Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ho ho ho

No time to write. Beautiful Christmas today. We gorged on Swedish Fish and Black Licorice that came in the mail.

Monday, December 23, 2013

And Lo, It Did Not Come to Pass....

We have decided not to waste time on New Year's Resolutions and instead skip right ahead to Our UnResolutions. Things that won't be happening. Not now, not in The New Year, not ever.

1. Henceforth Betty will be practicing kindness and forgiveness and gentle goatly caring in an attempt to spread her message of being the change she wants to see in the world. She will offer all her food to others every day, and she will lay down with the lamb and with the Terror, and they will softly sing 'Kumbaya' and the circle will be unbroken by and by and so on. Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's not going to happen. No. Definitely not.

2. Crumpet will be giving a Christmas concert at the local Lutheran Church after the free Christmas breakfast. She will be playing the harp and the dulcimer and possibly the triangle. She will be accompanied on vocals by Pinky, if Pinky is in heat that day. Otherwise Maddy will perform the yodel-ha-ha under the mistletoe. Oh wait, no, that won't be happening. None of it. Sorry.

3. Willen will stop knocking fences down and he will resolve to eat moderately and practice moderation in all things, especially eating, and he will not hog grain using his patented speed-eating techniques which can really only be analyzed using ultra-slow-motion photography. Oh I'm sorry, I read that wrong, no, my mistake, that is never going to happen.

4. Fred will consume mass quantities of flaxseed which will improve his brain function to such an amazing degree that he will realize that if a fence is only two feet tall, you can actually STEP over it. There is nothing preventing you from STEPPING over it. It is not an insurmountable barrier. ~~ Stop putting ideas in Fred's head, barks the farmer, there is no room for them there. That is not going to happen.

5. Moldy will begin following conversations all the way through and responding appropriately instead of always taking a sidetrack to talk about Oregon and her many outlandish wishes and the other crackpot notions housed in her tiny cranium. Never ever.

6. Pebbles will actually be bred and she will have some little Pebbles. Yeah, right.

7. Belle Starr will stop brown-nosing and sucking up to the farmer. Ha.

8. I, Millie, aka Million Belles, aka Baby Belle Jr., will receive the admiration and notoriety I deserve, and I will replace Crumpet as TMFGITW and I will have my own t-shirt and also a bad hoodie and possibly a cap, one of those high-domed ones like the two-tone hip-hop snapback Gangnam Style one that Psy wears. This actually could happen. It really could. Not.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Past

This is an old movie but it is so good to see some of our old friends that we are going to play it again. Hello Atticus. Hello Harry. Hello Boo. Hello Wendell.

Hello Baby Belle.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Terror's Day Out

The Terror has become a fixture at the local off-leash dog park. Inexplicably, she is very popular with both the dogs and the people. One of her friends is Nibs, a pit bull who could be an advertisement for the breed, fun-loving and rambunctious but with the mouth of a bird dog - Nibs could carry an egg home without breaking it.

Then Pliny, named after the scholar when you first ask (the Elder). But if you ask again, he is really named after the beer. After all, it turns out, Pliny the Elder was one of the first to explore the science of hops. Anyway, The Terror's friend Pliny is a blue weimaraner who explores the science of puppy wrassling to an exhausting degree, which is very good, because a tired Terror is a good Terror. Then there is an exuberant Labradoodle who leaps all up, around, on top, and over the Terror like the Bolshoi Ballet on four legs (without the backstabbing). Then there is a border collie whose name we don't know; she excels in running the Terror ragged.

The goal of the trips to the dog park, which is on the way to the feed mill, is that the Terror sleeps all or most of the rest of the day. Many times the other dog parkers are surprised by the Terror's zeal for adventure; her usual tactic is to run pell-mell up to the biggest dog and start licking its chin and offering to race it anywhere, or to wrassle it, straight up, no point spread requested, she doesn't care how big it is, the bigger the better.

On account of almost always being the smallest dog at the party, the Terror has excellent dog manners. If anything ever looks dicy, she rolls over on her back and stays there. Almost all dogs respect this, it is universal dog language. All right, they will say, but cut it out. Maybe they are old and arthritic, and don't want to chase a Terror around. So they give a warning, the Terror rolls over, and they say " all right. But buzz off." And the Terror buzzes.

Practically every dog knows not to attack a puppy. Practically.

The other day The Terror was at the dog park and a big black dog was standing on the edge of the playfield. There was something about this dog: it didn't respond to any of the dogs that came near it. Even a dog that growls, you can trust - at least it's telling you something. This dog had no reaction to any kind of overture, and several of the older dogs that came near it moved quickly away. The dogs knew something. The farmer moved close to the dog, about ten feet away, making a mental note to keep an eye on it. But being weak-minded, the farmer soon started chatting with one of the other dog parkers about chanterelles.

Just in the nick of too late, the farmer looked up to see the Terror barreling up to the big black dog, where she crouched underneath it, tail wagging madly, to lick its chin. In one fluid motion without warning or preamble it picked her up by the neck, flipped her high into the air, then pinned her to the ground when she came down, snarling in deadly earnest. The Terror, a tough girl who never cries, was crying hysterically. The farmer surprised the black dog by booting it sideways at the hips, then grabbed the Terror as the black dog's owner simultaneously arrived to pull it away.

People rushed up to see if the Terror was okay. Being a puppy, and made of rubber, she was no worse for wear, except for a dribble of blood under her ear. Her snappy new nineteen dollar padded jacket had suffered a puncture wound, though. The farmer tucked her under an arm, like a football, and started to leave.

The black dog's owner offered an explanation to the people who were now clustered around him:
"He doesn't like it when dogs come up to him."

Several people looked at him grimly, nodding: that was plain to see.

Nobody asked the obvious question, because you always think of the obvious question later, when you are halfway home: why is he at the off-leash park if he doesn't like dogs?

A goat that doesn't understand goat society - usually a  pampered bottle baby, or sometimes just a goat from Oregon -  is a menace to itself. On the other hand a dog that doesn't understand dogginess, a dog that doesn't speak the universal dog language, is a menace to society. That is what the farmer explained long-windedly to the Terror as they drove home, not noticing that the Terror was fast asleep, and planning to sleep the rest of the day.

"So in conclusion," the farmer wrapped up, "I hope this has been a valuable lesson to you. In future just stay away from any dogs who do not have dog manners."

The Terror snored gently.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Well today it is freezing and going to stay freezing for the next week which I personally don't care for. It isn't the worst thing that could happen but it isn't something that I personally care for. Of everyone who hates the cold, though, Fred is probably the worst. He does not even like his feet to touch the ground when it is this cold. Today he is headbobbing around like a Tennessee Walker, yanking his feet up knee-high every time they touch the ground. You would think he would get used to it after a few steps but no, every step is a horrible shock to him.

Anyway as far as Winnie Eo knew right away what would happen.

"Oh no," she said when the farmer started musing about Winnie, the plight of poor Winnie, a big shot growing depressed without underlings, and before you can say snapchat Winnie got moved out of the big milker pasture and in with Betty and Betty's ragtag army of half-pints and yearlings, a motley crew which includes four babies, Isabel the newcomer, Sandy the Screamer, Clara Belle the dingaling, Clover who does't have a "the" yet, and sometimes Licorice who comes and goes as she pleases. All Nigerians.

Winnie brightened immediately and swaggered over to a corner of the Betty area where she made herself a king-sized bed in the straw and starting delivering ultimatums. No one comes inside this triangle, no one touches the food on the tray until I have had my pick, this end of the hay feeder is off-limits, it is a V.I.G.* area only for me, and also for my guests if I ever have any but I am not planning on it, and no one shall touch the farmer or make eye contact with the farmer, the farmer is mine, etc. It was all very Kramer-at-the-dojo.

Eo of course was pleased because she had thought Winnie would be coming to our small neck of the woods. But the Betty enclave is an even smaller pond, and Winnie is now the CEO. It just goes to show - anyone can be a big fish. You just have to find a small enough pond.

*Very Important Goat

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Little Pond

Winnie is one of the farmer's pets and she always has been. Or maybe she even thinks the farmer is her pet. Anyway she acts like she owns the farmer. If someone comes around while she is standing by the farmer, she goes into a headbutting frenzy, doing rapid-fire Sugar Ray Leonard type jabs until she has cleared a circle all around the farmer. Just go ahead and dare to enter that circle. Go ahead, see what happens.

Over the years we have been subjected to torrents of Winnie comparison. Winnie is always the milker the beginners milk. Anyone can milk Winnie. She will stand patiently all day long while a two-year-old milks her. Also she gives tons of milk and she has a beautiful udder. Back in the day she was our prettiest LaMancha ever. When Winnie is on the milkstand half the time the farmer calls everyone's attention: "does everyone see how Winnie is standing?"

"Does everyone see how Winnie waits quietly without stamping even though the grain is gone?"

"Does everyone see how Winnie stands like a lamppost while we are drawing blood?"

"Did everyone see how much milk Winnie gave today?"

