Friday, March 30, 2012

Long Live the Queen

Boxcar Betty used to be mild-mannered and obedient. She even went to one show and walked like a princess and won first place and the judge said: "that is the cutest thing I have ever seen."

Then Betty started hanging around with her mother, Hannah Belle. And Betty vowed never to go to another show.

Hannah Belle always thought that obedience was for losers.

So if someone like Pinky would come down and announce that all the milkers were supposed to go to the milk parlor, Hannah Belle would not even get up, she would just turn her head in a leisurely fashion and pop a fresh cud and drawl: "Says Who?"

Hannah Belle was also a master of the head flip - if you haven't read up in your goat glossary the head flip is very similar to its counterpart in the encyclopedia of human gestures. If a goat gives you the head flip, it is the same as if a person flipped you off.

The meaning is: don't stand near me, don't look at my food, move along and stop blotting out the light, outside under the rain gutter would be a good place for you to stand.  Hannah Belle could keep another goat in the opposite corner of her stall without getting up - why get up? that's so much trouble -  by means of the head flip. Iota to this day really doesn't venture into the nook nearest the door in Hannah Belle's stall. She was head-flipped out of it by a master. That kind of head flip leaves a lasting impression, especially on a small potato like Iota.

Until recently Betty was not much of a flipper.

That's all changed: Betty can hardly stop flipping now.

She flipped Blue, she flipped Belle Pepper, she flipped me, she flipped Izzy, she flipped Moldy (not that Moldy noticed), she flipped all the yearlings. She just flipped.

Now, when she is on the other side of the fence, she even flips Pinky, who by this time weighs about a thousand pounds. But discretion is the better part of flipping, and she doesn't flip Wronny or even Brandy. That's a mark of respect - one world leader to another.

We thought it would be a long time before a Nigerian battled to the top of the ladder.

But just yesterday I heard Sandy asking whether it would be okay to go under the broken fence rail and into the driveway and up the hill to the barn and try to stampede the alfalfa.

And Pebbles gave a stumped look and gazed off into the distance and said, "I guess we better ask Betty."

Long Live the Queen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sky Milk

Iota had an attack of knuckleheadedness yesterday and wriggled onto the wrong side of the fence where she spent almost the whole day bawling for her babies. Anyway her optimistic little daughter on the other side of the fence began to look for milk in the sky as the day wore on.

Peanut often did this, just turning his face up to the clouds and assuming the nursing position, so we call it the Peanut-cloud position. I never saw it but there must have been a day when he did find a little white milk cloud, possibly hovering over the honey tree.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wait a Minute

Well Cherry did it again and it is getting a little ridiculous.

She has already been reprimanded once for kids out of wedlock and this year she didn't get bred because she needed to take some time off  because she milked herself down to skin and bones just like Jimmy.

Just the other day the farmer said to Cherry, "see, Cherry, this vacation is doing you a world of good. You almost look a little bit chubby. Almost."

Well anyway the farmer came out yesterday morning and there was a plaintive meek crying in the background that could only be described as Nubianesque. The farmer showed surprising alertness and within a few minutes said, "wait a minute, that does not sound like Nigerian babies." Nigerian babies are not known for their plaintive meek crying.

Then the farmer went and looked at the five Nigerian babies and they were all asleep in a pile and the plaintive meek crying continued and the farmer said, "wait a minute," and shortly after that was able to discover the two little black doelings that Cherry had just dropped off under the hay feeder in the back stall.

"Wait a minute," said the farmer, and took the two little babies out, and then the farmer said, "wait a minute," because Cherry had very cunningly had them of a perfect size so that they might be little LaManchas or on the other hand they might be big mini-Manchas, so who knew if their father was a Nigerian or a LaMancha. So there was no clue as to their paternal heritage, and then the farmer took them out into the sun to look at them more closely, and although they didn't have wattles or blue eyes it turned out that they weren't really black either but a sort of dark coppery color we haven't seen before that much.

Except of course on Cherry, who is a Big Orange daughter, black with coppery highlights. And on Chaos the Nigerian buck who is so handsome and distinguished. And then they were decidedly on the smallish side, well one was anyway. But their ears were very LaManchaesque.

And in the end the farmer said "I give up." They will be signed up for a DNA test.

