Wednesday, February 12, 2014

All You Have to Do

The farmer has a saying. The saying is, "all you have to do is live long enough."

That is what the farmer said years ago when the bears climbed the fence into the yard.

This is what the farmer said when Wendell, through the sheer force of his personality, frighted the long-legged coyote half to death and sent it pronging in abject terror off into the high grass.

This is what the farmer said when Spenny the border collie got left home alone too long even for her cast-iron constitution and she discreetly slid the shower door open with her nose and went to the bathroom in there, as a courtesy, because that's the kind of dog she is, she lives in horror of causing anyone any trouble, exactly the opposite of a boston terror.

Anyway you can use this expression whenever you see something you never thought you'd see. And in case you are wondering where we are going, the track is long and winding but we don't go off it, so that brings us back to the beginning: people are always asking the farmer how long is the longest a pregnant doe will go before kidding.

Well, the farmer says, it would be pretty unusual to go over 150 days. In fact, it would be pretty unusual to even get to 150. When they go 150, they are almost always first fresheners, that or they are going to have a gigantic single - usually a buck - or both. This puts everyone in a bad mood - first freshener with a gigantic single buck kid, head like a basketball, get your earplugs because we are in for some screaming.

Back when we had Nubians, they would sometimes go 150, or sometimes even a day or two over. In looking through the history books the longest we ever had was a Nubian who went 152, and even that might have been an accounting error. But our LaManchas in general do not go 150, they like Day 147, and Nigerians are about the same, and so whenever someone asks how often a Nigerian will go over 150, the farmer always says, just to save time, "Never."

Anyway Isabel, there are two now, this one is the new Moldy but it's a long story, was pencilled in to kid on Day 148, which would have been February 5th. February 5th came and went, and so did the 6th, and the 7th, and the farmer sighed. "I guess she will have a gigantic single buck kid tomorrow."

The 8th came and went. And the 9th. And then the 10th. The farmer puzzled over the charts: Isabel wasn't bred here, so it wasn't possible that the dates were wrong. And she was kept in isolation when she got here, so it wasn't possible she was bred right after getting here by some mysterious paramour, which has certainly happened before.

But in any case you can't stay on high alert forever, and after the 11th came and went with no sign of kidding, the farmer embraced the abyss and went to bed early, explaining to Sammy that "something else has happened. Something we don't know about."

Sure enough at 1:32 a.m. this morning, well into the forbidden kidding hours, a few muffled not particularly urgent screams, just loud enough to wake the farmer, emanated from the barn.

When the farmer went out, there were two adorable kids, an orange one and one that looks like the world's tiniest, most perfect Togg. Both had slid out with no problem. They were not at all gigantic.

"Well," the farmer said to the Terror, rubbing them dry, "all you have to do is live long enough."

And so now if anyone asks how long a Nigerian doe will go before kidding, the answer is going to be: "155 days. And not a minute more."