"Did everyone see how Winnie walked nicely back into the stall without trying to escape into the grain room just because the door is open?"

Bla bla bla bla.

Anyway the thing about Winnie is she is a people goat and she is not a goat's goat. She is one of the Sopranos and when she was young it seemed she might end up as the herdqueen; after all, she was Brandy's oldest daughter. But she didn't have the knack for it. And as soon as Wronny, her little sister, was a yearling, it was clear who would inherit the throne. And after that Winnie gradually slipped into the background.

She is as big as a house so no one ever really bothered her, but after her mother died this summer the farmer would often look out and see Winnie standing alone in the pasture with her head down. She didn't really fit in with the Wronny family, even though she is their aunt, and the Nubian crosses made a point of ignoring her. Even Winnie's own daughters preferred Wronny. So the farmer would look out, and there would be Winnie, gazing off at Mt. Rainier, or staring blankly down the hill. She is the oldest LaMancha here now, ten years old, and even though she still looks like a 5-year-old, she started getting aches and pains, and a week or so ago she hurt her foot somehow and wouldn't join the scrum around the feeder. The other bigs jostled her too much.

"What are we going to do with you?" the farmer asked.

She really only looks happy when the farmer is there, scratching along her shoulder blades and pretending she is still magnificent, even though she is getting a little bit rickety, and if the truth be told she is a little down on her pasterns.

The problem is that, in her mind, she is a big grand champion worldbeating fish. And she has no pond.

