dog in training. Wendell has been a pest his whole life but now he is four he is starting to be less pesty. He doesn’t eat eyeglasses or cellphones any more, for example. You can even put a cellphone down next to him on the couch and he (probably) will not do anything to it.
Two years ago Wendell got his first baby goat to supervise – Sammy. The farmer was very impressed; Wendell kept both ends of Sammy very clean and followed Sammy wherever he went, supervising him.
Last year, Wendell had Filbert. Filbert was a lot harder to supervise but Wendell did a pretty good job. Filbert was a Nigerian, so he was a lot smarter than Sammy, and he could also fit through any kind of opening, so he was much harder to keep track of, but Wendell made a reasonable effort.
So he was promoted to free-range goat supervisor, which is an important but usually very easy job.
Unless you get a Lamancha doeling. The problem with the LaMancha doelings is that they are all bottle babies and all spoiled rotten. They follow you everywhere and have no sense of personal space. I have told them to buzz off frequently, like when I need some alone time to think about Swedish fish or those pretzels with the candy coating. What are they called? Candy-coated pretzels? Do you know the ones I mean? It’s a sort of a whitish coating, kind of lemony tasting?
Anyway, sometimes you have to bite their ears (the LaMancha doelings) to get rid of them. Only they don’t have ears, so what can you do. You’re stuck.
Jessie was the free-range goat today. She is going to kid in April so she is up in the big barn with the big fat milkers, and she is doing okay up there but the farmer coddles her anyway. So she came out and was following the farmer around as the farmer did various chores, including painting the lattice for the arbor. Wendell was supervising her and everything was going well until the farmer had to go inside.
“Watch Jessie for a few minutes, Wendell,” the farmer said, and went to get a phillips head screwdriver.
Before you can say Man of LaMancha Jessie is at the back door knocking to get in. That is bad enough, but when the farmer comes to the door it is apparent that Jessie has been inspecting the painted lattice at much too close a range, which is clearly a failure of supervision.
“Can you explain this, Wendell?” the farmer asks Wendell, who obviously supervised the whole breach of free-range-goat etiquette. The farmer indicates Jessie’s bright green lattice-colored lips, leaving no room for misunderstanding.
Wendell offers no explanation. He is fired from his supervisory position and will go back to keeping baby goats clean, both ends, as soon as they arrive.
As you may know, Eo is the Ayatollah of the minis. During the winter she rules the down-below pasture. She rules as if she were Grand Empress of all the Russias, not as if she has five disgruntled fat underlings on an acre of wet grass with a tumble-down shack to live in.
Sometimes Eo will boss you for no reason, just to show she can boss you. That is why I avoid her and stay up in the big barn with the milkers where the living is easy and Brandy runs the show. Brandy is the boss of bosses, but nobody minds her because she is fair. Strict, but fair. Also, unlike Eo, she is not an earbiter.
Anyway everything was going fine until we got to the end of February. Then the farmer turfed everybody out of the big barn unless they are going to be kidding soon. Including me, which doesn’t seem fair, since I am Baby Belle and not just an ordinary goat. So I am stuck down here with Eo, the fat underlings, two trample-mad Nubians, and a hodgepodge of other luckless individuals.
What is it with the Nubians? They cannot just walk anywhere. Everywhere they go they have to trample. They trample over to the feeders in the morning, they trample out to eat the free-range grass, they trample along the fence to look at the frogpond.
Anyway the first thing that happened was that Eo was dethroned. No one knows who is in charge now, we all just know it isn’t Eo.
It might be Boo, or possibly even Betsy, although that seems unlikely. It just isn’t Eo.
Eo isn’t taking it well. I imagine she feels kind of like George W. Bush, strolling around Home Depot and telling people, “I used to be President, you know.”
Yeah, right, buddy. Get to the back of the line.
Anyway, Eo has taken to sitting alone and sunning herself and plotting. I can tell from her eyes – just look at the photo – that she is plotting. I don’t know what she is plotting, but she is certainly plotting something.
She has also intimated that she plans to challenge me in future Best Beard contests. I laugh at that. You probably do too.
She may have a beard, but she will NEVER have a magnificent snowy beard.