Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blue Umbrella

Do you know this song? Blue Umbrella? People think it is a John Prine song, because he sings it, but like some of the best John Prine songs, it is actually a Steve Goodman song. We thought about it today because it is raining for the first time in what seems like months, a melancholy nostalgic summer rain that reminds us of a melancholy nostalgic song.

"Blue Umbrella, rest upon my shoulder,
hide the pain while the rain makes up my mind,"

And anyway, Blue Umbrella is my youngest daughter's name. She is a beautiful yearling milker, a blue roan broken buckskin with blue eyes. With all that natural blue, Blue Umbrella seemed like a good name.

Yesterday the farmer was trying to teach the big milkers how to use the new milk bench. They have to run up a ramp, then duck through a hatch, then run along the bench in the next room - elevated about three feet off the floor - until they get to the end. Then they get their grain, and they get milked.

The farmer went and got Winnie to try with. Since she is a LaMancha she is supposed to be smart. But she's not that smart - after all she let the farmer catch her when she should have known she was the subject of an experiment. Her sister Ronny took off running - that's the one the farmer should have guinea-pigged on, if you ask me.

But anyway, Winnie couldn't get with the program, no matter how the farmer shook the grain can and dangled peanut butter wafers. Winnie just stood and bawled. She wouldn't even put a foot on the ramp, except by accident, and then she leaped backward like a bee had stung her.

"Oh, forget it," the farmer said, and went to get Betsy. Betsy loves food, so she was very tempted, but she is part Nubian, so the whole thing was a little bit Flowers-for-Algernon. Betsy wanted to come up the ramp. She just didn't know how. She stood and bawled.

Her daughters out in the pasture joined in the bawling. Triplicate bawling, and no progress toward the milk bench.

The farmer was exasperated, and running short on time, so turned Betsy out. When the farmer wasn't looking, Blue Umbrella nipped in the out door.

"Whuh?" said the farmer, catching a glimpse of Blue Umbrella rushing past.

Blue made a sharp left, ran up the ramp, ducked under the hatchway, ran along to the end of the milkbench, and plunked her head in the feeder.

That's how it's done, fat girls. Watch and learn.

"Just give me one good reason
and I promise I won't ask you any more
Just give me one extra season
so I can figure out the other four."

Blue Umbrella.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Getaway Goat

It is all well and good planning your big bank heist and drilling a hole through the wall and cracking the safe and getting all the money out. But if you can't make a clean getaway, then where are you? Up the creek, that's where.

This is yet another reason why my daughter Hannah Belle has earned the title of Smartest Goat of All Time. You have to be smart to figure out how to get to the grain around here any more. We used to live in a barn but now we live in a massive hay tunnel, with stacks of hay everywhere and a tiny little walkway leading to the hidden grain barrels.

It's like that every year in mid-summer when hundreds of bales come in from the field. So to get to the grain you have to first wiggle through, or over, the gate - which is locked with not one but two chains - navigate the hay tunnels, and then take the lid off the grain barrel.

Well, of course Hannah Belle knows how to do that, and she did it all the time when she was younger. And then she would get busted with her head in the barrel, and she would get a swat on the behind and a good yelling-at and possibly even a brief stint in goat jail. Aka the horse trailer.

Well, who needs that kind of grief. So Hannah Belle has now taken her game to the next level.

She waits patiently for the farmer to go inside. Then leaps, wiggles, and worms her way to the grain. She takes the lid off the drum and knocks it over so that a buffet of grain spills onto the barn floor. She eats what she wants - picking the corn out of the cob mix - listening with one ear cocked for the sound of approaching farmers.

When she hears the kitchen door open, she leaps, wiggles, and worms her way back out, runs to the back of the herd, turns her head away and pretends to be contemplating the meadow down below.

"Who did this?" yells the farmer, upon discovering the spilled grain and knocked-over barrel. Then comes and looks at us. Hannah Belle will be at the back of the pack, napping, or maybe chewing her cud (with her stomach sucked in so she doesn't look too fat.)

