Friday, November 06, 2015

The Limelight

Crumpet. She only has one name. She only needs one name.

Crumpet has been out of the limelight for a long time. At least a year. It was a complicated time, happy but sad, a time of loss and new beginnings. For the farmer, not for Crumpet.

For Crumpet it was a time of extreme Crumpetude. After officially being declared an undersized hood ornament, a long-bodied wiener dwarf, too tiny to breed, too microscopic to milk, too small to show, something happened. Nobody knows what. Maybe it was something in the water.

Anyway Crumpet, TMFGITW, sister of Crayola and Pebbles, daughter of Jackie and Abby, failed piano prodigy, goat show flop, inexplicably brimming with self-esteem - that Crumpet - continued to grow. Everyone else stopped growing once they got to be her age. She did not. She kept growing, stealthily, in tiny increments.

And in less than one year, while no one was watching, she grew three inches so that she was over nineteen inches tall. On certain mornings after stretching when she woke up, she was almost twenty inches tall.

She went around saying it, in lieu of more customary salutations:

“Isn’t the weather nice? I am twenty inches tall.”

“Please step away from the grain pan, Moldy junior. I am twenty inches tall.”

Twenty inches, Crumpet’s almost height, is a normal height for a Nigerian. It isn’t exactly towering, but it is normal. It certainly wouldn’t be considered Lilliputian, except maybe in the Belle family. But then on the other hand, Betty, the smallest Belle, is only about 21 inches tall.

In addition to growing three inches, Crumpet arranged to be bred, with no help or assistance from anyone else, and she became a milker, and she took to the milkstand like a duck to water.  At the peak of her milking she was milking three pounds a day. Wherever she went (in her mind’s eye) the invisible crowds erupted in cheers.

That is almost all we can tell you about Crumpet’s year out of the limelight, because she has requested that a veil of privacy be drawn across these twelve long bittersweet triumphant  months.

So all we can say is yes, it is true, she proved everyone (the farmer) wrong. She showed that where there is a Crumpet, there is a way. She built a ladder to the stars, and she hung the moon.

Because sometimes you are in the limelight, and sometimes the limelight is in you.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

A good spot for remembering.

Barnyard CSI, Episode 032215: Professor Poppy's Proof, or, Solving for X

Sometimes it is not possible to ask questions and so you must intuit or deduce using your faculties if you have any. Intuit is where you look at the half-finished puzzle and say to yourself, aha, the missing piece is in the shape of an ear of corn, so I intuit that it is an ear of corn. It is a kind of intellectual gymnastics where you add things up and arrive at an answer, solving for X, where X is the thing that is conspicuously absent.

Obviously if you are a Nubian you cannot do this.

But anyway we have been trying to solve for X in the matter of the tiny replicant now known as Eo 2.0.

There was a conspicious lack of volunteers when Poppy suggested that someone should ask Eo who was the father of Eo 2.0. Very conspicuous.

And so this led to a lot of wide-ranging deduction and intuiting, not necessarily in that order.

"It looks exactly like Eo," said Dinky, under her breath.

"Exactly," agreed Ivy the Crafty Dunderhead.

"It looks nothing like Chaos."


"Nor Lionel."

"Nor Jackie."

"certainly not Fred."

"Not Fred. Or Thomas."

"Look! A cloud!" (disregard - Part-Nubian comment).

This discussion went round and round until finally Poppy said, "I wonder if it is possible for someone to be the father AND the mother of a kid."

This had a goggling effect on the conversation as everyone considered the ramifications.

"Because we know who the mother is." Poppy went on. "And if it were possible, then this case would prove it."

"What you are saying," blurted my daughter Izzy, in a Barnyard CSI tone of voice, " is can X EQUAL X?"

There was a stunned silence as we realized that we had reached the border of a brave new world.

"Which of course it can," pronounced Poppy. "Because X IS X."

"And never the twain shall meet," one of the Butterball twins breathed, in a tone of awestruck admiration.

"X IS X," we all agreed. The proof is in the pudding. The answer is in the question.

If Dam = X and Sire = X, Kid = X

Eo is the  mother AND the father of Eo 2.0, because Eo is Eo. They said it couldn't be done, but they didn't know Eo.


Ivy the Crafty Dunderhead

Pebbles and her BFF Ivy got separated into different pastures and now Ivy has somehow assimilated herself in with the Butterball family and the Poppy clan. Not exactly IN, but they don't t-bone her any more unless she gives them some kind of reason for it. And once in a while she will even t-bone someone else.

