Week Mar 6
Sun: Bonnie to work –
stalls – weigh kids – lath house – chase goats around – mend fence
Mon: bay tree – firewood – start truck – manure Basil beds
Tues: yard, compost – woodpile
Wed: RAIN – finish taxes – meatballs –
… and one of the flaws in this Envelope method (apart from weather, which I am not going to mention in this post, except to say that now that enough warmth has thawed the stall floors so we can shovel manure, the rains have set in to the point where it would compact the soil to spread it while it’s too wet to till, and have soaked the ground for snap peas, which are just of a size to set, and cold nights still keep the greenhouse closed and heated, but the days are warm enough that the goats are bored with hay, but there hasn’t been enough sun to get the grass up good and the leaves out, so they are spending their days looking for new “secret exits” to other things to eat, and when I should be sowing more crops, which actually doesn’t matter a lot since the ground is so wet, I am spending half of mine rounding them up and keeping them off the road. There! I didn’t mention weather, hardly) is that just when you think you’re on top of everything goats get up to, they surprise you.
I had been wondering at the ability of some does to “put their kids down for a nap” – i.e. get them curled up in a snug corner of the stall while the does go out to browse. “Some” – other kids seem determined to follow Ma’s and see what’s so interesting in the pasture, woods, hayfield, garden or wherever they can get to.
Like one midmorning in January when all the does came up out of the woods. Columbine’s twins (big, forward and leaderly from birth) were with her: Hyacinth’s were napping in the stall: one of the triplets was with Jonquil, the other two nowhere to be seen. The big twins, in an early display of herd instinct, ran halfway down the hill and bleated loudly and repeatedly. There were answering bleats from the woods, across a ravine and up the next hill. I wound up traipsing thru snow and brush, over logs and at least one old fence line, to catch and carry the soaking wet, reluctant and squirming Curly and Ivy to a point where I could lift them over the pasture fence and let them run to Ma. (I am not sentimentalizing: that is what kids call their dams.)
That brings us to this past Sunday. Bonnie and I got a couple stalls shovelled, covered the carrot seed against a cold snap, and moved some raspberry canes, but had to stop 3 times to corral the goats. We closed one stretch of vulnerable fence, but looked unsuccessfully for their new escape route.
Heading back to start supper, we saw the does setting off down the hill in their field. On stall check, only one of the <week-old sets of twins were bedded down – the older pair, in fact. It seemed Aggie was going to take hers out to forage with her. I went on cooking and watched for the does to return. Of course, they came from the horse pasture. Without Aggie’s kids.
There’s just no way to describe the agony of that 2-hour search, or to credit Bonnie properly for tireless scrambling over hills and thru brush, and finally, for sharp eyes, attentiveness and a more open mind about what goats might do. We were leading Aggie along the entire browsing route, hoping she would head for a spot where she had bedded them down. Bonnie yelled, “Wait a minute – something white!” The two were curled up asleep, not far from the barn, within the narrow space of a three-trunked Locust tree, which Aggie had looked toward, but I had walked right past.*
Thanks also are due to John and Larry, for reminding me of how doe deers will bed fawns down, and how doe goats may do the same, “so keep looking.”
On Monday, I did get the truck started and up to the mechanic. So maybe the rest of the week will run smoother.
*I did, during all the scrambling, find the new secret exit route.