"Who did this?" the farmer yells again.

No answer.

"I know it was you, Hannah Belle," the farmer yells. Hannah Belle stretches sleepily.

"I know you did it."

Hannah Belle looks up in pretended surprise at the mention of her name.

'Oh really?' her expression says. "Prove it."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peace Comes Dropping Slow

Well the farmer decided to just leave all the gates open instead of sorting us back to our designated areas. The reason for this is that it gives the FAT MILKERS access to EVEN MORE FOOD.

I am trying to put a subtle emphasis on a few keywords here and there in hopes that someone will notice the unfairness of the FAT MILKERS getting access to EVEN MORE FOOD.

The idea is that now they can go back to the never-ending pasture in the back during the day and eat the lush waist-high grass which is free rather than the newly purchased hay from the Longbranch pastures. But because they are DUMB as well as FAT, they will just sit around like blobs waiting for the newly purchased hay to be brought to them on a platter rather than go out and forage on the free hay. Unless we, the starving classes, show them how to do it.

So the farmer left all the gates open so they could come down into our pasture and we could show them the grass. Sad.

Well, to be fair, Boo and Scouty did go running for the grass at a suprisingly high rate of speed. For those two, any rate of speed is surprising, unless licorice or vanilla wafers are involved.

Anyway, we have been lolling around with the fat milkers for a few days now and wouldn't you know it the turf wars are over. Everyone got bored with them. Everyone agrees Brandy is the Queen. Everyone knows only milkers go on the milkstand. And so now there is peace, if not quiet, since the Nubians are always sighing or singing or snoring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Hay

It is time for The Hay.

So I was going to write a new ode to Hay.

But since the Hay is like Forever, I decided to just link to last year's Ode to Hay.

I used the extra time to start writing a song about The Hay. Here's the first verse:

You're in my blood like holy hay
Tastes so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could eat a bale of hay
And still
I would still be
on my feet

Luckily "feet" rhymes with "wheat," so I think I know where I will be going with the next verse, but right now I better take a nap. I get pretty tired watching sweaty red-faced people carry hay into the barn.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bastille Day

I do not know what day it is where you are, but here it is Bastille Day.

We, the down-belows, led by my daughter Hannah Belle who is an expert at taking matters into her own hands, broke through the lower pasture gate and stampeded the hill and the big barn, taking the fat milkers by storm.

Yes, I said it, they are fat. It is because they get WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. The farmer LETS THEM EAT CAKE while we squabble over little crusts of bread!

Vive la Revolution!
(or should it be 'le Revolution'?)

As soon as we stormed them a battle ensued that roiled and surged around the barn and then spilled over into the front pasture.

Even the babies got into the act, with Winnie, Jr. and Jaybird throwing down to see who would be King of the Babies.

Even Penrose awakened from her slumbers to join our fearless band.

Actually, Brandy is getting a little bit angry, so we may go back to our own pasture. Not because we are afraid, but because we prefer our humble peasant existence.

Thank you for your time, here comes the farmer, I must run.

The Basking Society

If you don't die first, some day you will get old. Some of our best friends are starting to show a little wear and tear. Marquee, who is the finest old goat gentleman you could ever hope to meet and the granddad of just about half the goats here, is starting to have some trouble getting around.

Not to mention his other problems, which are too personal to get into. But let's just say that it seems fairly doubtful he will have too many more kids, because the swimmers apparently fell off the lifeboat.

But that doesn't stop him from enjoying the sunshine. Once you are about ten years old, like Marquee, you really get the hang of basking.

And Spenny the border collie now has gray eyebrows and doesn't get all atwitter about fetching sticks any more. She leaves that to Wendell the Pest, who doesn't even really know how to do it. He understands the part about getting the stick, it's the part about bringing it back that has his little boston terrier brain puzzled.

So Spenny basks, too.

And let's not even talk about Tommy the appaloosa. He is the top hound of all the baskervilles, laying flat out like a giant pancake and soaking up all the rays in sight.

Oh well.