Around here the reception is not very good. Things don't come in. Things like the phone, the tv, the radio.
Anyway every morning in the milk parlor the farmer turns on the radio. It is an old radio where you twiddle the dial. Usually only one of two stations will come in. One is a country music radio station and the other is news and talk. Both of these are fine. The milkers will tolerate either one.
But sometimes the farmer likes to test the waters, just to see if maybe a new station from who knows where will come in. Every once in a while something new comes on. Then after a few days it goes out and we go back to country music or talk radio.
Well a strange new station came in. It was playing soft rock, which we thought had been outlawed but apparently not.
The farmer left it on and set up the milk machine and put out the food trays and opened up the hatch for the milkers to come in.
Xie Xie was at the top of the ramp when Elton John came on, warbling "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
Xie Xie made a set of patented pop eyes and dismounted immediately off the ramp. Big Orange was behind her and followed suit. Next was Wronny, who came all the way up to the door and stood staring into the milk parlor with a look of shock and horror.
"You know you can't hold me forever," Elton John continued.
"Get in here, Wronny!" yelled the farmer.
Wronny backed away cautiously, like you would from a grizzly bear, trying not to show fear.
"Winnie! Winnie, get in here!" yelled the farmer, trying to reach through the hatch to grab somebody. Winnie would not even set foot on the ramp.
Pretty soon all the milkers backed away from the hatch, huddling in the opposite corner of the on-deck stall.
"What are you doing?" yelled the farmer. Elton John went off. Xie Xie cautiously put a foot on the ramp during the commercial.
"Oh," said the farmer, and turned the station back to talk radio. The milkers relaxed. The milking got under way without further incident.
Our farmer is not as smart as some farmers. But we make do with what we have.
As you know my father's name is Cowboy. He is very handsome and used to have a very distinctive quiff of hair but that has flattened down somewhat what with all the rain and the winter and him having grown to his full buckhood. But anyway as you might expect he is exceedingly handsome nonetheless even with deflated hair. His fantastic beard more than makes up for the wind having gone out of his forelock.
Oddly though he was always known as a sort of a pill. He fretted. He cried and he fussed. He worried. He always foresaw disaster. Everything that happened he seemed to think, oh dear that won't end well. He was a sort of an Eeyore type goat.
If it was beautiful and sunny he would get a look on his face: this won't last, or if it does it will scorch all the grass. I just know it. If it rained he got the same look on his face: well this will probably turn into a hurricane and blow the roof off my shed. I just know it. And so on.
Well everyone thought that was his natural personality. Except me, I didn't. Everyone else did.
"Isn't it funny," people would say. "Millie is so sunny and Cowboy is such a pill."
Because first Cowboy lived with the other bucks, and they always stole his food and made implied threats against him and actual threats also and genuine attempted t-bonings as well. Well that wouldn't do even though he was a fast runner so Cowboy moved to a private pen and shed. He had lots of room and nobody bothered him but he was in there all alone.
Well about a month ago the farmer put Peaches in with Cowboy for breeding. Peaches is a mini and she never really fit in with the big goats, but she was too big for the little goats and bullied them mercilessly. She was a firm disbeliever in the do-unto-others rule.
But anyway Peaches got in there and she seemed quite pleased with the spacious accommodations and in the end the farmer said, oh I will just leave her in there. So Peaches has been in there all this time and slowly slowly Cowboy has come out of his shell.
We were all very startled to see him kicking up his heels and frolicking the other day and doing some exotic spin maneuvers around Peaches, sort of the way Wendell does his "herding" maneuvers to impress the farmer, with a very foolish expression on his face that says, "look at me! Just look at me! Isn't it clever what I am doing??!! Have you ever seen anything like it??"
Every day he does it now and the funniest part is that Peaches is a dour little bag and couldn't care less. But Cowboy couldn't care less that she doesn't care less, he must be in love with her or something. He does his exotic spin moves two or three times a day, even the farmer laughs when he does it, plain as day he is saying, "Look at me, Peaches! Just look!"
We have two pink goats here. One is very sweet. One is very pretty. Both are very dumb.
One of them is Tangy's daughter. Tangy is Big Orange's daughter. The other pinkling is Big Orange's daughter. Both of them are Junior daughters. And Tangy is also a Junior daughter.
So just among the three of them, they could have a gigantic family jamboree, because they are each other's mothers and daughters and sisters and half-sisters and cousins and nieces and aunts. All they would need is potato salad for a great big Pink Family Picnic.
