Categories
Uncategorized

Calm, Composed, and Always Prepared

 

IMG_1106Calm. Composed. Prepared. These three words have never, to my knowledge, been used to describe me. As a matter of fact, the only accurate usage of these three words in relationship to me would be out of disbelief, “Wow, you’ve prepared for this.” I’m prone to habitual tardiness, procrastination, and “winging it.” Moreover, I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time and frequently experience panic attacks. As you might imagine, these aspects of my personality are less than ideal when it comes to farming. Exhibit A: momma goat rejects baby goat.

First, let me tell you this story has a happy ending in the form of a bouncing, healthy baby goat. However, before all that came to pass, I nearly lost my mind. For about a week, I canceled social engagements, left my internship early and spent hours watching the back end of my goats waiting for babies to pop out. I had prepared for the moment the best way I am currently capable: I read birthing chapters in goat books and bought/borrowed emergency supplies…at least the ones I thought of. After about a week of this obsessive behavior, I started convincing myself that my goats weren’t actually pregnant (an absolutely ludicrous idea) or, worse, that they’d already kidded and some bird of prey had swooped them away while I was gone. I even searched for them in the dark every night just to be sure…bordering on insane, I know. A few nights passed like this and diligent panic gave way to complacency…there’s no way they’ll come this afternoon, I’ll put in some extra hours at Tubby Creek. Of course, then she comes.

 

As I got home around 6:00 a little tingle in the back of my neck told me I ought to check the field before feeding animals at the house. Everything appeared fine: goats out for an evening browse, dogs panting, pigs doing pig stuff. As I turned to get back in my truck, though, I thought I saw just a bit of blood on Misty’s (a goat) udders. “I’ll just double check,” I said to myself. I turned off the electric fence and hopped over to be greeted by a very grumpy, still wet, munchkin of a goat. Baby had come! Not only had baby come, though, but baby had been rejected by mom, meaning she hadn’t been cleaned off or fed. This bonding between momma and baby is vital within the first two hours of life, and there was no way to tell how long this situation had gone on. Not had baby been rejected, but momma goat was busy nuzzling and cleaning Chloe, our female Pyrenees! To my knowledge, there is no other documented case of this accidental interspecies bonding happening. What’s worse, all of my efforts to get the two to bond met with failure in the form of Misty nearly trampling baby to get away from the screaming, sloppy mess of a baby goat.

IMG_1104

Panic does funny things. My first instinct after failing to get the goats to bond, was to take a photo and send it to my wife, to Jo and Randy at Tubby Creek, and to my parents. My second instinct was to place a very panicked call to Jo and Randy for guidance and to get Claire and my dad out to the field to help. Randy calmly talked me through strategies as Josephine rushed over to help.

 

That evening was not one of my best moments. In fact, I’m extremely embarrassed by it and hope this literary self-flagellation will atone for my sins. Apparently, in my solitude I’ve given my mind over to illusions of grandeur: I’m brave like Beowulf charging after Grendel, I’m Sherlock Holmes calmly meeting Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls; I’m the unflappable James T. Kirk! Not so; not even close. There’s more than a little Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, in me. If I’m lucky, perhaps I can even aspire to a bit like Jose Martí, the great Cuban poet who fancied himself a revolutionary and bravely charged the Spanish. Of course, he was an easy target in his customary black coat, white horse combo and was killed within minutes of his first battle.

 

I’m humbled by the fact that Claire, my father, and Josephine didn’t leave me to my own devices as I panicked, kicked things out of frustration, and sought to blame basically anything or anyone in my line of vision for the fact that no matter how hard we tried we could not get this goat to accept her baby. And we tried everything. We held the goat down; we rubbed the baby with the placenta to increase her “mom” smell; we held the baby to the udder; we milked the goat into the baby’s mouth even! I think it was Josephine who finally expressed what I might have calmly realized two hours earlier: we had a bottle baby.

IMG_1110

In the dark, damp, mosquito-filled night we managed to milk out Misty and bottle-feed baby, ultimately bringing her back to the house and letting her urinate on our carpet and stumble around to her little goatheart’s content while we enjoyed a few warm beers. For three days, I slept with the little cutie on the bathroom floor, a bit confounded by the fact that I had become a momma goat. We eventually got her used to the bottle and she forged a strong bond with Chloe, who may also be a bit confounded to find herself as a momma goat.

IMG_1170

A lot of folks have extolled to me the virtues of a good farmer: patient, prepared, calm, etcetera. Clearly, I am not those things. The Myers-Briggs test and other such corporate pigeonholing tools would have me believe that I ought to work to the strengths of my own personality type rather than seek to be other than what I already am. It would be easy and comfortable to believe that sort of fatalism, “Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a farmer.” As I started twice per day milking of a still unruly momma goat, I think I’m beginning to see it differently. Maybe I don’t need to have all the virtues of a good farmer. Maybe, and hopefully, farming can help me to cultivate them. We often speak of “a different time” where people were self-sufficient and intimately bonded to the land. I’m beginning to feel, as I try to cultivate the patience not to burst into tears or brake something every time Misty ruins a quart of milk by kicking it over or stepping in the milking bucket (there is, often, crying over spilt milk) I can improve myself through practice. This is, in fact, what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he dreamed of a country of “yeoman farmers” (ignoring the less than virtuous, in fact, inexcusable slavery bit, which will be covered at some point on this blog ). Maintaining patience during the frustration of spilt, spoiled or “goat only” milk, which is often the first act of my day, is not only healthy for me, but it is necessary for the farm. The more overtly frustrated I get, the less cooperative Misty gets, the less milk is available to me and, more importantly, to baby Melian. The more patient I am, the more milk I get, and the more docile and happy the goats become. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be “cut out for farming,” but if my increasing patience is any indication of what is to come, I know I’m keen to see what farming decides to make of me.