"Oh no," said Eo, as the farmer stood scratching Winnie with a puzzled expression.

~~~~ stay tuned ~~~~~

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If It Rings, Don't Answer

Well today is Thanksgiving here. We have it on a Thursday. Right now it is gray and foggy but it isn't raining. So I guess we are thankful for that. Maddy the Chuckler aka the Sheriff of Crazytown went out of heat so I guess we are thankful for that. Her desperate yodels are really almost too much to bear. If you would like to get a headache just stand within five acres of Maddy when she is yodel-chuckling over to Fred.

Yodel-ha-ha, yodel-ha-ha, all day long.

What do you hear when you are trying eat your meager breakfast? Yodel-ha-ha.

What do you hear when you are trying to snooze in the winter sun? Yodel-ha-ha.

It is not a ringtone anyone would choose to download. Or is it? The Yodel-ha-ha ringtone?

Hmm, sometimes things are the opposite of what they seem, like Moldy's magical wishing powers, which seemed like a pain in the udder when we first discovered them. But it turns out we probably just weren't using them right. As you know, you must always use your superpowers for good, if you have any.

Perhaps this is also true of the yodel-ha-ha. Perhaps the yodel-ha-ha is a strange gift from Fifth Dimension, something to be thankful for, and we have just been looking it in the mouth with short-sighted criticality.

For today, just in case, we will be thankful for the yodel-ha-ha, the possible future ringtone that goes viral around the world and wins us a million dollars worth of alfalfa in the Best Ringtone Ever contest, causing me as a paragon of gracious humble dignity to give the most beautiful acceptance speech the world has ever known.

For tomorrow, maybe not.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Moldy Wishes, Caviar Dreams

Everyone is looking at Moldy with suspicious awe because as you know the other day Moldy looked out of the shed and said "I wish it would stop raining." This was in the middle of a downpour which we thought would probably last until about February.

She just came right out and said it, just like that. "I wish it would stop raining."

The next day it stopped raining. It has not rained since. They say it will not rain until AFTER Thanksgiving. They don't know anything, but still, that is what they say.

It has put us all on edge and we are tiptoeing around Moldy. Even Eo is giving her a wide berth. Yesterday Dinky Dollarbird, Blue Jaye's greedy little daughter, was elbowing around the feeder and she stuck her pointy head into Moldy who was busy stuffing her face and Moldy stopped eating for a minute and said, "I wish you wouldn't do that," and all of a sudden the Boston Terror who has been on strict probation leaped into view out of nowhere and nipped Dinky in the pastern and Dinky took off running and didn't come back until the breakfast was all gone.


Later that day Rosie t-boned Moldy, trying to get her away from the new hay, and Moldy said calmly "I wish you would stop that," which Rosie ignored, taking a step back to get into a better t-boning position and her foot went into a pothole and she twisted it and fell down and she has been limping around ever since.

Another coincidence?

Eo is working on a plot to get Moldy to say, "I wish a ton of third cutting alfalfa would fall from the sky," but she wants to be sure to do it correctly so that she isn't standing underneath when the alfalfa plummets from the clouds. And so that it doesn't crash through the barn roof. Also she wants to make sure it isn't reject alfalfa, or alfalfa with cheatgrass in it. This is one of Eo's problems, she always considers too many angles.

Misfiring wishes could be a serious hazard, though. Who needs that kind of headache. The problem with Moldy is you can't control her, she might say anything.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Drawing Near

The CRUMPET t-shirts arrived early so we will do the drawing today at NOON PST. If you would like to assist Crumpet in her attempt to rule the world, you may do so here until 11:58 a.m. PST. May the Crumpetude be with you.

AND THE WINNER IS (chosen at random by the random integer generator) : P G from California!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Mainly on the Plain

We think it was Moldy who said it or it might have been Abby. Nobody in the Baby Belle family would have said it and a LaMancha would never say it, LaManchas come from LaMancha, which is in Spain where the "Man-of" also comes from, and LaMancha in case you didn't know is a high hot arid plain. Arid means dry in case you don't have a dictionary.

So anyway we think it was Moldy, back on that day in August when the flies were buzzing and the sun was beating down on our metal roof and the self-absorbed milkers were hogging all the good shade. We think it was her. She said "I wish it would rain."

And so now lo and behold we are once again up to our pasterns in mud and sitting around waiting for a "considerable" rainstorm with 100% chance of rain predicted. It is already raining, so that is how they know there is a 100% chance of rain.

Great, thanks, good job, way to go, Moldy. And here is the worst part. We are all sitting around the shed glaring at Moldy and of course she doesn't even notice it because she is from Oregon and she is lying around clueless as usual staring out the door at the mud awaiting us when we have to go and get our breakfast and then as if it isn't bad enough right out of the blue she says, "I wish it would stop raining."

Great! Perfect! Thanks, Moldy, we will appreciate that in August when the ground is cracked and the grass is all dead and brown and burnt to a cinder! Way to go, Moldy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Rainbow of Dibs

Okay this is the last post about the Crumpet t-shirts. The Crumpet t-shirts will be available soon in a rainbow of colors. That is if you consider a rainbow to be made of three muted colors, dull navy blue, olive-ish green, and drabby brown (the company calls it chocolate.)  Okay the Crumpet t-shirt is also available in a rainbow of sizes. That is if you consider a rainbow to be made up of the sizes M-L-XL or 2XL. We do not know that many small goat people so we did not order smalls when we sent the order in a couple of weeks ago.  That may have been a mistake.

They are organic t-shirts so will shrink slightly, "but not too bad" according to the printing company. The printing company is very optimistic about everything. That doesn't seem to bode well.  They probably don't even have any t-shirts. The farmer is going to put an order form up on the web site soon but there aren't very many shirts since they are bound to be unpopular so if you want one you better send a dibs. Just send an email to the farmer at herronhillATgmailDOTcom and say what size and color you want and say a backup color and size if the first one isn't available. If you did the link contest and you win your shirt will be free. They probably will end up costing about $15 which is a lot of money for a t-shirt and then on top of that you will have to pay the shipping which will probably cost a couple of dollars for your future dust rag but there is a lot of dust in this world so maybe that's ok. Or you could also use it as a buck rag, So there are a rainbow of uses, if you consider a rainbow to be made up of three uses (t-shirt, dust rag, buck rag).

Sample dibs for those confused by the rainbow of information:

I [YOUR NAME HERE] would like to dibs one DRAB GREEN [or DRAB BROWN or DRAB BLUE] t-shirt, size M [or L or XL or 2XL]. If DRAB GREEN is not available, please send me DRAB BROWN. If size L is all gone, please send me size M. When my order is confirmed I will send you a check or a PayPal or something. Thank you for considering my dibs. Faithfully yours in Crumpetude etc.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Winter Doldrums

Well the Crumpet Project has really taken off and the Crumpet t-shirt will soon be arriving. Can you imagine the excitement. We had a big windstorm and the roof blew off the baby buck shack and the baby bucks are in the barn until the farmer's back goes back into alignment and then their shed will be fixed and back down they will go. The hot wire got fixed in the front pasture and this put the kibosh on the free blackberries the milkers were eating on the neighbor's side of the fence. Willen kicked the front panel out of the horse run-in so the farmer has to go and get some more plywood to fix it.

"Thank you Willen," said the farmer. "I was wondering how I was going to spend all my free time and now I know." Willen kept a neutral expression on his face, always best to play it straight if you're not sure what's going on.

The Terror got put on strict lifetime probation for running down to the street and so now she never goes outside unless she is on her tie-out or attached to the farmer's belt loop. What a relief, no more ankle-biting.

The new Isabel is here and she has no personality whatsoever but at least she isn't from Oregon so we can understand her when she talks, which is never, because she is the retiring type and she spends most of her time under the feeder where she can't be t-boned by the Wrath of Khan which is Betty's new name now that she is in heat. When Betty is in heat she is the Wrath of Khan.

Speaking of heat Cherry came in heat also and she did her trademark part-Nubian caterwauling at the gate, just standing there all day playing the part-Nubian bagpipes and even forgetting to eat her dinner.

Abby my BFF decided to go in the front pasture with Pebbles, leaving me down below which is fine because it's much better here. But it hurts one's feelings. That's ok, I don't care, I have my daughter and my mother and that is really all I need.

"After everything you did for her," said my mother, shaking her head.

"She was a nobody until she met you," said my daughter.

"I'm ok," I said with gracious humble bravery, which is how I do everything.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Obedience and the Debt Ceiling

Well it finally happened. Crumpet came into heat. She went and stood by the fence outside Chaos' pen, and she talked to him about the debt ceiling. She told him how worried she was about the debt ceiling, on account of it being so near to the fiscal cliff, and even though goats are pretty good at walking up and down cliffs, she didn't know if she could walk on the ceiling. It would depend what kind of ceiling it was.

"Isn't it a debt ceiling?" blubbered Chaos.

"Isn't what a debt ceiling?" asked Crumpet, and then the whole conversation started again, and this went on three or four times in completely circular fashion and then finally the farmer hove into sight with the Terror a few inches behind and off went Crumpet, up to the big barn for incarceration purposes, and the last thing I heard was something about the Federal Reserve and the full faith and credit of the farm and the distant sound of the Terror yapping idiotically, and then there was just the blap of a door slamming shut and after that nothing but the sound of Chaos, standing by the fence, saying over and over into thin air: "isn't it a debt ceiling?"

Feeder Pest
The Terror is failing puppy obedience, it is only to be expected from such a wayward dog. There is supposed to be an exam this week but we already know what score she will get:

Heeling: F
Leaving Dropped Treats Alone on the Floor: F-
Down: F
Come When Called (Or Ever, for that matter): F
Sit: C

It is just not the kind of test she is going to be good at. The kind of test she would be good at would be:

Run Around Insanely Knocking Other Puppies Over: A
Pee on the Floor at the Most Inopportune Time (Carpets only, Linoleum Doesn't Count): A
Eat the Farmer's Glasses: A+
Sit in the Hay Feeder When We Are Trying to Eat, Biting our Noses When we put our Heads in: A

Saturday, October 05, 2013


The blog has gotten very boring lately with a lot of drivel about goat shows. There has hardly been anything about Crumpet, who is still the most famous goat in the world even if nobody has ever heard of her. Crumpet has moved into the down-below goat shack, the one with the leaky roof, oh wait they all have leaky roofs, anyway the one where everyone who didn't go to the Fair lives. This includes Moldy, Blue, Jammies, Jinxy, Dinky Dollarbird, Blue Jaye, that one that nobody can remember her name if she even has one, and the other one that cries for no reason, just as a hobby.

The coyotes ate all the pears and so they have stopped creeping around our pasture at night which has stopped the farmer from hollering and shining the big spotlight and shooting off the .22 that no one can get aimed - "has this gun been sighted in?" everyone asks after they shoot it and miss by a mile, how surprising, usually they are like Daniel Boone and could shoot the hat off an acorn, must be something wrong with the rifle. Anyway it is a lot easier to sleep without gunfire or coyotes.