The farmer says that this type of breeding is called line breeding. When it works.
When it doesn't work, it is called inbreeding.
In the case of Tangy's pink daughter, we have been calling it an accident. Accidents do happen, and they do not always wait to happen. Sometimes they happen right away. These are the impatient accidents, or IAs. They result in IA babies. As opposed to AI babies.
So Tangy's pink daughter is an IA baby. She is the sweet one. Big Orange's pink daughter is not an IA baby, but curiously this has not elevated her IQ even a single point.
Here is what she does every night: when the babies come in from the field they all run into their stall for dinner. Even Tangy's pink daughter is able to find her dinner and eat it.
But Zapricot, Big Orange's pink daughter, runs into her stall every night and then immediately runs into the little cranny behind the toe board which the farmer was supposed to fix some time in 2006. This cranny is about 16 inches long and 5 inches wide. There is no room to turn around. Even newborns have gotten trapped in there, it is so small.
I got stuck in there once and I set off my scream alarm that brings people running from two counties.
And here is the key element: I DID NOT GO BACK IN THERE.
And yet every single night Zapricot runs in there and gets stuck. She gives one or two meows, then lies down and goes to sleep until the next morning.
The farmer says, "I am going to have to fix that cranny."
Everyone says, "oh really, when?"
If Lori is there she says, "shall we get her out?"
The farmer says, "oh no, she will figure it out."
Everyone says, "oh really, when?"
Some are pink. And some are pinker. That's life in the cranny lane.
We have been having warm weather and pretty nice weather which makes everyone nervous. No one is nervous when there is a blizzard. Or a streaming deluge. Or a howling windstorm. When we have that everyone thinks, okay good. It can't get much worse than this.
But we have been having warm nice weather and it is January and that makes everyone nervous. Winnie started shedding out her undercoat but the farmer said, "be careful there, Winnie. It is January."
Anyway me and my friend Moldy are keeping our coats.
Peaches forgot to grow her coat in properly last fall because she is only half Nigerian and she ended up getting frostbite on her eartips. So my advice to you is keep your coat on. You can always take it off later.
Speaking of Peaches she has been living with my father Cowboy and yesterday Cowboy got a repeat visit from the big red Nubian who chased him seven ways from Sunday the last time she was here.
Sometimes when Cowboy already has one girlfriend and another one comes the first one gets mad.
But Peaches couldn't give a darn. She couldn't even be bothered to get up. All she did was stretch her neck out a little bit when she had a chance to bite the Nubian's big red ears.
They were dangling there like big red bananas. How could she resist. The Nubian lady didn't notice the ear bites or anything else because this time she fell deeply in love with Cowboy and only had eyes and ears for him.
So there will be some big red multi-colored airplane-eared big-haired miniature Nubians arriving in a few months.
Brandy came up to the big barn the other day for a beauty appointment. While she was up at the barn she looked around keenly, making a note of everything as she always does. Then she looked at Wronny and nodded her head.
Something very embarrassing happened to me. I went into heat. I could feel all my brainpower dimming. Poor Tangy, I thought, this is how she must feel all the time. Pretty soon I only had enough brainpower to run my eyes and my feet. My feet started walking and the next thing I knew I was standing by the buck pen staring at the bucks.
I couldn't think of any comments so I started saying "Hello," over and over.
The bucks all started saying "Hello," over and over back to me.
My nose came on for a minute and then I said, "You all smell really good today."
"Hello," they blubbered, all together.
I couldn't hear anything else so I did not hear the footsteps and I was really surprised when I was picked up in the air and carried to the barn and locked in a stall.
"HELLO!" I shouted. "IS ANYONE OUT THERE? CAN YOU HEAR ME? HELLO!!!!"
When we go in at night Tangy is not supposed to come in our stall. Our stall is for Nigerian goats only and we will not even let half-Nigerians in. This means you, Walker the Talker. Even Jammies is hardly ever allowed in, only when we are not paying attention, and she is 7/8 Nigerian. In our stall we have me, my mother, Blue Umbrella, Boxcar Betty, the little black one that nobody knows her name, Hannah Belle if we cannot keep her out, and of course Miss Priss aka Moldy aka Melody.
We always have Moldy go in the opposite corner from us since she is from Oregon and doesn't really understand correct society. We do not want to listen to her opinions all the livelong day. Or her complaints about the way we do things.
We generally don't bother giving her thrashings any more since we are all very tender-hearted.
