Wednesday, December 14, 2011

oh for the love of goats

When Thaddeus e-mailed and suggested that he bring Captain Jack over with Flora and Mocha I sat at the keyboard for a long time. The does are up at his place because I was not sure I could handle having a buck at my place. I've heard stories. Had a few experiences. Not really feeling like I would like to have any stories or experiences just now thank you.

But I have just talked to my dearest friend, my adopted mother, Frannie. She is going through chemo treatments and wants goat milk. From me. Frannie has become dedicated to her health in a remarkable and loving way. How can I say no to her request?

I want to say no to Thaddeus. Ask him to please drop my does off and take Captain Jack back to Bobbie's herd.

When the red truck pulls into the driveway I know it is Thaddeus. The smell of Jack wafts from the rear of the covered bed. "Maaaahhhaaa. Maaaaa," accompanies thumps and bumps. The four goats I have in the fenced garden come running over, curious.

Thus begins an adventure, a story. Buck plus does equals story. Period.

My clothes have the slightest perfume, unmistakeable, as vital as skunk. Love it or hate it. My son Eric will not come near it. Too much. I like it. So does Tinkerbelle. The one doe who should not be bred. She is hot for Captain Jack. Hot in the worst way. She's been calling for him for days now. Calling herself hoarse. I have read of does that can call every 30 seconds and then some for the days they are in heat.

Tinkerbelle peeks from the back.
I perch at the top of the garden where I have a view of the two side by side pens. Captain Jack, Mocha and Flora are on one side, the side surrounded by eight foot fencing. Tinkerbelle, Latifa, Luna and Mr. Peanut roam the other side of the fencing to sniff at the returned does and their escort, the Captain. Jack greets the others. Tinkerbelle goes wild. Her head comes through the fencing to be on the same side as Jack. Jack wildly nibbles her face, neck, ears and she is into it. They are rubbing up against each other, eager, clearly happy to be with each other. Not one single question about what goat love looks like. I had wondered when Thaddeus reported that the girls were just not into Jack, that he had to go to Oregon, that Jack and my girls had a go no go decision to make.

I had hoped Thaddeus was wrong and that somehow they had connected goaty style while they were up at his place. But in the presence of such obvious ardor exhibited by Tinkerbelle and Captain Jack I know they have not. Frannie wants milk therefore Captain Jack is here to stay for a visit.

I watched the proceedings along the fence line for a while. I watched convincing myself that this was one side and that was another. That there would be no co mingling of goats across the fence apart from the harmless necking. I had to admit to a friend that I really hoped they could manage no more than necking through a fence. You see, I've heard stories. I came inside to watch the storm clouds glide into the sky after ten days of clear blue sky and a frozen pond. Where would Jack sleep? Who would he sleep with? I thought Flora and Mocha would be with him. Sleep under the covered area in the chicken coop, a small highly fenced place within the larger garden. Yes, that's it. There is an area that stays dry. It is not optimal. But the dogs do patrol at night. Of course I have heard that some trouble bears have been released in the area. Bear that have come from the national parks where people feed them and they know the things human offer are  food. Normally in this wild where I live there are not bear troubles of a large nature. The usual nature. Like the year we lost two sheep to bear. Had two old dogs that year. But I have one very vigorous dog and another good dog. I've had no bear troubles. I hope Jack will be safe.

Dark falls rapidly near the solstice. By five it is dark. At 4:15 I go out to the garden to see how things are going. It takes me a while to find the goats. Chickens are active, around. But the goats are not in the larger garden. All manner of thought begins to pluck at my mind. I am fractions of a second from letting those thoughts run away with me and then I see the goats crowded into the smaller chicken enclosure. The door has swung shut somehow. Relief. This side of the fencing. The other four have travelled the fence line and are on the far side of the chicken coop, nearby. I step into the chicken enclosure. I wear boots at all times this time of year. Frozen muddy chicken yard is one thing to walk on. When the day warms and the muck thaws...yucky mucky. Sucky.

Fearless of muck I step into the coop. I look to the end where my darlings are doing their work munching overgrown blackberry vines. So smart to find the worst place in the garden from my point of view as gardner, the place with the most blackberry. Pleased, I start towards them. Mocha and Flora come running towards me, to the open gate and into the rest of the garden. I look into the blackberry thicket and there stands Captain Jack, his true love by his side. Tinkerbelle, tail wagging, nipping at his neck as he nips back at hers. Are they in post-coital bliss? I fear this to be true. If the violence of their initial head contact is any indication, then they are a happy couple. They stand next to one another, side by side, touching along the length of their bodies.
There is nothing to be done at this point. If Tinkerbelle has managed to get herself over (?) or under (?) the fencing, somehow materializing on the side of Captain Jack and they have done the deed...well...I will figure out how to participate in the next part of the story.
Of all the does, all five, that live here at Quail Meadows, it is Tinkerbelle and Tinkerbelle alone that should not be bred. She was run over by a truck when she was a kid, a few months old. Her pelvis was broken. She was cared for by Bobbie with such TLC that she in the friendliest goat that lives here. Bobbie made me promise I would not get her pregnant since we do not know if she can get pregnant, carry a baby safely or deliver at all. So that's how it is.
I separate Captain Jack from the rest of the herd. He stays in the chicken coop, locked up with the hens for tonight, happy for the moment with a leaf of alfalfa. This can't last long, there are many problems associated with this method of buck care. Like I said, I'm in the midst of a story and I wasn't sure I wanted one. But who am I to control any of this wild ride called life?
Tinkerbelle called to Jack, Jack to her or the world, as I led Tink to the goat barn. Everyone settled down into the deepening darkness of the darkest days of the year. Sleep will take us all and lay to rest anything of worry, at least for a few hours. Tomorrow is another day...will I be able to keep the love goats apart?? Will I find out just how Tinkerbelle is finding her way into the garden enclosure? Will anyone else figure out how to be with Captain Jack? Will the two does that I really wish to breed ever care for him as Tinkerbelle does? Stay tuned. Can I stand the tension? Can you?

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