It is turning into fall very quickly and last week for a while it seemed like it might be January with the wind blowing a gale and great flapping sheets of rain. The farmer took Crumpet up to the barn for a ceremonial measuring and Crumpet had not grown at all. If you have any suggestions for making Crumpet grow, send them in. Licorice did not work. If she stays this shrunken she is going to go to puppy agility with the Terror, since carrying the candy pack is not a full-time job.

Eo has a new plan to take over the world but she won't tell anyone what it is. Be on the lookout though. She is not one to tangle with. Moony is now the size of a Shetland Pony and still drinking milk. The new buckling came and he is staying in the barn for a few days to meet his roommates and he smells like a bag of rotten fish that has been marinated in a barrel of cat pee and then left out in the hot sun for a few days. For this reason I went back down to the down-below pasture and my mother went with me. And Belle Starr too.

If we could get on Yelp we would do a barn review: one star, barn is nice but service is very slow and surly, and right now it smells like sardine-flavored cat pee. Proprietor does not seem to care. AVOID.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Enter the Dragon

The farmer went out of town and it poured. There was a lightning storm and the power went out. The tractor stopped running and the Terror had a potty training relapse, the worst kind of relapse there is. Laddy got stuck in the neighbor's chicken coop, he walked in there to steal some alfalfa that belongs to their goats and when he got in it was too narrow to turn around - it was one horse long but only about a half a horse wide, and when he tried to back out he kept banging his big butt against the wall so he stood there stamping and crying like a Nubian horse and he had to be extracted manually and just in the nick of time because it was plain to see that he had started thinking Kung Fu thoughts - "I could kick this whole place down," -  if thinking isn't too strong a word for the type of cerebral activity he is known for.

Anyway it was a long week and no one really enjoyed it except the farmer because the farmer was in Virginia where it was bright and sunny all day long every day, with the temperature around 80, and no chores to do except eat cake and lasagna. "I think I will have a little more," the farmer kept saying. The farmer came home fatter than ever, looking like a dry yearling who lives at a feedstore where the grain is free choice and the alfalfa buffet never closes.

It was decided the farmer would go on a spinach diet since the unharvested spinach was running amok in the garden after all that rain.

But just then the mail arrived and lo and behold! Two more big bags of black licorice! On the label the licorice was clearly addressed to me, it said "Millie Beautifulgoat," but the bags did not get delivered to me, instead they were shared among the masses, which is not legal when a bag is addressed to a specific goat. In fact I believe that kind of mail-tampering is a felony but no one listened to me, what a surprise.

The feast was back on, even Kung Fu Laddy got some. Sandy, the farmer's new pet, the goat formerly known as the Screamer, feasted three times a day on my licorice as she was milked on the stand to get her production up for the Fair.

"Why can't some of you be more like Sandy," the farmer said pointedly, looking at Clover and Clara Belle, not to mention Betty. Their production has gone to hell in a handbasket since the farmer went out of town. "You are going to look pretty ridiculous at the Fair with your little thimbles of milk."

Sandy simpered infuriatingly from the milkstand, she is just like her grandmother Moldy. She is as bad as Crumpet only worse. She puts Pebbles to shame. She gobbled five pieces of licorice in a row.

"I could kick this whole place down," said Eo bitterly, watching the black whips disappear.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Even Zinnia

Zinnia took a thrashing in the licorice contest and so we won the bet but we had no idea who we were betting against because if we did we would have bet a backhoe or a flatbed trailer with brakes that work or a new roof for the cottage because usually if the loser ever pays off a bet like that a few weeks go by and then a pocket-size bag of stale Twizzlers arrives and Wronny and Jessie hog them all and no one else even really cares, we look at each other shrugging, who cares those are stale anyway.

But that is not what happened. Almost the next day a huge box arrived on the FedEx truck and the farmer was pleased and said, "oh that is the new disposal," and carried the box up to the house, commenting absently to The Terror that "I thought it would be heavier." The box did not even get opened right away, that is how disposal-like it seemed, but when it did get opened it revealed what seemed like a hundred bags of top quality liquorice (with a Q.) It was an awe-inspiring sight, like a visit from the Dalai Lama or a truckload of third cutting alfalfa backing up to the barn.

We were all giddy with delight since it was decreed that the licorice would be shared amongst all the masses. "Even Zinnia," said Wronny. "Even Zinnia," we intoned reverently. And thus it was carried out but I think some of the bags disappeared into the farmhouse.

top tenIt is now the time for self-congratulation because if you don't congratulate yourself who will, so we extend our heartiest kudos to ourselves for being who we are, and we also congratulate Cora Belle the Horrible, who made it onto the Top Ten list, Pinky's daughter Tea who won the Skagit County 4H Fair, Chella's daughter Calico who made it to the state fair, Sammy the Terror who learned how to sleep through the night without peeing, Sandy the Screamer who has quietened down and become a real milker - head down in the feed dish with no questions asked, Spenny the angel-saint-dog who has never offered to even snap at the Terror. And we also pre-congratulate ourselves on the upcoming State Fair where even if we win nothing we will have a really good time. We are who we are.

God Bless Us Every One. Even Zinnia.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And They're Off

Well the Super Bowl smackdown finally came on the schedule and Zinnia the Ninnia aka the Beady-Eyed Sourpuss was turned out in the milker pasture with Wronny. She went out there with her two kids, A.J. and Edie, who are inexplicably sweet and adorable although I guess it is not that inexplicable since Chaos is their father.

Okay, first of all, confidence: what is it? Is it stealing lunches from little kids? Is it t-boning the slow-witted? Is it sneaking up behind an intelligent, kindly, extremely correct (except for the chandelier udder) Nigerian and biting its ear while it is trying to take a nap? That's right, Zinnia, I am talking to you. The answer to all these questions, especially the last one, is no.

Confidence comes from deep within the rumen of the true herdqueen. Confidence is its own reward. Confidence is like a little bird that flies NORTH for the winter. WHY NOT TRY SOMETHING NEW? Confidence babbles happily like an Alpine brook; it knows its way down the mountain. Confidence is the peace that passes understanding, like a bucket of warm Cherry trance-milk. Ommmm. Confidence lies sleeping in the sun, because there is no need to get up.

Getting up is exactly what Wronny did not do when Zinnia swaggered into the milker pasture radiating what she thought was confidence. Oh Wronny saw her, but really, some things really do not merit one's personal attention. Wronny flicked an eye over at two of her underling lieutenants, Elbie and Schwinnie, and they took off like a shot - yes, My Queen! - in Zinnia's direction.

Zinnia quivered out one last swagger and then realized too late that her confidence was really arrogance. Her brain shut down in a flood of panic. She wheeled and ran. And ran.

And ran, with the portly Hounds of Hell warm - Hot burns too many calories - on her heels.

Wronny yawned and went back to sleep. Ommm.

Losers please send licorice (black.)

c/o Millie
Herron Hill Dairy
Home Wa 98349.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Staring Circle

It has been a beautiful August here, no rain except a few sprinkles and not too hot, only in the 80s or so and sometimes in the 70s. The farmer got out the clippers and has systematically been shaving the fair candidates to see what is in there under all that hair. Blue Jaye was shaved and she looked beautiful but she isn't making much milk. Clara Belle also looked beautiful. Clover did too.

Marti was shaved and sometimes she looks pretty good, sometimes she has the topline of a brontosaurus. She just keeps rising like a loaf of bread dough and she can't always be punched down. One day the rear is too high, the next day the front, the third day she looks good.

Sandy was shaved and she looked surprisingly good except for her head, which looks like a miniature donkey's head, with a wattle on each side only one wattle is under her ear where it is supposed to be and the other kind of dangles lopsidedly along her neck which isn't a good look. Also they aren't the same size, one is a grape and one is more of a ping pong ball. When everyone saw what Sandy looked like under her hair we cleared a small circle around her for staring and now she travels around with her own little buffer zone, the staring circle, which no one ventures into.

"Oh dear," said Abby, when she saw her daughter Sandy in her hairless glory. Pebbles did not get shaved because she did not settle so she won't be going to the fair. Pebbles is the pretty twin. Sandy is the unsung twin, and there was quite a chorus of unsinging when she came out of the cutting salon in the barn.

"Is she adopted?" asked Crumpet. Crumpet is one of Sandy's little sisters.

Derringer, one of Clover's daughters, also got a haircut. "Hmm," said the farmer, when Derringer came prancing out.

This does not bode well for Derringer. Usually when the farmer says "Hmm," the farmer then says,  "I don't expect her to come in last." And sure enough, a few minutes later the farmer remarked to The Terror as Derringer went pronging back to the Pear Tree Pasture, "I don't expect her to come in last."

The Terror was busy eating hoof clippings and didn't say anything.

For Derringer, sadly, this probably means a lifetime of goat shows, unless she has the good sense to grow her udder out in the shape of a chandelier, which is what I did, and I have never been anywhere near a ferris wheel and I wouldn't know an elephant's ear from a corn dog.

Anyway the farmer allowed that we might get a couple of ribbons at the fair.

"Especially since we have a secret weapon this year," the farmer explained to The Terror.

The Terror was asleep by now, and didn't say, "Secret Weapon? What Secret Weapon?"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

We Are The World

A funny thing happened and that was we almost forgot about Moldy coming from Oregon. In fact the other day Crumpet scoffed when someone told her Moldy was from Oregon. Moldy is Crumpet's grandmother.

"Moldy was here the day I was born. She has been here her whole life."

I guess Crumpet thinks the world sprang into existence on the day she arrived. The whole planet was made specially for her, even the alfalfa and the leaves on the trees, and before she was born it was just all stuffed into a closet somewhere or the trunk of someone's car, no need for it. But when she was born Snap, same day delivery, get The World out of the trunk, Crumpet is here. And don't forget Moldy.

Which just goes to show how delusional she is when we all know that the world would have started when Baby Belle was born years ago, back when there was no Oregon, only Walla Walla and the Key Peninsula. 

That is what Izzy was explaining to Crayola when she got t-boned into the side of Winnie's shed by one of the LaMancha yearlings, one of the fat ill-mannered ones, oh wait they are all fat and ill-mannered. Anyway the LaManchas insisted that the world started in Port Orchard, just north of here, because that's where Brandy was born.

I guess there is some truth to that, so we will include that in our history book if we ever write it, that when the world started there was only Walla Walla, the Key Peninsula, and Port Orchard. That seemed settled until little Marti, the great-granddaughter of our old scatterbrained Stacy said "what about the Nubians?"

Because it's true, the Nubians were here, scatterbrained Stacy and beautiful kind Marti, when the world began, so we really ought best to include them in the history book, at least in the foreword if there isn't room for them in any of the more interesting chapters, so that is what we will do.

