It’s nothing like the bittersweet when you watch your friend’s children, or your own children, grow beyond your hold. They’re just goats, after all.
How could they have gone from this to this in just 12 months? They did it so incrementally that we barely registered the changes, the way H came to be taller than I am, the way the grass goes from winter straw to “If you don’t mow it now the yard will become an unrecoverable jungle!”
What else has happened in those 12 months that I didn’t notice, and that’s now irretrievably lost?
Oh, best to avoid that particular rabbit hole today, when I’m thinking about Mother’s Day and having just listened to Roz Chast’s moving interview on Fresh Air about the loss of her parents.
Nope. Won’t do that. Won’t think that.
Instead I’ll think about how gorgeous those little goat girls have become; how Doris loves to have her head scratched just behind those horns; how Darcy hangs back, like a shy girl at the dance, but is all in for a cuddle once you crouch down in the straw with her.
I went out in the May sunshine and told them the story of their birth. They didn’t give a darn about that, but the treats in my hand held their full attention. I sang “Happy Birthday.” They gave me that goat look, the one that says, “We love our humans, but we’ll never really understand them.”
At the risk of boring you with baby goat blather, here’s just one more. Then I’ll be quiet. I’ll try. Really.
I just wanted to take a second to explain the origin of the names since a few people have asked.
First of all, we are following the convention that many goat breeders use, which is to choose names that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. The letter changes every year, advancing in alphabetical order. This year’s letter is “D” (last year’s was “C”, next year’s is “E”. You see how it works…). Our does were all born in 2006, a “W” year.
We had a lot of “D” ideas (including “Doctor Who”), but it turns out it was fairly easy to name the doelings once we met them.
Doris Maurice (Dory)
Dory’s name comes from one of our favorite essays by Alan Coren, about the brutal reality of returning home after a two-week sailing trip in Greece and finding that the housekeeper has abandoned the house and pets.
Get to fishing pond, three fish floating in it, belly-up and covered in white spores; suddenly, oh my God, remember Doris Maurice! Doris Maurice is tortoise, so-christened by four-year-old son since no-one knew whether it Doris or Maurice, tortoise-sexing not being family talent, go to tortoise-run behind greenhouse, discover matter of sex purely academic now, as Doris Maurice look extremely deceased. Rotten housekeeper, tortoise needs water daily, pick up Doris Maurice, little legs stay outside shell, no panicky withdrawal, look at little face, Doris Maurice dead as doornail.
What can I say? It’s a sad ending for poor Doris Maurice (which we’ve always pronounced as “Doris Morris”), but the writing is hilariously harried and exasperated. We’ve laughed about it for years, and the name “Doris Maurice” just makes us smile.
Doris, or Dory, she is. But we will keep her well fed and watered.
Partly named for Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and partly for the song “Darcy Farrow”, an old favorite from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High album, which I listened to fairly obsessively when I was kid. The song is another bit of sadness (we do tend to like the sad songs and stories around here), but it’s also beautiful, and delicate, just like Darcy herself.
Today, D & D are one week old and they’re bouncing around the barn and goat yard, testing their springy legs, exploring every corner, claiming every rock peak as their own Everests. The other day, I saw Darcy chasing Lars, the three-year-old wether, up the hill. I think they’re pretty well settled in to the place.
After a year+ break, we’re back to milking (just a bit right now, to help relieve some pressure from the side of Wellesley’s udder that the babies aren’t nursing from yet), and we made our first batch of cheese today. It’s busy, and all kind of wonderful.