Monthly Archives: February 2015

Udder Perfection: A silly story

Cinnamon got pregnant last year.  We didn’t breed her.  She got pregnant.  Without our approval.  So our first hint was her udder.

We walked the goats to pasture one day.  As we walked them home that night, Cinnamon walked in front of me and I noticed a tiny, perfect udder.  “Look, Phil, Cinnamon has a tiny little udder!” I exclaimed happily.

Yep, happily.  I was oblivious.  I did not think “where did this udder come from?”  I was in that moment like many parents where such questions as “Mom, is birth control expensive?” are not a red flag, they are just moments in life.  And, like other parents, it was only many hours later that I thought to myself, “Hey, that was really strange! Oh crap!”  Because udders do not just crop up out of nowhere.  They grow to feed babies.

Babies!?!?  But Cinnamon was a baby!  My baby can’t have babies!

Well, she didn’t ask my permission.  And, clearly, it was happening.  “Goat berries! (that’s a polite way of saying “oh, crap!”) She hasn’t had prenatal care! I don’t know when she’s due!  Panic!!”  Also, I had missed the joyous anticipation.  I didn’t get to feel her babies moving for weeks before the big day, to say hi to tiny goat fetuses swimming in a big goat belly.  Hey, Cinnamon’s mom was kind of fat.  I had just figured that Cinnamon was kind of fat.  You don’t look at a 10-year-old and think “that must be a champion kart racer!” (I think Jeff Gordon WAS at that age!); you think “I hope he doesn’t touch my stuff, because they still pick their noses at that age.”  Fat OR pregnant were both possibilities, it was just that – we had kept the boy away.  Fat seemed more probable.

After it sank in, I scowled at the boy every time I fed him.  He looked at me like “Hey, she was game.”  And I wanted to scream at him, “Your sister is just a baby!!”  I still scowl at him sometimes.  He was just doing what bucks do – perpetuating the species.  I was just doing what people do – being grossed out at how utterly inappropriate it all was.  Too young, too inbred, too sneaky, too – ew!  I still don’t know how it happened.  He was separated.  He escaped a couple times, but I was always there.  I let him stay for a few minutes because he was nursing his mom and I felt bad for him, and then I’d take him back to his buck area so he wouldn’t make anyone pregnant.  Ha!

And I became a whirling dervish of calm, plodding research and chaotic, panicked action.  And, like many fathers in a crisis, Phil found my behavior mystifying.  He was supportive and followed orders, but, mostly, he stayed out of the way of his banshee farmer wife.  I spent days enhancing Cinnamon’s nutrition, giving her the best care, and checking for signs that birth might be imminent.  While researching all the ways birth could go wrong, what we could do about it if it did, and just how badly we had messed up our baby’s life by allowing her to mess up her own life when we weren’t looking.

Clean the farm!  Baby must have clean environment!  Build kidding stall!  Enhance nutrition!

And sometimes Cinnamon would step in front of me, turned the other way, and I would see her udder.  And, if Phil was nearby, I would stop my whirlwind of panicked work, grab Phil, and say “Look at her udder!  Isn’t it the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?”

And Phil would look at me like I was bat-[goat-berries] crazy.  Because it was the 10th time I said it.  In the midst of all this panic and thrashing, I ALWAYS had time to stop and love that little udder.  And he didn’t know why.  And he thought we had already covered “Isn’t it the cutest thing?” really thoroughly, so why were we making time for it in the middle of mucking the barn?

Because it was perfect.  Two tiny little grapefruits, perfectly rounded, like a dollhouse miniature of an udder.  Perfection.  I mean, if we went to Paris, and I took him to the Louvre on Monday, and we saw an amazing painting, and then we went back to the Louvre on Friday – the painting would still be amazing.  Right?  We’d still stop and let its beauty soak into our souls.  Even though we’d already seen it.

Well, maybe not 20 times, right?

1,000 times!  That HAS to be why people pay millions for paintings.  Can you imagine, a million dollars and one week later, you’re, like, “Okay, I’m over this one.”

Or maybe that perfect udder was a lucky rabbit’s foot.  Nothing bad could make such a lovely udder.  Right?  If the udder was perfect, everything else would be perfect.  Right?  Or, if I stopped for a minute and thought about how calm and perfect Cinnamon was, I could forget for a minute how panicked I was.

Well, Cinnamon made it.  Her perfect little udder stayed perfect.  We barely milked her, because I didn’t want to make heavy demands on the young mom – I just milked enough to train her “this is what it’s like to be milked.”  And she was good.  And she didn’t totally ruin her life.  And she didn’t have any trouble with birthing.  She was sneaky, gave birth overnight, and we opened the barn door one morning to find an extra goat.  He hopped right over to the door, and looked up at us with healthy, happy baby eyes, and then hopped away.


Well, hello there!

Cinnamon was a great mamma.

Now we’re getting ready for Planned babies.  Breed-ed babies.  I spent months and months searching for the right buck, planning timing and matings and researching pedigrees and I even made a spreadsheet.  And Kit jumped in with the buck when I was swapping girls.  She was verbally sold, to be picked up a couple days later.  Maybe she just wasn’t meant to go?  I canceled her sale.  But, at least I can give her proper care, so it’s not a crisis this time.  (And he is a nice buck, not a scoundrel brother.)

And Kit is starting to develop an udder.  I told Phil that Kit was starting to develop an udder.  And it was really cute.  He seemed wary.  When we went to the barn for evening chores, I called Phil over to see Kit’s udder for the first time and said “Isn’t it cute?!”  And he asked quietly, “are we going to do this again?”

Naw.  I’ll keep it to myself this time.  But, honey, could you muck the barn?


(Oh, yeah, and we still make soap.  We’re taking special orders for lotion for mid-March, and we’ll see you at the farmer’s markets this summer.)

My goatie warmed my heart today

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.