"But where did the Nubians come from?' asked Crumpet, and this was a puzzler that stumped even the Nubian crosses themselves and there was a long silence until someone said, "Mars I think."

That sounded right so we took a note of it. 

Walla Walla, The Key Peninsula, Port Orchard, Mars. Thus it is written.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Main Event

Clover was able to t-bone the Terror as it was doing some fancy scurrying around the apple tree. It scurried right into her, looking behind at Clara Belle and practically t-boning itself, although Clover took the credit. Of course the Terror gave a yelp and the farmer came running to pick it up. So that is good, we scored one point, our first. It did not go to the grain bin afterward, which is odd. I hope this doesn't mean there is a new policy banning grain gorging as the treatment of choice for those with hurt feelings.

Crumpet has flopped out as a show goat and as a milk goat and her piano playing lacks artistry to say the least, so the farmer is going to make her the new ambassador goat and she will have to go around to Harvest Tours and things like that wearing a little backpack stuffed with tootsie rolls which Filbert used to do as the official Candy Goat before he got well and truly sick of it. Sad news for Crumpet. Oh well, somebody has to do it.

Zinnia whose name is really Zenyatta had the two surprise kids, Chaos kids, and she is very pleased because now she has a private stall in the barn and she gets special food. She is one of the Brandy style parents, always hovering and taking umbrage at real and imagined threats to her darling drab tots. She tried to t-bone the Terror but the Clover incident had already taught it to use its side mirrors and it dodged spryly out of the way, laughing.

The two new babies have their father's personality, which is nice for everyone since Zinnia is a beady-eyed sourpuss who thinks she owns the whole peninsula.

The appearance of the Zinnia twins means that there is an epic smackdown on the horizon: in a couple of weeks Zinnia will go out with the milkers and she and Wronny will come head to head and I don't know who will win but I do know I want a ringside seat. It will be a real Category 5 Goatnado.

Just my opinion, but it will be a cold day in Honolulu when the Sourpuss takes the Soprano.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Two Tiny Boats Against the Current

The Terror inspects Eau-de-vie, Brandy's great-great-granddaughter, and appears to find her satisfactory. We have learned that the Terror is supposed to be called "Sammy."

Sammy and Edie.

The Water of Life

Plan B we decided was to wait and see as far as the Boston Terror goes. We can wait. Just try to wait us out some time and see who wins. We can wait.

Because time will tell. Time always tells.

Time told us that Pebbles wasn't going to kid because she was due a week ago and she hadn't done anything and since she was the last one on the kidding chart the farmer rolled up all the baby towels and took them inside until next year.

And time told us that Brandy would not be with us much longer which we knew anyway since she was several hundred years old but still one of the farmer's favorites, who knows why. Yesterday she was just so tired so she had a lot of special treats and several apples, which she loves, sliced thin and fed by hand and her spirits were good and she wasn't in pain but she wouldn't get up.

"Will you get up, Brandy?" the farmer asked. But she wouldn't get up.

Today was the day.  In the morning she ate a few apple slices, and had a shot of vitamins and a shot of banamine in case she was in pain. The farmer sat with her and petted her along the neck, which she usually doesn't allow.  Brandy drank a quart of warm water with electrolytes, which made the farmer think she would rally.

"She is a tough old bird," the farmer said to the Boston Terror. The Boston Terror goes everywhere with the farmer.

The farmer got up to go do some more chores and Brandy woke with a start and called after the farmer and the farmer turned around and looked back at Brandy for a long minute. One of those looks between two old friends where only they know what it means.

Then the farmer turned away and went up to look for the paint rollers. And when the farmer came back she was gone.

That ought to be the end of the story. But it isn't. It never is.

The farmer went and started digging a grave for Brandy and the ground was so hard and dry - we have hardly had a drop of rain since June - that the farmer soon had to stop.  The farmer dragged the hose over and ran some water into the ground to try to soften it and then started digging again and then hit a shelf of hard clay and had to stop again and this went on for a while and then in spite of always hating to cause people any trouble the farmer left a message for the kindly neighbors with the backhoe and before long they arrived and lickety split they had the nicest grave dug and that may sound like cold comfort but there is something to be said for a really nice grave, especially for a herdqueen like Brandy.

Well just as Brandy was being laid to rest with an apple and a handful of dandelions there was a distant peeping cry from across the other side of the pasture. The farmer ignored the cry, and thanked the neighbors profusely because after all what is nicer than someone helping you dig a grave on a moment's notice. Nothing, really.

The neighbors left and the farmer fed the Terror and the girls behind the barn and then there was the peeping again so the farmer did a head count and came up one short and so the farmer pushed open the gate and hustled toward the cabana looking for Pebbles but the cabana was empty and Pebbles was lying indolently in the shade at the top of the hill, still fat but still not pregnant. On the way back out the farmer passed Winnie's little shed and happened to look inside and there was Zinnia, wearing a guilty expression, along with a pair of newborn twins, a boy and a girl, still wet.

"How did you get here?" the farmer asked, nonplussed. They didn't answer.

Their names are going to be Applejack and Eau-de-vie. Those are two kinds of brandy. And if you ever had seventh grade French you know that eau-de-vie means "water of life." The water that always keeps flowing.

When we look at them we will think of Brandy. And the backhoe. And the kindly neighbors. And the water of life. And the way time always tells.

7 Cedars Yogi's Brandy 4/18/2000 - 8/3/2013
Herron Hill CB Eau-de-Vie 8/3/2013 - .............

Friday, August 02, 2013

Plan A

It was decided by the power that be (Eo) that Crumpet would approach the Boston Terror and explain to it our rules for dog behavior and the consequences that might result from any rule-breakings.

"Why me?" asked Crumpet.

"Why not?" said Eo, and this proved to be a stumper. Crumpet went up toward the barn to explain the rules.

1. No chasing.
2. No barking.
3. No unsolicited opinions or offers of fake "assistance." This includes "helping" anyone to finish their dinner.

We watched with interest as Crumpet sallied forth, radiating confidence and bureaucracy despite her hamsterly size. She had gotten almost to the barn when the Terror came bounding toward her in an unnervingly friendly manner, barking gaily. Nonetheless we expected Crumpet to deliver our ultimatums and bylaws in a professional fashion but instead she turned tail and ran in abject terror, with a 4-inch tall Boston Terror nipping delightedly at her pasterns.

"The Most Famous Goat in the World," Jammies mentioned mournfully as Crumpet pronged toward the cabana.

"All right," said Eo, "let's go to Plan B."

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Boston Terror and The Idiots

There was a hushed discussion with no one able to agree.

"This boston terror is very little. Only about 4 inches tall,"  said the down-below Nubian crosses, led by Cherry. "We think it will not be a problem."

"Idiots," said Eo.

"Four inches is a lot," said Crumpet. "Two inches would be better."

"Can we shrink it?" asked Jammies. "Is there a way to shrink it?"

"I have heard that things can be shrunk through selective breeding," Betty chimed in.

"Let's breed it to Chaos," suggested Belle Starr. "I have noticed he is not very particular."

"That is not what selective means," Betty opined.

"Idiots," snapped Eo.

"It's fine right now where the farmer mostly carries it around," mused Elbie, "but what is going to happen when the farmer puts it down?"

"On the ground, you mean?" asked Pinky and Moony together.

"Idiots," said Eo.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Royal Baby

Eo was the first to see it because she is always on the lookout for bad news. When she saw it she did a little gymnastics maneuver, swinging her butt around so that she could face it directly head on without looking any bigger than necessary and positioned to flee for the hills at the earliest possible moment.

"What is it Eo?" asked Moony, lumbering over looking like a tiny moon-spotted whale encased in blubber since she is a long yearling and her mother still lets her nurse even though she has to practically lie on the ground to reach the udder since she is so tall not to mention wide.

Eo said nothing just stared up toward the farmhouse with gimlet eyes where it was just barely visible, just the top of its head peeking up above the grass.

"It couldn't be," gasped Belle Pepper, swinging her tail around behind her. Blue came up and swung her tail. I swung my tail. Champagne swung her tail. Cherry swung her tail. Belle Starr swung her tail. Jammies swung her tail. Jinxy swung her tail. Pinky swung her tail. We all stood there staring.

"It couldn't be," said Belle Pepper again.

"What is it Eo?" asked Moony again.

"It's bad news," snapped Eo.

"What is it?" Moony asked everyone at large.

"It's another one," said Belle Pepper, somberly.

"Another what?" asked Moony.

Betty finally said it out loud. "Another boston terror."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The End of the Line

There was a show. There was too much to do the farmer did not want to go to the show. Blue Jaye looked beautiful, she had spent two weeks learning how to go around in a circle without pancaking or swordfish walking, then all of a sudden she got lopsided and her production dropped like a stone and the farmer said forget it, just forget it, I am not taking Sandy the screamer and Morchella is too fresh and Clara Belle really has milked off a little too much weight and Crayola is still limping from hurting her foot and it would take four hours to clip Marti and Clover won't bag up so forget it just forget it let's just forget about it what is the point anyway it is a little ridiculous walking around in a circle with a goat on a hot day when the fence is falling down and the gates have yet to be hung and it costs a lot of gas money to get to the show not to mention the entry fees so let's just forget it.

Then the farmer looked out into the pasture where Crumpet was browsing away pretending to be a horse and even though Crumpet was extremely tiny she had grown two inches in the last two months and she was almost the size of a regular six-month old Nigerian, which would be good if she weren't a yearling, and the farmer looked at Crumpet and in spite of her extreme tininess Crumpet was perfect in every way and Crumpet knew it very well.

"I could just take Crumpet," the farmer muttered, perhaps having suffered a mild stroke or some other brain malady of unknown origin. "I could just put Crumpet in a crate and just take Crumpet."

"But Crumpet is too small to show," said the vestigial smidgen of the farmer's brain that was still functioning correctly. "And what about those gates? When are they going to be hung?"

The farmer from Minter Bay had also apparently suffered a mild stroke and agreed - reluctantly - to go as well. Into the truck and off they went at zero dark thirty, so early that most of the scintillating conversation en route was about the pleasantness of the traffic. "Look, there is hardly any traffic," one of the farmers would say.

"Isn't this nice," the other would say.

"What about that parade in Seattle?" one would say.

"I hope we don't get caught in that traffic," the other would say.

"Look," the first would exclaim, "there is hardly any traffic."

The people in Seattle may ride their bicycles naked but they are not so crazy that they get up at 4:30 and drive two hours to a goat show.

At the fairgrounds all the Nigerians were screaming in protest. But not Crumpet. She sat in her crate chewing her cud shrewdly and surveying the motley crew of reluctant pageant participants and you could see her thinking aloud, "these fat girls are no match for me."

