Tilting at Windmills

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I thought it was clever, the epitome of what I’m trying to do with this “Farmlosophy” blog. Last week we got our two Lamancha does, and I worked out a whole Don Quixote thing. I would explore my doubts about my project—are the giants of industrial agriculture like Monsanto and Cargill really just windmill-monsters? Am I just over romanticizing an era where hard working heroes still exist, indeed prevail? Am I really just crazy or is there something to my madness? —all couched cleverly in a literary reference that ties the work back into the more abstract, academic lens with which I’ve promised to look at my farming endeavor. What better a way to do my farmlosophy!

 

While I still have a romantic attachment to this idea, I can’t bring myself to write that blog. Here’s why:

When I made the decision to purchase these goats, I decided I needed to get some guardian dogs. After all, Misty and Crystal were not cheap. And, even if they were, I’m overly cautious when it comes to taking care of animals. However, as often happens (as always happens, actually), getting Fred and Chloe did not go exactly according to plan. Much like in purchasing our goats, my father and I arrived to pick up Fred and Chloe a little bit later than expected. Moreover, as is my style, there were a number of known unknowns that I failed to account for. Coyotes, after all, are not the only threat to goats. Goat diseases—google CAE, CL, and Johnes disease—are at least equally as insidious. To be clear here, these dogs lived with goats, had a distinct aroma of their former charges’ manure, and I couldn’t confirm whether or not this was a danger to my ladies.

IMG_0935(Fred and Chloe keeping two sets of eyes on the tree line)

 

The only solution, of course, was to bathe two 100+ pound guard dogs that didn’t know me and hadn’t been bathed before. What could go wrong?

 

That part, actually, was fine. It was getting home too late to get the dogs acquainted with the goats that was problematic. We decided the only solution was to kennel the giant dogs for the night to keep them away from my house cats and dogs.

 

That’s where my Sancho Panza comes into this tale.

 IMG_0004(Sancho P. Cat)

Sancho P. Cat apparently did not feel that he ought to play his part in this exploration of literature, farming, and philosophy. Nor did he think he ought to be confined to a room with no food, litter, or water, even if only for a few minutes while we secured the monsters that might kill him, given the chance. Sancho escaped and, evading my grasp, ran panicked straight towards the dogs. I finally managed to corner him at which point he made sure I knew he wasn’t playing by sinking his teeth into my hand. There would be no sitting with a glass of wine, rejoicing in our victory over our monsters/windmills together this evening. If I may mix literary references: if Mr. Burns is correct, and “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley,” then my half-cocked plans were doomed from the start.

In hindsight, I like this version of the story better than the one I had planned. It’s what farming has been like so far for me. Moreover, its what I’m told I should expect from farming. One hundred chicks arriving in the sleet on the day of your grandfather’s funeral (check); Attacked by your cat instead of your guard dogs and losing use of your left hand for three days, but having to put up barn walls anyway (check); Humid and 70 degrees on Wednesday morning with a low of 9 degrees on Thursday night in the first week you have your fancy new goats (check). I suppose it is all kind of going according to plan after all.

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(Misty and Crystal showing Fred who’s boss)

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