So everyone kind of forgot that she is the new girl. It only took about a year and a half, probably because she is not from Oregon and speaks fairly intelligibly.

The thing about Ivy is that she has all kinds of plans and schemes, rows and rows of little saplings of ideas, but she cannot see the forest in front of her. Because she is a dunderhead. A crafty dunderhead.

How she got her name is every morning when the farmer comes to feed Ivy does the same thing. Ivy doesn't know it but she is on low-impact Friendlies which means that the farmer is going to pet her while she eats every morning and if she doesn't want to be petted she won't eat. So when the farmer puts the grain in the tray in the fenceline feeder and Ivy shoves her head through, the farmer pets her. This happens every morning. Ivy runs to her spot next to Crumpet and starts eating and the farmer starts petting her.

She squawks in alarm and pulls her head out and runs around to the other side of Crumpet, about eight inches away from where she started, and sticks her head in again. The farmer does not have to even move, the farmer just pets her with the other hand. She squawks and runs back to first position.

Second verse same as the first.

At first she kept doing this until all the food was gone, maybe 15 times per feeding. Now she has it down to three.

"That's very crafty what you're doing," Poppy said the first time she saw it.

 And that is how she got her name.

Mother of Dragons, or It Took So Long to Bake It

Eo is supposedly retired from everything except ruling the world with an iron hoof. She is twelve or thirteen or something like that, no one knows because she doesn't celebrate birthdays, but in any case she is a bona fide VCP. She is a miniature Toggenburg, which sounds very cute, but she isn't cute, and even though the Toggenburg is a Swiss goat there is nothing Swiss about her, no Heidi, no edelweiss, no Saint Penrose, no fancy chocolates wrapped in silver foil, no yodeladyhoo, no cuckoo clock, no colorful folk outfits or ten-foot-long bugle horns, she is more like a shrunken-down Polizei officer from East Germany before they tore down the wall, when you see her the first thing you do is to try to walk casually to the nearest exit, doing your best to look innocent, but once you start there is a terrible itch in your legs and pretty soon you break into a sweaty gallop and just as you get to the tall grass you yell "Fire!" or "Free Alfalfa!" to create a diversion.

When she swivels her head and looks at you with her Robocop eyes you will understand the meaning of fear. She is one of the farmer's favorites, of course.

Anyway a few weeks ago Eo announced to everyone in particular, "I am going in the shed and no one else better come in." So we all went and stood bunched up against the fence, which is as far away from the shed as you can get, and we turned our backs for good measure just to prevent any stray accidental eye contact in case Eo came to the door and looked out.

After a few minutes it started raining and Dinky Dollarbird aka Little Drudgery who is thin-skinned wondered if it might be okay to go and stand under the overhang of the shed, not anywhere near the door, but just under the overhang.

"Go ahead if you want, " said Poppy drily, "But I will wait here." Rain streamed down her face and dripped from her beard.

Just then we heard two loud screams from the shed.

"I guess I will wait here," said Dinky.

It stopped raining and began pouring instead but we stayed rooted to our spot and pretty soon Crumpet started in humming. Ivy the Crafty Dunderhead joined in, and then one of the Butterball twins, and then Winnie. It was a low and mournful someone-left-the-cake-out-in-the-rain humming.

Then came another barking businesslike scream from deep in the shed, and a couple of minutes after that Eo appeared in the doorway. She looked from side to side, just like a character in a movie checking to see if the coast is clear, and then she went back in. The rain stopped immediately.

A couple more minutes passed, and then Eo strolled out into the sunshine. Hot on her heels came a tiny, exact Eo replica, its hair neatly combed, but still steaming damply.

"I wonder who that is," mused Ivy.

The tiny Eo replica flicked its gimlet eyes at Ivy, and Ivy actually took two two steps backward, gasping.

"I wonder." said Poppy. Drily of course.

Eo and the tiny Replicant performing synchronized maneuvers.




Out of the Blue

Well for many years it has been promised that our ancestral home, the Cabana, located atop Goatberry Mountain, which we made ourselves through the fruits of our own rumens, the Mountain part anyway not the actual cabana, would be demolished and torn down and stricken from the face of the Earth and so on. "This place is an eyesore," the farmer would always say, "and it is going to be torn down."

"What place?" the Nubian crosses would say. "Not THIS place?" and then they would look around with all-encompassing looks of alarm, at the meadow with the frogs, the madrona forest on the other side, the hill leading up to the big barn, the buck shack, the willow trees along the creek.