The day dragged on interminably with the usual goat show delays. As usual the Minter Bay goats did very well, both of them making it to the championship lineup. By the time Crumpet went into the ring it was mid-afternoon. There were a bunch of other dry yearlings, probably twelve or thirteen, and several - if not most - of them were quite fat. Some were beautiful and fat, some were just fat. One was already at the height limit. She was a good six inches taller than Crumpet.

This is not one of those stories where Crumpet triumphs over the fat yearlings. The first judge started arranging the lineup. He glanced briefly at Crumpet and put her near the end of the line. Another judge did not even look at her, not a single glance, before putting her right at the end of the line. The third judge took his time and patiently looked each goat over thoroughly. He put Crumpet at the end of the line.

But as he went down the line giving his reasons, he stopped when he got to the end.

"This little doe at the end of the line is extremely correct," he said. "in fact there is nothing wrong with her. She is perfect. She is just too small to be competitive."

"That's right," thought Crumpet, surveying the fat losers ahead of her in line with pity and compassion as one should when regarding those less fortunate. "Perfect in every way."

This gentleman has a firm grasp of the obvious, thought the farmer. Unlike me.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Best Bad Dog in the World

There is a big silence all around the farm.

It is hard to believe, like so many terrible true things. But Wendell, aka Mr. Jingles, died on Thursday. In spite of being a monumental pest he was one of the farmer's very best friends, always in staunch agreement with the farmer's opinions and dying to hear more of them. Had there ever been such fascinating opinions, so eloquently expressed, so novel, so enlightening, so right in so many ways? Had there ever been such a magnificent farmer, driver of such a magnificent farm truck, the magic carpet ride to hayfields and feed stores and drive-through windows where the little dog sandwiches come out in crinkly paper for the shotgun rider? That Crinkly Paper! Had there ever been a better life than he had, king of his domain, fearless cow herder, matchless baby goat nanny, incorrigible thief, the best bad dog in the world?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Betty Way

Betty is the Nigerian herdqueen now. She does things The Betty Way.

The Betty Way is right on time, no funny business, no whining or complaining.

Betty got ready to kid on Sunday. She waited down in the pasture until it was time, then she signaled to the farmer. The farmer came down and opened the gate and she marched up to the barn.

She went into the kidding stall. She looked at it skeptically. It was ok, but it could have been better. The hay feeder was only half full of alfalfa, and the straw was clean and fresh but only a couple of inches deep. What could she do, she had to work with what she had.

She rearranged the straw, making a little mattress off to one side. She did a couple of circles, mapping out her kidding route. Ok.

The farmer went on feeding and Lori sat in the stall reading a book. Betty did a few trips around the stall, then laid down to push. Out popped the first triplet, without a peep from Betty.

"The first one is out," said Lori.

What is she doing here, thought Betty.

Betty examined the first kid closely. Fine, perfect in every way. Out popped the second triplet, unfortunately Betty had to give one short sharp bark to help push this one out. You could see that Betty didn't like doing that, but what can you do, sometimes it happens. Betty examined the second one while the first one drank some milk. Fine, perfect in every way. Out popped the third triplet. Exquisite.

Betty called for some dinner and a quart of mixed berry Emergen-C in a bucket. The whole family went to sleep, serene and adorable, never a peep from any of them.

The next day Tangy set in to kidding. The farmer dropped everything. First Tangy tried to kid standing up - this is a family trait. Then she tried to kid with her knees down on the ground and her butt up in the air. Alexander Newton I'm sure must have been spinning in his grave, but try explaining gravity to Tangy when she doesn't even know how to open the latch on a stall door. Dios mio. The bellowing I'm sure you could have heard in Gig Harbor, which is 15 miles away.

After a long time she managed to get a nice straightforward set of nose and toes lined up but the kid would not come out for all the world. This went on for half an hour and the farmer even gave her some calcium and some medicine to help dilate. Finally out popped a perfectly normal kid, streamlined like a mahogany cigarette boat from the '50s, what was the problem, the farmer asked? Why couldn't she just push him out? Why all the drama?

Tangy gave a little burp and yawned and popped out another kid. Well, the second one always comes out nicely. Ok, good job, said the farmer and went to do some chores. Three hours later, from down in the front pasture, the farmer heard the unmistakable bellowing of Tangy laboring mightily and the farmer trotted wheezing up to the barn to find a sopping wet third kid splayed out in the straw, who even knew how long Tangy had been working at that one.

"Well," said the farmer. Because what else can you say. "next time try doing it The Betty Way."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

They Might be Tiny Giants

Clara Belle the farmer's pet yearling kept getting bigger and  bigger. She was supposed to kid but she held off. The barometer dropped and there was a downpour but she held off, getting bigger and bigger. Crumpet meanwhile spent every day spying through her peephole and when the new babies would be let out to play she would squirt through the fence and gallop to the barn and t-bone each and every one of them in rapid succession, Muhammad Ali style, float like a butterfly sting like a bee.

The farmer was losing patience.

Crumpet did her t-boning practice for 3 days with complete success, dominating all the week-old babies. Once she had fully dominated she would give three little sideways hops signifying her badness. That's right -- hop, hop, hop -- I'm bad. The farmer caught her and stuffed her back through the fence a few times when she got too full of herself but in general she ran rampant.

On the fourth day she decided to go Big. She surveyed the pasture and picked out Moony, who may be big - she is the biggest yearling here, and possibly in the world, since she still drinks a gallon of Pinky milk every day - but she is also slow, uncoordinated, and not an intellectual giant.

Crumpet did her first big league t-boning when Pinky and Moony both got their heads stuck in the fence. They had put their heads through the same hole at the same time and couldn't get out. They didn't notice it at first, they thought they were just waiting for everyone to get off the bus and then they could go where they wanted to go, but when everyone else left and they still couldn't move and the farmer said, "well, you figured out a way to get your heads in there, I think you can figure out a way to get out," they started moaning softly, like they were in a sad church or something.

It was very spiritual.

Crumpet got a gleam in her eye and she started t-boning Moony to such an extent that even though it was a fly attacking an elephant, the farmer had to come down and get Moony and Pinky out of the fence and the farmer attempted at that time to catch Crumpet because Crumpet had been promised a long-overdue thrashing but Crumpet dodged away.

Tiny Tyrant 1, Moony 0.

"All right," said the farmer to Clara Belle, "you go ahead and have your kids whenever you want just do not have them in the middle of the night. It is not allowed."

Later that day, at midnight actually, Clara Belle laid down and started screaming.

The farmer came trotting with the kidding towels.

"Ok," said the farmer, rubbing the first one, a big starry-eyed buckling.

"Why it's called Midnight," the farmer explained to Clara Belle as she pushed out another buckling, also big and starry-eyed, "is that it comes in the middle of the night."

Clara gulped down a quart of grape-flavored Emergen-C in a bucket.

"And that isn't allowed, as I explained earlier."

The bucklings looked exactly like their father, Lucky the Drive-Through Buck, right down to the last detail, swanky and blue-eyed with lush black-and-white coats, like they were on their way to hear Frank Sinatra crooning somewhere. They were tiny, but they were giants.

Crumpet surveyed them with satisfaction through her spyhole. Two more worthy opponents.

They might be giants, thought Crumpet, but they are no match for me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Book of Names

We have a goat named Pinky. And we have a goat named Pinky Jr. And just to show the breadth of imagination at work here, we also have a goat named Binky. None of these names are their real names. They all have real names on their papers but nobody knows what they are any more. Once the farmer was at a show and the announcer came on the loudspeaker in the barn and announced the reserve champion, Moonshine Yarrow, and the farmer wondered who that was, because the farmer thought that one of our goats had been the reserve champion and we even had the ribbon to prove it, but oh dear maybe someone was on the way to confiscate the rosette. And then someone passing by said congratulations and the farmer realized that Moonshine Yarrow was actually Tangy.

"Oh, that's right."

But anyway we have a Pinky and a Pinky Jr. and a Binky. Blue Jaye's two little daughters are getting bird names since she has a bird name and one is called Diamond Dove and the other is called Dollarbird. Dollarbird is a wisecracker, it's plain to see already, she is always chewing on a little piece of straw in the corner of her mouth and everyone calls her Dinky Dollarbird, which sounds like an outlaw name, which she definitely is, and she is also very small, she is this year's Crumpet, which last year's Crumpet doesn't like at all. Dinky Dollarbird could easily be a cartoon character, she has blue eyes and wattles growing right under her ears.

But of course after you say Dinky Dollarbird five times you start to feel a little less syllabic and pretty soon it's just Dinky, which someone suggested as a name in the D contest.

Clover's little daughters are Derringer (she is a pistol) and the other one might be Polka Dot, she is all black with a white dot on her head and another on the tip of her tail. She is extremely sweet, not a pistol at all.

Sandy's little son is just called Sandy's little son, he has four caramel-colored boots and big Hello-Kitty Oregonian eyes. Jessie's little son would also be called Sandy's little son, but that name is taken. So he is called Jessie's little son, even though he is exceedingly fat.

Maybe later on one of them could get an official name, something like Finky. Or Ginky. Or possibly Rinky or Kinky. Minky would also work. Or Tinky. We might save Sinky for later, and Winky is too good to use right away. Pinky the Third has not been used as far as I know.

The ideas just keep coming. It's amazing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not Today

Brandy has gotten really old and now that she is a teenager she has a habit of nodding off in the pasture and when she does she usually does a face plant into the grass so that when you look at her you think, swing low sweet chariot. Here comes the band of LaMancha angels you think, and if you had a hat on you would take it off and hold it over your heart.

But anyway she is 13 and she is just sleeping, and she is also deaf as a post so when the farmer yells, "BRANDY!" she continues sleeping until the farmer trots up and grabs her shoulder and then she startles awake and plucks her head up, and her face is usually plastered with blades of grass, and it takes a few seconds for her eyes to swim back into focus, really it makes you wonder what she has been dreaming, and then she shakes her head in annoyance and the day goes on.

Then there is Spenny and she is 16 and she is the same, she sleeps 23 hours a day and if anything she is deafer than Brandy. Out of the blue we hear the farmer roaring: "SPENNY!" And then the day goes on. Then we see the rudely awoken Spenny on her constitutional, circling the house arthritically, five times like clockwork, after all she may be old but she is still a border collie, before going on to another power nap.

Tommy aka Tomba aka Tomba-la-Bamba the horse is 26 but he doesn't go in for all-day sleeping, it isn't his cup of tea, and he isn't deaf either. He is just thin when he used to always be fat but otherwise you wouldn't know he is a dinosaur.

Anyway a day doesn't go by that we don't hear "BRANDY!"


And then we hear a little snort. And then we hear the farmer again, in a normal voice: "Not today."

Some other day, maybe. But not today.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


