“Move mountains if you have to, but don’t waste an opportunity to create a little corner of the earth where friends gather, away from the world, laugh and talk and plant and harvest and eat and sleep and maybe even target-shoot their frustrations away. If we all had a place like this, the world would be a better place.”
— Louis Bromfield, 1948
While moving my little herd of fainting goats from their pen in the old bank barn, my pair of English Shepherds decided they would help me with the job. I had Blossom on a lead rope, easily moseying along, curious to see where I was taking her. She had her eye on the big pasture ahead, and the rest of my goats followed along like the herd animals they are.
Clover was close behind, and just as I turned to check on the progress of my journey, Channing and Billy spooked Clover, who fell over in a dead faint. Young Billy, a great, big, exuberant dog, stopped in his tracks as the goat stiffened up and fell over. Billy came running to my side as if to say, “I didn’t do it.”
Channing, so heavy with pups her belly touched the grass we were hiking through, panted hard, and her brown eyes seemed to convey, “this isn’t my biggest problem of the day … not by a long shot.”
Fainting goats are interesting creatures. They are mild-mannered, easy to work, quick to retreat in their own little interesting method.
I stopped Blossom and turned to wait for Clover, who was quickly getting his wits about him. The stiffness of his legs began to wane, he shook his head and stood up, taking his place in the pack just behind Blossom.
As we began to move back up the hill toward the pretty pasture, Billy once again responded to his own genetic code: “I need to herd these animals!” His exuberance once again threw the goats for a loop, and this time it was spunky little black and white Alfalfa who fainted, stiff little legs pointing skyward, looking like one very dead goat.
This time, Billy dropped and rolled, bumping right in to the stiff-legged Alfalfa. It was Billy’s way of apologizing, showing his submissive side as a way of saying, “I swear I didn’t mean to kill you dead.” As for me, I was belly laughing so hard I could barely continue the job.
People who ask me about this farm, our menagerie of horses, dogs, goats, barn cats, ponies and the visiting miniature donkeys, often ask me how we keep up with the work. If it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys, it’s not work.
A few days after moving the goats, Channing nested in fresh straw and brought 12 puppies in to the world. A beagle named Pepper who found her way to us required a Caesarean-section in our veterinarian’s clinic to deliver seven pups, and my Westie female Miss Parker has five tiny white polar bear-looking pups nursing and sleeping contentedly.
A couple of pregnant miniature donkeys will give us enough fun to sell tickets when they deliver a jack or a jenny in the coming days.
Gathered around a small bonfire last night with my kids, their friends and mine, I couldn’t help but think these really are the good old days. The real blessing is that we are wise enough to realize it.