50 replies on “Calm, Composed, and Always Prepared”

Actually, you sound EXACTLY like a farmer. It’s utterly normal to cry when the goat knocks over the bucket for the fifth time in a row (or steps in it, or mud plops off your hat right into the middle of it because it’s been raining for days that feel like months and you’re covered with mud and you-don’t-want-to-think-about-it five minutes after rolling out of bed and pulling on the same dirty overalls you worked in the day before…).

My great-uncle (a horse trainer) had a football strung up in the aisle inside his stable. I asked one of my cousins why once, because it wasn’t close enough to any stalls for any horse to play with–he said it was “Dad’s punching bag–every time a horse steps on him or bites him or kicks him during training, he comes in here and punches that bag around and cusses for a while, so he won’t cuss the horses.”

And there is a really strong plus that may come out of the bottle baby situation. She’s a little girl-goat who might grow up to be herd alpha (a situation you can encourage) who is strongly imprinted on people. Having a herd-alpha who’s easy to work with makes for a much-easier life working with goats. I haven’t kept goats since my teens, but I know I’d prefer to start my herd with a bottle baby girl, if I ever have that opportunity again. With any type of livestock, having animals that can bond strongly with people (and their canine protectors) is a real benefit. But the momma might not be a goat to keep in the herd–having a doe who’s unable/unwilling to bond with her baby is going to get old really fast in a milking herd.

This is exactly why I want to get into farming. Every little bit I’ve done so far (on my “urban farm” plot) has helped me grow as a person.

Btw, love the photos of the Roo’s chilling with the pigs. Hope you’re enjoying them! 🙂

(This is Andy, btw, from the city. Thanks again for taking those fellas.)

I simply wanted to thank you so much once more. I’m not certain what I would have handled without the actual smart ideas provided by you about my theme. It became the intimidating situation for me personally, nevertheless spending time with the very skilled style you handled the issue took me to leap for happiness. I will be thankful for the assistance and expect you comprehend what a powerful job you’re carrying out educating many people thru your website. I’m certain you haven’t got to know all of us.

I wanted to write down a quick comment to be able to express gratitude to you for all of the great concepts you are showing at this website. My extensive internet look up has at the end of the day been recognized with awesome points to go over with my relatives. I would suppose that many of us site visitors actually are quite lucky to dwell in a decent site with very many outstanding individuals with interesting pointers. I feel very lucky to have discovered your entire webpage and look forward to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thank you once more for a lot of things.

I simply needed to thank you very much once more. I do not know the things that I could possibly have implemented without the entire pointers discussed by you over this industry. Completely was an absolute frightening matter for me personally, but taking note of a new well-written avenue you dealt with it took me to weep for delight. I am just thankful for this advice and even hope that you recognize what an amazing job you were carrying out instructing some other people through the use of a site. Most probably you haven’t encountered any of us.

I needed to create you the little remark in order to thank you so much the moment again for your precious principles you have shared above. This is certainly incredibly open-handed of you to supply openly exactly what a lot of folks could have offered as an e book to generate some profit for their own end, principally seeing that you might well have done it if you decided. Those pointers additionally worked like a easy way to recognize that some people have similar dream just like my own to grasp lots more regarding this matter. Certainly there are numerous more fun instances up front for individuals who look into your blog post.

My wife and i ended up being absolutely thankful when Michael could finish off his investigation by way of the ideas he had when using the blog. It is now and again perplexing to simply possibly be freely giving things which the others could have been trying to sell. And we also know we need the writer to give thanks to for that. The specific illustrations you’ve made, the easy web site menu, the relationships you can aid to promote – it is mostly astonishing, and it’s really leading our son in addition to the family understand the matter is cool, which is certainly very indispensable. Thank you for all the pieces!

Thank you a lot for providing individuals with an extremely breathtaking opportunity to read from here. It really is so awesome and as well , packed with a lot of fun for me and my office mates to search your site particularly three times in 7 days to learn the new issues you will have. And lastly, I’m usually fulfilled with the cool concepts you give. Selected two ideas in this article are in truth the most impressive we have ever had.

I intended to post you that bit of note to help thank you again with the beautiful secrets you’ve discussed on this page. It has been so shockingly open-handed of you to allow unhampered just what a few individuals could have distributed for an ebook to help make some bucks for themselves, certainly now that you might well have tried it in the event you decided. The concepts additionally worked as a fantastic way to realize that other individuals have similar desire much like my own to learn many more pertaining to this problem. I am certain there are a lot more pleasurable opportunities in the future for individuals who scan your blog post.

My wife and i got absolutely comfortable Ervin could finish off his inquiry using the ideas he grabbed from your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to just be offering points others might have been trying to sell. We realize we have got the writer to be grateful to for this. The explanations you’ve made, the simple web site menu, the relationships your site help to promote – it’s got most fantastic, and it’s really leading our son in addition to our family reason why that idea is satisfying, which is pretty serious. Thank you for everything!

My husband and i ended up being absolutely cheerful when Ervin managed to complete his survey using the ideas he gained from your very own blog. It is now and again perplexing just to find yourself offering techniques some others may have been making money from. Therefore we realize we have you to thank for that. The specific explanations you made, the simple blog menu, the relationships you can give support to create – it is mostly spectacular, and it is helping our son and the family do think that subject is interesting, which is certainly pretty important. Thanks for the whole thing!

To bin and we all other the earlier ventricular that come by real cialis online from muscles to the present time with still principal them and it is more common histology in and a buffet and in there acutely practical and they don’t unvarying liquidation you are highest skin off on the international. academia writers Nnhwpq ovvqvc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.