~~~ Lifeboats Part 2 ~~~

The next morning the farmer comes out and starts feeding. The farmer notices that Binky is opening her mouth and doing the donkey bray of alarm. Only no sound is coming out. She is too hoarse.

"That's odd," says the farmer.

"Peep," screams Binky, sounding like a distant mouse.

Binky has a bag of milk the size of Rhode Island.

"That's odd," says the farmer.

"Peep," Binky mute-bellows.

Finally a glimmer goes on in the farmer's eyes. The farmer trots over and looks under the porch and can't see anything. The farmer gets the tractor and turns the tractor lights on and aims them under the porch. The farmer can't see anything. The farmer gets down and wiggles a few feet under the porch and re-adjusts the tractor lights and off in a distant dark completely inaccessible under-porch area sees a faint glimmer of one of Binky's babies - the pale sundgau stripe on one of his black cheeks.

Binky is on the loose now and running all around the porch silent-screaming. Occasionally she gets a faint heroic peep out.

The farmer calls the babies. Nothing. The farmer puzzles. The farmer gets on top of the porch and looks down through the floorboards and is able to locate the baby spot, just beside the workbench where the farmer has been cutting boards for the new fence gates. The farmer gets the air compressor and points the nozzle through the crack in the floorboards, about a quarter inch wide. The farmer turns the compressor on, blowing air on the babies. The purpose of this idea remains mysterious; in any case the babies don't move.

"Hmm," says the farmer.

The farmer tries a couple of other bad ideas. Then the farmer gets a good idea. The farmer picks up the phone and calls the neighbor, a mechanical genius.

Within a few minutes the neighbor has arrived and fashioned a ten foot long baby goat fishing pole out of pvc pipe, some bolts, and a foot long metal hook designed for holding hoses. The neighbor crawls a few feet under the porch, deploys the fishing pole skillfully, hooks the sundgau baby, and pulls him out, inch by inch.

The baby emerges, blinking, covered with dirt, spider webs, and sawdust blown down on him through the porch floorboards by the air compressor.

"I wonder how he got all that sawdust on him," says the neighbor.

"That's strange, isn't it,"  says the farmer.

While the first baby is drinking a gallon of milk the second baby comes out on her own.

For no reason at all Binky gazes at the farmer with admiration as the two babies empty her bag of milk in record time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Last Call for the Lifeboats

Ok Crumpet lives by herself in the horse pasture now. She has a secret squeeze hole no one else can get through and she squeezed through and now she lives under one of the cable spools, like a little troll.
She decided to move there because that pasture is centrally located with access to the barn, the horse feeders, the fat girl pasture, and the coddled pregnant Nigerian ladies' pasture. These are all places where two meals a day are served and Crumpet eats some of every meal and if you are keeping track that is eight meals a day plus tips.

The tips are the farmer actually lets Crumpet inside the feed chute to clean up any spilled grain after the fat girl feeding. So really that is nine meals a day. I know what you are thinking: has she gotten any bigger. Well maybe half an inch.

Anyway Wronny had her triplets and Binky had her twins and Jessie had a little single and then Sandy had a single and then Bing had twins and so did Blue Jaye and the farmer went to let some of the babies out for the first time because the babies like to go outside and eat some dirt as soon as possible, I don't know why, it probably puts some good local germs in their stomachs and it was decided that the big babies would go out.

So out went Wronny and Binky and Jessie and their kids. Now since time began the kids go out and if it is a warm day eventually they go under the porch of the cottage to take a nap where it is cool and safe. And that's what happened.

All the babies eventually toddled off under the porch and went to sleep. An hour clicked by and they started coming back out for a milk refill. Fredwina and Doxie and Ramona bunny-hopped out. Jessie's little son came out about twenty minutes later.

Another hour went by and Binky started giving her donkey bray of alarm. This is similar to her donkey bray of comprehension only much louder and filled with gloom and horror.

The farmer did not notice. The farmer was preoccupied because Crumpet had been running in and out everywhere, step-dancing on the hayloft stairs and t-boning Wronny's triplets because they are the only goats she has ever seen that are smaller than she is.  Of course these were all hit-and-run jobs because Crumpet knows what would happen if Wronny caught her t-boning a triplet.

Binky continued her donkey bray of alarm.

"We are going to have to get a tape of that," the farmer murmured absently. "Surely there is a contest somewhere for the best end-of-the-world donkey bray of alarm."

The farmer did some chores and pottered about mislaying things and forgetting to fill the water and getting the feed buckets ready.

Binky took her donkey bray of alarm up a notch. It sounded like the last call for the lifeboats on the Titanic.

"That is really something," said the farmer. By this time everyone had had dinner and was put to bed, with Crumpet back under her spool and darkness falling. Wronny was tucked in with her triplets, and Jessie's little son was asleep under the hay feeder. Binky stood at the gate braying desperately.

"You are really upset about something aren't you Binky," said the farmer, patting Binky.

Binky bellowed.

"I know there is a lot going on for you," said the farmer, using techniques learned at middle management school.

Binky did not go to middle management school and she was not placated. She bellowed hoarsely.