Cherry went right back to milking like a fish and when Betty's kids had their horns off yesterday and were feeling blue, two of them gladly gobbled the extra Cherry milk even though they are not bottle babies. Midget, a dyed-in-the-wool Mama's Boy, declined to participate. So he huddled miserably in the corner while Cubby and Clover took a ride on Cherry's Stupefying Milk Train to the Land of Nod.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Void

No one has mentioned it but there is a void. A big void.

It has been so miserable and rainy and snowy and sleety that we cannot start to fill the void.

The void can only be filled when all of us are together in the sun.

It is very easy when you are in your stall listening to rain drumming on the roof to say to yourself, "I certainly am the only one here with the intelligence and savoir faire to become the next Nigerian leader and once I have assumed  my rightful position I will make sure that certain parties do not hog all the oats and I will also announce a day in my honor where the humble peninsula dwellers may come and worship me bringing small totems of swedish fish."

But then you look around and you can read clearly the thought bubbles hanging in the air and it is apparent that everyone is thinking the same thing, except the ones who do not know fancy phrases like savoir faire, and they are thinking the same thing minus the French.

At this point it is embarrassing if you accidentally make eye contact with someone.

But let's be realistic, who could actually be the next leader?

The obvious choices would be Hannah Belle's sisters, Blue or my mother Belle Pepper.

But Blue has RPD (retiring personality disorder) and she can't even get her own children to come when she calls. And my mother Belle Pepper is too much of a free spirit, and too kindly. Next down the line would be Jammies the candy milker, a 7/8 Nigerian and a Captain January daughter like Blue and Belle Pepper. But Jammies has no stomach for herd politics. Not to mention no ears, which are kind of required for this position.

What about Eo, half Nigerian? Completely anti-social.

Abby or Moldy? Too much Oregon. Me? Too Young. Iota or Terra or the yearlings? Too young, too young, too young.

Well who does that leave then?

Stay tuned, as a new ruler emerges from the shadows....(right now pretend you are hearing a dark burst of duh-duh-duh organ music offstage, something that makes you gasp)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ride Wanted (Lakebay to Lagos)

The Key Peninsula Expedition; Day 150.

Dear Diary: Now it is sleeting, with iceballs dancing in the feeders and the wind blowing a gale from all directions at once. I fear it is too late to turn back. Also, I do not know how we got here. Oh wait, I was born here. But someone must know the way back to Nigeria, to the ancestral home of the Dwarfs? Is it on I-5 or further east?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Send In the Lion

Every morning when we wake up it is freezing cold. This morning the fields are carpeted with frost. Today they say don't be surprised by scattered snow. Also don't be surprised by miserable rain and endless mud. It is a little bit like the endless winter of Narnia before the lion comes.

And then on tv Cubby* saw people in shorts walking around in Chicago and Minnesota and New York and all kinds of places where no one would mind if it snowed.

Cubby saw pictures of the cherry blossoms in full bloom along the Tidal Basin, sad news for the Cherry Blossom Festival because the blossoms will be gone by the time the festival starts. Cubby saw schnauzers in puppy cuts skipping along Lake Michigan. Places where it ought to be snowing. Places where if it snowed in the middle of March on the day before the first day of spring it wouldn't be on Page One. It would maybe be down near the bottom of Page Three, next to the news about the man dressed as a giant bunny rabbit who interrupted the city council meeting.

 So anyway ok that's enough. We get it. You made your point. Send in the lion.

 *Cubby has turned into a lap goat and he goes inside to to watch the news

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Iota and the Squirrels

Ok here is the whole family. Iota has been developing a magnificent topknot, I must say.

Beautiful Screamers

In these photos Lori tries unsuccessfully to explain the farm's strict "No Screaming" policy to the squirrels.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iota Be in Pictures

Betty's daughter Iota, a first freshener, took a bipolar approach to labor with the set of chubby boy-girl St. Patrick's Day twins she delivered today, alternating between a Zen state of wide-eyed surreal calm (pictured above) and a state of world-ending earsplitting please-don't-wake-the-dead-oh-sorry-I-already-did horror. The farmer is trying to decide what the twins' names will be, so fine if you have a suggestion. FYI, Patrick and Bridget have already been nixed, along with Sure and Begorrah. I think they look like fat squirrels if that is any help.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sunny Day

Video: The Betty Family enjoys a stroll around the barnyard. Well for some dratted reason this video doesn't work now. Here is the Braille version: triplets hop around, sproing sproing sproing, Betty observes them with satisfaction. Yes, her expression says, these are the best triplets I have seen in a long time. Sproing sproing sproing, drink a little milk, sproing sproing sproing.

