Abbey loves me. Not in a good way. In a co-dependent way or something. It’s okay, I love Abbey, even though she’s a little crazy (does that make me co-goat-dependent?).
To wit: We milked Abbey through winter. Just Abbey. Other goats were pregnant, so they made babies instead of milk. Abbey did not feel unjustly singled out for extended work. She felt vindicated – Abbey was the only goat worthy of milking. She always knew she was special, and now we knew it too.
But Sweetie makes too much milk for her baby. We HAVE to milk Sweetie because she makes so much milk that her udder gets big and full, and her teats get so stuffed with milk that baby Spirit can’t fit the teat in her mouth. So we started milking Sweetie.
Abbey stands outside and stares daggers at Sweetie.
Why are we milking Sweetie?
Why are we fussing over Sweetie?
Abbey can make milk.
Abbey’s milk is better than Sweetie’s milk. Right?
Meanwhile, Abbey tripped up our Abbey-breeding-plan, and I have to do a pregnancy test on her. I really thought she spurned the buck, but now I’m not sure. If she’s pregnant, I don’t want to milk her in case the kids need her to focus her metabolic energy on them.
So I’m milking Abbey a lot less, to help her stop making milk. (She makes a lot, so she needs an adjustment period before we stop milking altogether.)
I’m not JUST milking Sweetie, I’m abandoning Abbey. (Abbey was bottle-raised. She isn’t a goat so much as a puppy-dog who thinks she’s a person.)
Abbey stares daggers at Sweetie.
Well, our milking routine is all jumbled now. I didn’t plan to milk Sweetie so soon. I didn’t plan to stop milking Abbey just yet.
I came out to milk Sweetie today, and she was in the pasture with the goats. A good bit away. So I called her. Our neighbors already think we’re nuts. Traffic was picking up, so it was getting noisy. I whistled for Sweetie like I’d whistle for a dog. “Whoo-ooo-woo. Sweetie!”
Sweetie maahed back at me. “Sweetie!” And Abbey came running. Like a dog. “You need something? Here I am!” I hugged Abbey and waited for Sweetie to come in. I milked Sweetie. Abbey wandered off after staring daggers at Sweetie.
I went back out and called Abbey. Abbey – as unfriendly as she can be towards goats – was waiting at the bottom of the hill for Sweetie. Nobody likes to walk to pasture alone, so Abbey waited to walk with Sweetie. “Abbey!” Abbey looked at me with annoyance. “Abbey, do you want to get milked”?
Abbey holds a grudge. But not for long. She’s a puppy. So she stood at the bottom of the hill and made a big deal of ignoring me. “Abbey, come get milked.”
She turned her head away. Letting me know I had done her wrong.
“Come on Abbey.”
And she trotted up the hill. I told her I’d meet her in the barn. I don’t have to wait and walk her in. I know she’ll come in. When she got to the gate, I let her in, she hopped up onto the milk stand, and we got to work. I milked enough to let the pressure off her udder, and let her finish eating what she wanted. Then I sent her on her way. She went out the back of the barn, and I took the milk out the front of the barn.
“Meeeehhh.” Abbey called to me from the gate. I looked back, and she was alone. Phil was home by then, and the milk bucket is heavy, so he carries it for me when he can. “Phil, can you take it in? I’ll be in in a minute.”
Sweetie wasn’t waiting for Abbey. Abbey was alone, no goats in sight. “Sweetie!” Silence. It was raining and muddy and I was too tired to climb down the hill. I took Abbey in the barn and gave her some alfalfa hay. If it was Sweetie left behind, I would have had to walk her down the hill. But Abbey is okay without her goats, as long as her people love her.
I love them both. But Abbey will be there for me, even if it means being left behind. And Abbey will stare daggers at Sweetie, but she’ll still stand alone at the bottom of the hill, waiting for Sweetie. Goats are complicated. Abbey scares Sweetie, and she’ll shake her head menacingly at Sweetie at the bottom of the hill, but she’s THERE. Standing alone. Making sure Sweetie doesn’t have to be alone. When Sweetie comes in from the pasture, alone, desperate to be with her sleeping baby, Abbey idles up the hill. Sweetie comes into the barn, joins her baby, realizes baby is still sleeping. Sweetie maaahs with anxiety. She wants to be with her herd. She wants to be with her baby. The herd is in the pasture. The baby is sleeping in the barn. A high status goat would have the herd with her, no matter where she is, but Sweetie isn’t high status, so her maternal instinct drives her up the hill alone. We turn around, and Abbey is quietly munching hay as if she just wanted to come in from pasture. Eh. Abbey could be out bugging the other goats. I joke that Abbey has Goatsberger’s syndrome. She cares, but she doesn’t get along well. She’ll never be friends with Sweetie. But, in some ways, Abbey is the best friend Sweetie will ever have.