"No," Wronny would explain for the umpteenth time. " Just THIS place."

"Oh." They would say. "Oh. Okay."

"Just this place," Big Orange would murmur.

"Okay then," Moony would repeat."Just this place."

Nubian crisis averted.

Anyway a few weeks ago after 12 years or so of unveiled threats a man named Charles arrived out of the blue and looked at the Cabana appraisingly with the farmer standing next to him, both of them staring with arms crossed and blank faces.

"So this is the place." he said.

"Yes." said the farmer.

He did not seem like the type for idle chitcat, certainly not of 12 years duration. He had with him a large black box on wheels.

"Ok." He said. "Let's get started."

He opened the box and took out a sledgehammer. And thus it began.

The Black Box

Inside the Black Box

The Eyesore Meets Its Match

So Much Things to Say

It was March 11th. Or possibly it was March 12th.

We knew it would happen. We all knew it. She knew it too, of course.

She wanted to go and lie against the fence at the bottom of the hill, looking out into the meadow. Whenever something important is going to happen, she likes to get away from the herd. She did the same thing last year when the Dark Secret came. I lay down next to her. We both went to sleep.

I did not know that I knew it, but when the morning came and she did not get up, I did not try to wake her up, the way I might have done when I was younger. Because I knew. I did not say, "not today," because I knew. I just waited beside her.

The sun came up slowly. It seemed to take forever. Maybe it did take forever, maybe that's what forever is. There was a blanket of fog across the meadow.

Finally I heard the farmer come outside.

I heard the chain clinking on the gate. I heard the grain buckets rattling. I heard everyone stampeding to the feed alley. I waited. I knew the farmer would come and find us in a few minutes. So I just waited with her. It was the only thing I could do.

My mother is gone. My mother passed over the border to infinity.

Herron Hill CJ Belle Pepper, 3/16/2007-3/12/2015.
when the rain falls, it don't fall on one man's house.

the Hill, the Fence, the Meadow, Infinity

the Hill, the Fence, the Meadow, Infinity

the Hill, the Fence, the Meadow, Infinity. And a Buttercup.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Kidder's Guide, Part Two

Okay now you have had your kids. They are 'on the ground' as the farmers like to say which I don't understand because where else would they be, they aren't pteradactyls. They are walking around yelling and searching for milk, unless they are bucklings. If they are bucklings, they may be laying limp and dazed in the straw, wondering why they got ejected from their comfy hot tub. If necessary you can go Jammies on them and give them a couple of kicks in the ribs. This will usually get them started. (That is where the 'kickstarter' web site gets its name, fyi.)

Anyway, your job is done.

Let's say you had a lot of kids and they were kind of tangled up and one of them has twisted legs or is walking on his knuckles or something like that. What should you do?

Nothing. He will be fine in a couple of days. Your job is done.

Now you must concentrate on eating. Eat as much as you can as rapidly as possible. Complain loudly if they try to foist grass hay on you. Demand 4th cutting alfalfa.

No need to fawn any longer.

Your job is done.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Kidder's Guide, Part One

It is getting to be that time of year. Here we are calling it June-uary and the frogs started singing two nights ago. Because of the time of year and also because of my extreme kindness and generosity I would like to offer a word from the wise (me) to the hapless and the uninitiated (you).

In case you might want to know we have a birthing procedure here which most of you would do well to follow if you are considering having kids of your own, even small ones can be rather a headache to push out. You start in squeezing and you think, oh this horror will be over in a minute. And then sometimes it goes on for an hour or more, which can be quite taxing especially if it is your first time and you think you have a kidney stone or got hold of some bad Swedish Fish which if you are wondering actually there aren't any bad Swedish Fish so cross that off your list.

But even though there are no bad Swedish Fish some are better than others (the red ones) and if you don't know what this is, it's food for thought, which brings me to my next point which is that if you are going to be doing any deep thinking it is (usually) best to eat while you are doing it. This is called ruminating. And not for nothing.

Ok where was I. Birthing. Of course first you must find a suitable health care provider, I recommend getting one with ten small fingers and at least two credit cards. You don't have to be nice all year long but when you are getting ready to kid it is best to admire the health care provider in a fawning manner and try to favoritize yourself to it. Moldy is a master of this. This is not a time for subtlety or nuance. If you are going to fawn, fawn fawningly and unmistakably, like an lolcat. Some phrases you could use: I R CRYING CUZ I RRUVV U, Y U SO PRIDDY MOMMY?,  WIDDLE GOATY WWUVV FARMER, and so on. I'm sorry but it has to be done.