Betty's Girl

Yes It's Me

Betty's Boys

Midget at the Milk Bar

Cubby waits his turn

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Formal Feeling

Well it is a known fact that you can't sit around reading Emily Dickinson poems all day long no matter how gloomy you feel because the fence won't fix itself and what about the gate. And what about Betty's triplets, they need names, real names not just Mouseketeer names (one supposedly is going to be called Midget, just because he is tiny and cute.) What about the half-finished feeder, how long is that going to sit in front of the cottage?

Enough is enough.

Anyway finally the farmer noticed that a few thousand things needed doing and trudged around mechanically not getting much done but at least moving.

Penrose caught sight of the farmer and came racing up to the barn, cantering right through the deathly mud patch at the top of the hill so that she came out the other side wearing two pairs of chocolate brown knee socks.

"What do you want Penrose?" the farmer intoned dully when Penrose poked her head over the stall door expectantly.

Penrose did not say anything but wouldn't go away and finally the farmer went and got her some grain and put it in the dish on the milkstand and let Penrose out of the stall.

And Penrose cantered spryly out of the stall and jumped up on the milkstand and began eating ravenously, only looking around occasionally at the farmer as if to say, "come on, let's get started, I don't have all day."

And after a few minutes of sweeping the farmer looked up and saw that Penrose had come into milk and wanted to be milked. Penrose is 9 years old and she hasn't kidded since 2007 and she hasn't settled since 2006 and once again she was back in milk, probably she heard Midget crying in the barn, most likely about the name he has been given, and that caused the milk to begin flowing into her udder because that is all it really takes for a goat like Penrose who comes from 400 years of purebred Swiss Toggenburgs.

Wendell sat nearby, licking his whiskers and quivering in unseemly milk anticipation.

And the farmer actually smiled and sat down and milked Penrose out and even said "I'll be darned."

It was a miracle.

The loaves, the fishes, the milk. Saint Penrose does it again.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Many Thanks

It was a hard, hard, hard day here yesterday, pretty close to the hardest day ever. So there is no easy way to tell it.

Hannah Belle was not progressing in her labor and suddenly started to go downhill fast. The kids had to come out right away. She was rushed into the hospital for a c-section.

The c-section went well, but the kids - beautiful triplet doelings - could not be saved.

Hannah Belle was discharged immediately with an i.v. and a collection of medicines. It was a rough trip home, but we hoped that she would start to improve once she was settled back in her stall with Betty. That did not happen.

Hannah Belle collapsed and died in the farmer's arms about an hour after getting home. That is hard to write, because once it is written down we have no choice but to believe it. And how could something like that, something so completely impossible, be true.

But it is.

Thanks to everyone who kept sending good thoughts to Hannah Belle.

Thanks to Betty's one-day-old son Cubby, who liked to sleep right next to his grandma, and kept her interested in life even when the going was tough.

Thanks to Hannah Belle for all her beautiful kids. Thanks to Hannah Belle for all the joy she brought us for eight years. Thanks to Hannah Belle for being so completely her mother's daughter. Thanks to Hannah Belle for being Hannah Belle. Nobody else could have done it.

Now she is with her mother, and her daughters.

And we are here without her.

Hannah Belle and her Farmer.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Hurry Up Please It's Time

Still no sign. Waiting and holding. Everyone is worn thin (not Bumbles, obviously) with waiting and worry. The only good sign is Hannah Belle gets up and flees (slowly) when the farmer and Lori appear with the bags of ringer's, the syringes, the tubes, the needles, the vitamin b, etc.

Please keep helping Hannah Belle with your thoughts.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Hannah Belle

The sage continues with Hannah Belle a little bit up and then a little bit down. The vet has her on lactated ringer's now and she has been induced so we can get the kids on the ground asap. Meanwhile just before the vet came Betty laid down in a professional fashion and popped out a cute set of triplets. Hannah Belle perked up immediately, she thought the kids were hers, even though they seemed far too polite to be her children. Anyway now we are just waiting and hoping to get the real kids on the ground tout de suite.

Come on, Hannah Belle. Everyone is waiting for you. Hurry up. Get better.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

March On

It is not Leap Day any more thank Goodness and Hannah Belle is feeling a little bit better and she has nibbled a little bit of grass and some huckleberry. She is on round-the-clock care and wearing a brand new Weatherbeeta jacket to keep the chill off.