"Well, good night everybody," said the farmer, and turned off the lights.

~~~to be continued ~~~~~

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Binky Loves the Sky

Binky had a stomach ache and she went to lie down and she accidentally had two kids, a buck and a doe, they shot out like champagne corks. Pop-pop, presto. Those are their names. Poor Binky, she did not know she was bred.

"Whaaat?" she said.

"That's why you are in the barn, Binky, instead of in the fat girl pasture where you usually are," I told her.

"Whaaat?" said Binky. Poor Binky, she does not know what 'barn' means.

"It is the big white building all around you," I explained. "You are in the middle of it, in a stall."

This what I told her might as well have been The Dead Sea Scrolls read aloud in the original Hebrew.

"Whaat?" said Binky. Poor Binky. How can she understand 'building' when she doesn't understand 'barn.' How?

While she was distracted Pop-pop and Presto advanced on her and began drinking milk and she gave a loud donkey bray which is Binky's signal of comprehension.

"I have two kids!" she yelled at me. She was delighted. "Do you know where they came from?"

I did not have time to try to explain, so Eo took over.

"From the sky," snapped Eo, drily.

"I love the sky!" Binky brayed.

Later that day Bing had two kids and after they were up and running they went to share Binky's stall.

We all heard Binky braying with delight again a few minutes later. "I have two more kids!"

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Fredwina's Guide to Getting Born, or, Meet the Mashed-Up Hand

Ok if you are planning to get born you may not know how to do it so this is a guide on getting born or anyway this is how I did it yesterday. Ok first of all wait for an inconvenient time when there is an important appointment or something like that. Ok then stick your head out, just your head. It will be light out, lighter than inside anyway.

What you will see is a red-faced farmer and what you will hear is a farmer cussing.

"Damn it," the farmer will say. "A head and no feet! Damn it!"

Then the best thing is close your eyes but if you don't you will see a big mashed-up hand coming toward you and it will push against your nose and your whole face and the lights will go out and you will find yourself sliding back inside in the dark but if you listen closely you will still be able to hear the cussing.

"&#&%$%#!!!!" (muffled)

Then you will feel the mashed-up hand groping around and grabbing one of your legs and the mashed-up hand will bend your joints just to be sure they all bend in the same direction like a front leg should and then the hand will pull your leg up over your head which isn't very comfortable. Then the hand will grope around for another leg and then the next thing you know the mashed-up hand starts pulling you out by the legs and unceremoniously sticking its fingers in your nostrils to use them as a handle for pulling your head around. And cussing of course, but absent-mindedly by now.

All at once you will start to hear a lot of heartfelt bellowing and this is your mother congratulating you on the size of your head as it passes through her birth canal and the next thing you know you are out and about and everyone is waiting on you hand and foot and the limelight is blinding and the milk is delicious but hold the phone, all of a sudden you are yesterday's news, because "here comes the next one," says the farmer, "get some more towels."

So that's how you do it. My name is Fredwina. Do I look like I was born yesterday? That's because I was.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Iron Baby

Crumpet has refused to grow and when the farmer went to measure her against the scratch on the tack room door from February there was no point in making a new scratch because it would have been in the same place as the February scratch. But nonetheless her personality is getting bigger and bigger and pretty soon there will not be enough room in her body for it.

For some reason when a tiny goat has the personality of a tyrant which Crumpet does everyone seems to think it is adorable.

"Oh look at the little one! It is t-boning that big one's knee! Ha ha ha!"

Yes, very funny, I guess these people have never heard of a torn ACL. She is also a fast runner and has developed a system of escape holes that no one else can fit through. You would have better luck finding Nemo than catching Crumpet. So she does a lot of hit and runs. She is also so low to the ground that any attempted return t-bonings can result in a head injury to those seeking justice. Pinky demonstrated this the other day. Or maybe that is not a head injury.

Anyway there is only truly one way to describe Crumpet. She is a handbagger. If anyone was wondering where the spirit of Margaret Thatcher the Milk Snatcher went, it is right here, alive and well, and wreaking havoc.

Margaret Thatcher, who always had a large handbag at her side, was actually the source of the term “handbagging,” which now appears in the Oxford English dictionary. A member of British Parliament once said that Thatcher couldn’t “look at a British institution without hitting it with her handbag,” and the expression stuck. Today, it is defined as the “verbal and psychological beating of one’s opponents,” and it is formally recognized as having been named after Margaret Thatcher.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Double Toothpicks

We have a lot of ratchet straps here. If you have the right number and the right kind of ratchet straps you can tie anything down. Really anything. A barn or a tugboat or anything. There is a certain kind of person who really likes to tie things down. This includes a lot of farmers.

This type of person will have a process for tying things down and probably a set of homemade load binders and if you stand too close to this type of person during certain times of the year - hay season, usually - the person may just spontaneously start describing how they tie things down. You will have to move a safe distance away to avoid this. Pretend you have seen a flock of hummingbirds in the distance and just move discreetly out of range, with your eyes fixed on the horizon.

During the hay season our farmer always surveys the other trucks in the field to make sure that none of them are getting more bales on their truck than we are. If one of them is, the farmer will mutter, "well, that is a flatbed," or, "they won't get home with that load."  By way of introduction the farmer may walk up to newcomers in the hay field and ask innocently, "how many bales can you get on your truck?"

Once the answer came back, "65," and the whole day was ruined because it is a known fact that Brownie's world record is 63 bales of hay. That is if we have good hay monkeys - teenage boys, usually - and the right kind of ratchet straps. If the farmer is loading alone that number drops in half.

On the other hand once there was a man with a shiny new truck that looked like it cost about $50,000 and he told the farmer proudly that he was able to get 16 bales of hay on his truck and the farmer spent the rest of the day chuckling fondly.

Wendell chuckled too, he is a yes man, every time the farmer said, "Sixteen bales!"

Anyway I am only thinking about tying down because yesterday there was an unexpected bonanza. When the farmer went to the feed mill a shipment of peas had come in out of season.

We did not know there were going to be peas. When the peas came out to the feeders, all hell broke loose. Usually we are supposed to keep the Hell tied down, double toothpicks and all, with the twin ratchet straps of a tough herdqueen and a predictable routine. Or at least part of the way tied down. But there is no herdqueen who can hold the herd when unexpected peas arrive.

And the ratchet strap has not been made.

So it broke loose. Way loose. Completely loose. All of it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

May I Have This Askance?

Well a couple of weeks ago we had a nice weekend and the temperature got up in the 60s. And then after that everything went sideways, with hail and sleet and wind and nighttimes almost freezing. But Moldy for some reason as soon as we had one nice day she thought she was back in Lagos or something because she shed her whole coat out way too far to the point of being practically bald. Anyway I thought that was her own fault and it might be a good opportunity for her to learn a lesson but the farmer started looking around for a jacket for Moldy. But Moldy has not missed many meals and her circumference is too big for a regular Nigerian jacket and too small for a big goat jacket.

So this gave a good opportunity for a Vocabulary Day. It is always good to learn new words, especially if you are part Nubian where learning a new word can practically double your vocabulary. Don't worry, you Nubians out there, I am not going to ask you to do any math problems, but if someone in the future asks you what double means it means twice as much (2 banana peels instead of one).

Anyway: Askance.

adv. With an attitude or look of suspicion or disapproval. Suspiciouslydoubtfullydubiouslyskepticallydisapprovinglydistrustfullymistrustfully

used in a sentence: "When Moldy appeared out of nowhere tippy-toeing along on her little dachshund legs in a royal blue jacket two sizes too small, Willen looked at her askance."

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Tadpole Jubilee

Okay there was a switch. The whole Jammies family except Jinxy and the whole Moldy family came down here in our pasture. My mother came back down here too. The Blue family came also and the Betty family.

Wronny Soprano stayed where she was so was so Abby and I were able to have the full-blown smackdown we have been planning for years. We started the smackdown one on one and it went really well and then my daughter Izzy joined me and the tide turned immediately but then Moldy came in on the Abby side and the tide turned back and my mother Belle Pepper came in and then Pebbles put a head in on the Moldy side and all in all it was a top-rated smackdown, certainly the best smackdown in years, but just when it was reaching its peak Maddy the Sheriff of Crazytown raced past with Eo hot on her heels in a state of apoplectic rage.

Now Eo never makes a sound and rules through mind control and spraying the fear on everyone and how you can tell she is in a state of apoplectic rage, as opposed to her usual state of seething rage or her slightly elevated state of simmering rage is that her ears will go back like a horse when it is about to kick someone. Anyway Maddy breezed past us, as they say at the racetrack, and Eo was hot on her heels, with her ears back and Game of Thrones written all over her face in bold gothic type.

A word about Maddy, just one word: crazy. Here is how Maddy operates: when she is up with the bigs she cowers and scrapes and can hardly get a bite to eat. The farmer is constantly having to take her out and give her special food and feed her on her own so that she doesn't get thin as a rail and she is also super picky and often will stand on the milkstand with her special meals picking out the corn from the feeder and then tossing the oats and barley on the floor and when the farmer sees this the farmer's ears will go slightly back like a horse about to kick someone and little puffs of smoke will come out the farmer's ears and then we usually will get to hear one of our favorite speeches, either the "Is This the Thanks I Get?" speech or the "Do You Know How Much Grain Costs These Days?" speech.

But then if Maddy goes in with little goats or even babies she turns immediately from abject coward to world's biggest bully and delights in nothing more than t-boning unsuspecting Nigerians which there aren't very many unsuspecting Nigerians but now and then she finds one. So anyway the farmer thought it would be a good time to put Maddy in with the smalls since there was a big change happening anyway and probably  nobody would notice her etc which we probably never would have what with our excellent smackdown but of course the farmer neglected to consider our fearless leader Eo whose radar goes all the way to the ground and possibly even deeper than that so there is absolutely no way to get under it.

Maddy did not get two steps into our pasture before Eo was on her tail. Elbie and Too, the mini-manchas, joined the parade. We dropped our smackdown and joined.  Even Moldy ran a few steps on her dachshund legs before yelling, "That's Right! You Heard Me!" and lying down to catch her breath. The parade raged over hill and dale, with the mini-manchas' tongues hanging out, and Maddy loping tirelessly - she has a lot of practice running - and after a while we decided to drop out for the hilly parts and catch up on the flat runs, but Eo ran with gimlet eyes, her fury never never dimming, always two steps behind Maddy. NOT IN MY PASTURE.

It was definitely a case of tadpoles' revenge. If you get enough tadpoles you can rout a whale, especially if the tadpoles have a leader like Eo. After about twenty highly aerobic minutes the farmer gave up and opened the gate to let Maddy out, and then closed the gate on Eo, two steps behind.

Maddy turned around when she was sure the gate was tightly closed, and she was probably thinking of saying something, but when she saw the look in Eo's eyes she could not think of any remarks that would really suit the occasion. So she scampered off and the rest of the day was a tadpole jubilee.

Monday, March 25, 2013

By the Gate

Some people get tired of their mother when they get to be big. They forget about all the milk their mother gave them. This would be understandable if their mother was Winjay who did nothing but bite their ears. Other than that it is mysterious. Anyway I am just mentioning this because it just occurred to me.

I guess it occurred to me because my mother Belle Pepper got a little too thin and she went up to the big barn to go on fattening. I did not get too thin unfortunately so I am still down in the fat girl pasture. By this time of year at the end of the winter nobody in the fat girl pasture is really fat any more but it is still called the fat girl pasture which is mysterious.

Anyway I am standing by the gate. My daughter Izzy is standing by me. She stands where I stand. We are waiting. We were crying for a while, about two days, but now we are just standing. Izzy was only crying because I was crying. She cries when I cry.

Anyway everyone else is down in the cabana which is still slated to be demolished but only if it doesn't fall down first and it is going to be a close race because now every little windstorm we have a few more pieces fall off the cabana and by this time it makes the average desperate hovel look like something from the pages of Martha Stewart Living but that is ok, I like to live someplace with an airy feel and it definitely has an airy feel what with the wind blowing in from all directions but that is not really what I am talking about today.

Some of these fancy expensive barns do not have an airy feel is all I am saying. Maybe you should ask yourself does my barn have an airy feel or are all my goats standing outside it lined up head to tail under the overhang to get out of the rain because they do not want to go inside. That is one thing you could put on your list of questions to ask yourself when you have time. Also you should ask yourself why am I buying this cheap hay when the expensive hay tastes so much better?

Anyway I am waiting by the gate because in a few minutes the farmer is going to start feeding us. The gate is as close as I can get to the big barn. Then everyone else will rush up from the cabana and the inside goats will rush out and we will all feed along the fenceline with Eo the boss of the fat girl pasture hogging as much food as possible and on the other side Moldy and Abby will be seething along one side of the line with Betty and Jammies seething along the other side. The minions and underlings will sort themselves out.

Usually I like to eat as much as possible and I am good at getting my share, I am not a wallflower like Blue or Joy, I know how to elbow my way to the front, but I will worry about that later today because right now I am standing by the gate and I won't do anything until I see my mother Belle Pepper come out. Then I will feel a lot better and I will go and hog some food.

I know she is going to come out. But anyway I am just going to stand by the gate until she does.