Friday, January 18, 2008

Why I still keep my goats

Since the beginning of the fall semester, I've been struggling with this question: Should I keep my goats? I'm not at home to do morning chores and I can't really direct chores in the evening anymore.

Ever since I was four years old I've been the manager of the goat barn; keeping it neat, trimming hooves, mucking pens, making sure grain and hay aren't wasted (as well as wasting them myself), and coordinating breeding and kidding.

But then college classes hit my life like a loaded sand bag flung from a semi-truck, and I dropped out of goat chores. I gave my best milker to my brother, my two remaining elderly goats I entrusted to my sister, and I left the barn in the semi-capable hands of my siblings collectively.

I've been missing my goats. I didn't realize how good it is to see a creature looking up to you, depending on you for its needs. I didn't realize how relaxing cleaning a pen can be after a frustrating day. To take out all the pent up wrath on shovelfuls of manure that are barely light enough to lift. I had forgotten the enraged comical mixture of feelings that wash over you when suddenly a large idiotic calf dumps his bucket of water on you, then wails forlornly till you bring him more. I had forgotten Caprina's big dark blue eyes, watching to keep her herd in line, keeping the younger does in their place, neglecting her own feed to make sure everybody else isn't ursurping authority in her absence, accusing me with glares for my neglect of her and the herd. I had forgotten the simple, trusting, aged eyes of Chatter, dumbly accepting the fact that I can't stay all night, but silently pleading for me to return (and maybe even bring a handful of corn with me!). And Darey, how could I forget the ancient wether I have raised from a kid? The one who never gets sick and survives kidney stones that were supposed to kill him. You can't leave such creatures without a feeling akin to torture.

Well the long and short of it is that I've returned to the barn. Not full time, not even as manager (that's hard). I simply take care of the two senior citizens and clean rabbit and calf pens. It's not alot,(though sometimes I even neglect that) but it is enough to clear my mind, to bring my huge theoretical ideas back to the reality of mud, sweat, labor, and the clear, muddled noises and nuzzling of animals that depend on you.

There is something humbling in the realization that a creature depends on you, trusts you. It's a realization that forces you out of bed at night to check to make sure the 'bitties' are all safe, makes you get dirty, muddy filthy, when you'd rather be clean or dry, convicts you of your negligence and selfishness and makes you cringe inside when you find that there are conditions that may hurt your animals which you cannot change (such as barns flooding).

Anyway, I'm glad to be back to the barn. I might even beg my brother to give me back Caprina for the summer!

Reveling in the reality of dirt...........!

1 comment:

Snap said...

You know, if you realy miss goat chores, you can replace me. I would not be that heart broken.