OK next: it might sound crazy but don't eat too much. After you kid you will get a lot of lovely delicious alfalfa and other food so just wait for that. If you get too fat before you kid it will be like you are trying to kid out a butterball turkey that is wearing an eskimo parka and what you want is for your kids to squirt out like the Olympic luge at 85 miles an hour so you can get right to the post-partum buffet.

Part Two coming soon but in the meantime if you have a question you can ask me but keep it short I have a lot of ruminating to do today.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Over in The Smellies

Ok well Moldy had a little baby, we already went over that. Then Jammies had a baby. The farmer examined the calendar extensively and there was no hint of a buck escape. The farmer never breeds for January.

Moldy and Jammies must have snuck out together. Maybe under cover of night, some moonlit August night, some enchanted evening, they took an amorous stroll together over in The Smellies where the bucks live. Or maybe they did it in broad daylight and no one was interested enough to notice. Anyway now there are two winter babies when usually there are zero. There they both are, indisputable, two little January neverlings.

Both are singletons. They are up in the barn with their mothers. You cannot imagine how fat they are already. One (Effie) is called The Guzzler for her style of constantly drinking milk and for her rodeo skills, she has been observed still drinking while Moldy is at a full trot trying to unlatch her. Eight seconds is nothing for her, she can really sit the trot. The other (Navajo) is called The Puzzler, on account of his mysterious unknown heritage. We know who The Guzzler's father is, only because she has blue eyes.

Now Jammies and Moldy are best friends. So are Guzzle and Puzzle. It's a strange thing, it's almost like Moldy isn't from Oregon any more. Jammies flat out denies that Moldy is from Oregon. If anyone says Moldy is from Oregon, Jammies shouts, "Maybe YOU are from Oregon!"

But if Moldy isn't from Oregon, what does that say about Fred? Is he not from Oregon any more either? Or maybe Oregon doesn't exist any more, maybe that is what happened. If Oregon doesn't exist, does Portland still exist? What about Portlandia?  What about The Terror? She is from Eugene. She is only one year old. So we know Oregon existed a year ago. Don't we?

Is it just a math problem? Is it a simple boolean?

moldys_birthplace == 'Oregon'

True? Or False?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


We had a sort of a half-sunny day which is nice in January. The farmer was off looking for the orcas. The farmer has gotten obsessed with the orcas, the Sound is full of them this year, and the T137s from the T-Pod spend a lot of their time trolling through the farmer's crabbing spot down between Longbranch and Anderson Island. The Orcas are looking for seals, hard luck for the seals, because they are easy to find down there. The Ts have a baby with them and the farmer is obsessed with trying to catch a glimpse of the T-Baby. The Ts in the pod are named after their mother, T137, so there is T137a, T137b, T137c etc, and so on like that until T137 stops having babies.

So anyway since it was a half-sunny day and since there was no wind at all the farmer was going to take the little boat out, the little 14-foot boat, which would be a great spot from which to see a 20 foot whale, especially the gigantic male of the T137 pod who likes nothing better than swimming right under a tiny boat and flipping on his back to take a good look at the occupants,  yes I certainly would love to see that while sitting inside a 14 foot aluminum boat with a motor that doesn't always start. It has always been a dream of mine, what little goat wouldn't love to go to sea and take a selfie with a gigantic whale in the background, especially one like the T male with his majestic dorsal fin, probably at least five feet high, yes indeed. Not.

Anyway there was something wrong with the lights on the trailer and so the farmer went down to the boat launch with binoculars and no boat and spent an hour or so scanning Drayton Passage and of course didn't see anything, not even a seal. While the farmer was gone Moldy laid down and had a baby. No one was more surprised than Moldy, because she wasn't bred, and nobody else was either, not until the spring, and so everyone looked on with polite interest. Moldy had the baby with no difficulty but Winnie had to notify her that it was hers because she was so shocked when she turned around and saw it.

"Somebody had a baby!" Moldy bellowed informatively.

"Yes," said Winnie. "You."

"I think I would know if I had a baby!" Moldy bellowed.

"Yes," said Winnie. "So would I."

At this point the baby advanced and began drinking milk from Moldy and Moldy began bellowing, "I had a Baby! I had a Baby!"