Anyway somehow Tangy came stampeding into our stall and started eating all of our food when she was supposed to go in with the big goats. As soon as she saw she was in with us she turned on her terror jets and started head-butting everyone. We are too smart for her and we just scooched into the corner out of range but then Moldy over in the other corner started in talking about how down in Oregon big goats don't come into her stall and eat her dinner, that is just not the way things are done in Oregon, bla bla bla, and if she had known what an uncivilized area this was going to be, etc etc etc.
And even I said to myself, "uh oh," becuse Tangy turned around and looked at Moldy and started backing up which was in preparation for a full-service t-boning, and I could see everyone else was thinking "uh-oh."
And then everyone rushed in a big ball between Tangy and Moldy and we took the wind out of the t-boning so that Moldy only got jostled instead of pulverized and then I guess the farmer must have finished the tea and crumpets because finally the farmer showed up and grabbed Tangy and put her in her stall where she belonged.
We all looked at each other and then we went back to eating our rightful dinner which was half-gobbled by Hurricane Tangy. Moldy came too and ate with us instead of standing in her outcast corner and for once in her life she was quiet.
Everyone moved over a tiny fraction of an inch to make room for Moldy because what can we do. It looks like we are stuck with her.
I lost Goat of the Year. I am not bitter though like some goats (Moldy) who keep complaining about it and can't get on with their life. The Farmer says next year we are going to do a one-vote-to-a-customer no-hack poll. That will never happen though.
Anyway Cora Belle and Winnie are flipping for the cover of the calendar. Whoever loses the calendar cover will go on the cover of the next edition of Goats Quarterly.
Back to our real lives. Some goats like me and the rest of my family can stand to lose a little bit of brainpower which unfortunately happens to everyone around here when they go into heat. I decided not to go into heat this year because it makes you look very foolish. If I have to go I will wait until this fall, since I already had to do weaning last fall and that was bad enough.
But yesterday Pinky went into heat for the first time. Pinky is Tangy's daughter. It is clear even to a casual observer that Tangy is no rocket scientist. Tangy is known strictly for her airs above ground and her orangey fur, medium orange unlike her mother's bright orange. Pinky is an even paler shade of apricot and the sad truth is she is not even as smart as Tangy.
Pinky distinguished herself in her early kid days by inexplicably running into walls and trees for no apparent reason. One time she ran into a wheelbarrow and cracked her head wide open. She has a lot of scars but luckily they are under her pale pink fur. Even I admit that Pinky is very sweet but that is really the only thing she has going for her.
How sweet she is is that she does not even head butt Moldy, which no one else can resist. Even the babies enjoy head-butting her. Anyway Pinky came in heat yesterday and stood outside Cowboy's pen all day long making moony-eyes at him. She didn't make a sound, just gazed at him like he was the Jonas Brothers' better looking buckly cousin.
When the farmer came out to get everyone to go into the barn for the night, a downpour started. So everyone ran pell mell into the barn just as it was getting dark. The rain went on and on through the night, sometimes dribbling, sometimes gushing, sometimes just a solid steady rain. It rained like it wanted to, Northwest winter rain with a mind of its own.
The farmer came out in the morning to feed. The farmer got a funny look going through barn, one of those wait-a-minute looks.
Sure enough, Pinky had not come in the night before.
The farmer walked out and looked down toward Cowboy's pen. There was Pinky, ten hours later, standing in the rain, not even bothering to move five feet forward so that she would be under the overhang, just sopping wet right down to the roots of her pale pink fur, and gazing moony-eyed at Cowboy, who at this point was fast asleep in his shed.
Each year since its inception the GOTY poll has been won by a member of the Baby Belle family. While there have often been accusations of malfeasance these have been difficult to prove since the poll explicitly stipulates that there are no rules and that multiple votes are allowed. Perhaps even encouraged.
This does not leave much recourse for the sore losers (Melody?) of the world.
This year's contest was an extraordinary seesaw battle. Cora Belle for several days surged in and out of the lead, whipping her supporters into a frenzy of backroom politicking, while Melody almost wrestled the lead away at one point. Almost.
I was leading on Wednesday when Jammies the sad-eyed minimancha pulled briefly ahead of me.
Tangy (Tangy?)actually was atop the leaderboard with less than twenty four hours remaining.
Cora Belle always returned to the top until the final hours of the poll, when a dark dark horse surged out of the pack, pulling far ahead of the rest of the field with mere hours to go in the competition. This unlikely contender racked up hundreds of votes in the space of a few hours.
Then, in the final minutes, something unprecedented happened.