Once upon a time, Bean (Goatzilla) was big and waddly and uncomfortable. Every morning, we would walk the goats to a distant pasture. Every evening, we walked them back to their safe and cozy barn. The goats would race to see who could get to the barn fastest, and they would jump and play as the crossed the farm.
But Bean was big and fat and waddly with a belly-full of babies (or an udder full of milk, I don’t remember which). One day, I noticed she tried to run, stopped, tried again. I called to her. “It’s okay, Bean, I’ll walk with you.” And she stopped and waited for me to catch up. I put a hand on her shoulder, and we walked back to the barn. This became our routine. Phil went ahead with the fast goats, I stayed behind with my waddly-slow goat, and Bean and I walked, quietly and sedately across the farm.
It’s been a while since we did that.
I had forgotten it.
I love Bean. She’s the Buddha of goats. Big belly, big heart, gentle soul. She’s a goat of few words, and she “mobs” me for pets and rubs by standing next to me with the patience of a mountain. The fast goats push and shove and demand attention. Bean, when she needs attention, stands still and quiet in the middle of the jostling, almost unnoticed. And she waits. Until I notice her. She accepts her pets and rubs with the same peaceful spirit. Mamma #1 grunts with pleasure and rubs me back. Meg gets frustrated that I’m not scratching her just right, and she wiggles and jostles her head so I reach the right spot. Bean stands still and calm. Petting doesn’t make her happy. It gives her peace.
Well, that’s Bean. My little river rock, unchanged by the eddy of goat rapids swirling around her.
Today, I went to the far, far part of the goat’s pasture to work on some blackberry brambles. The goats raced after me with joy. They LOVE when I take them on walks. They could have gone to the far pasture themselves, but they really, really like when I go with them and keep them safe. So we went down the hill, and the goats leaped and hopped and scampered happily. I love to watch that.
And I walked ahead of them around the bend. They follow a little ways. Someone decided it was scary, and they ran back to the barn. I stood in the middle of the lane, looking back, calling them. They didn’t come back. But Bean was waiting for me. I turned and kept going, further from the barn. Bean looked back toward her herd. Looked at me. And followed me. I knew she wasn’t doing it for joy – she didn’t pick a careful path, didn’t pace herself or look for something to nibble as she came.
She hopped onto a rock and stood guard while I worked. She didn’t graze or forage – just stood on the rock, keeping guard.
And then she walked me back to the barn. I got tired, and I sat for a bit. Bean stopped and waited.
“It’s okay, Tracy, I’ll walk with you.”
We finished the walk together, joined the herd again, and Bean stood by my side, quiet and patient, and let me rub her cheeks the way she likes. Just looking at me with big brown eyes that I can never read. With Bean, I know her by her actions.