This was on a continuous loop for one hour until the farmer came back and saw what had happened and Moldy was rushed up to the barn with her new baby, which ought to have been named "Ihadda" but instead is being called Baby F, or Effie, just temporarily (forever) until the farmer thinks of a better name, since this is an F year. Amongst ourselves we call it T137f. The tiny whale.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Ok well what happened was the nice rancher lady knew of a puppy whose owners had to move. Her farm dog was the mother of the puppy, and the new owners of the puppy had to move somewhere where they couldn't have the puppy, which was very sad. It was a very good puppy, with a good personality. Supposedly.

The rancher lady had been trying to think of a good farm home for the puppy - because it was several months old and it was already a farm dog, it wouldn't like living in someone's backyard - and she happened to have the same horseshoer, the kindly horseshoer, as the farmer. And she mentioned it to the kindly horseshoer and he said, fatefully, that yes, as a matter of fact, he could think of a good home that needed a really good farm dog. Because he knew of a farm where the only farm dog was an undersized, wayward, incorrigible Boston Terrier - a boston terrier with a long tail, to add insult to injury, and an extensive collection of sweaters - whose usefulness in a farm setting was considerably below zero.

It wasn't very long before we got the bad news that a real dog might be coming to live here.

"A Texas Heeler," the farmer informed us.

The Texas part sounded okay, after all if you refer to my map of the universe you will see that Texas is on it, which proves that it is a real place and that they have credible Nigerian Dwarfs there. The Heeler part did not sound that good. It sounded ominous, in fact. It hinted at a lot of unnecessary exercise, of being obliged to move pointlessly from Point A to Point B. So we took a vote and we voted unanimously, except for Moldy who likes to make new friends and Binky who did not understand the question, that we did not want the Texas Heeler to come.

The Texas Heeler came the next day. That was months ago. It is still here.

I don't know what is wrong with it but it must be something very serious because it is happy every single minute of every single day. It cannot wake up in the morning without thinking immediately: what a beautiful grand day, it will probably be the best one yet!

'Life! The Key Peninsula! This Moment in June!' is what it goes around thinking. Can you even imagine how tiresome this level of exuberance must be for someone of my stature who might at any moment be called upon to give a speech about some matter of grave importance, Swedish Fish or something like that? With this PUPPY in the background lolloping around and rolling in the grass and grinning crazily with delight? Can you?

Its name is Dolly.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and if you don't know it is the Year of the Goat. People call me Millie, or Baby Belle, Jr, but my name is Million Belles. I am named after Million Bells the Flower, the beautiful cascading easy-to-grow flower that looks good anywhere and brightens any garden.

Just like me. I have been brightening gardens for years, I especially like brightening the vegetable garden every chance I get. The last time I was in there I brightened all the chard out of the garden and most of the kale too, so I am also responsible for the new garden gate which unfortunately has a much stronger latch on it.

I have also proved easy to grow and that is why I am on a torture diet involving a few meager strands of local grass hay and a smattering of grain. When I say smattering I mean you can count the little pellets as they ting sadly into the feed pan. Ting ting ting - that's about it. Every day is another three-ting-day.

A lot has changed here, so many things, way too many to even calculate, some of them I have already forgotten and they will pass into eternity undocumented. Wronny is no longer the herd queen but that is a long story, longer than The Upanishads and deeper than the sea.

The farmer swore all up and down that we would not be getting another farm dog because that is just too much grief and heartache and besides in any case we could search far and wide and we would never find another dog like Spenny because there isn't one and it wouldn't be fair to the new dog would it, always living in the shadow of the Mt. Everest of dogs, the spendiferous Spenny the Angel Dog....etc etc...I'm sorry there was more but I dozed off, it was all cut from the same velvet cloth.

Then a couple of months later the farmer started saying, we certainly aren't going to go out and LOOK for another dog, that is ridiculous. But maybe some day the phone will ring and someone will say, hello, I have the most perfect farm dog in the world but unfortunately I just got a job singing Abba songs on a cruise ship and I cannot take my dog with me, and I wondered if by chance you might have room for a perfect farm dog? So we aren't going to LOOK for a dog but maybe some day the phone will ring and a dog will FIND us.

We all stared blankly, all thinking the same thing: I hope not.

The summer wore on into the fall. My daughter freshened with the most beautiful udder the herd has ever seen. The Terror turned one year old with no improvement in her behavior. Ellie May continued the family's smarmy tradition of following the farmer everywhere, simpering and begging for pets and scratches. The hay was cut and baled.

And then one day the phone rang and it was the very nice lady from the beautiful farm up the road where they have the lush pastures and the Angus cattle and the lady said, "hello, this may sound a little bit strange," - wait for it - "but I have the most perfect farm dog,"

.....(to be continued)