Goats

Our darling buds of May

Apple blossoms

For the first time since the kids were born, May gave us a true spring day (an afternoon, at any rate). Poor Darcy had been cooped up in the barn for nearly a full week. It was time to throw the doors open.

The rest of the herd was down in the pasture, so I closed the gate between the pen and pasture, just to give the new family time to adjust to one thing before the next. Then I opened the barn door.

Darcy fairly bounded out, loudly calling to her babies to follow her. It took them only a few minutes to let curiosity override fear, and then all three were out in the sunshine. In her happiness, Darcy did a twisting joy-leap off the high drive, and galloped down the hill to the back of the barn. The babies followed with their first real run down the slope, their sturdy little legs gathering and reaching beneath them as if they had always known how do to this.

After awhile, Darcy, with her gaze focused on the pasture, started calling. I’m guessing she was calling after her last-year babies (the 3Gs). Soon the rest of the herd had assembled on the other side of that gate and I let them in to the pen. Everyone huddled around the fresh kids and there was much sniffing. Darcy kept an eagle eye on the babies, nickering constantly, butting away anyone who was a little too interested. The unconcerned babies were everywhere, trying out their running and balancing skills on the rocks and ledges. I’m sure poor Darcy felt like she had toddler twins loose in a busy shopping mall.

Eventually, everyone got busy eating hay, except for Gideon, who was fixated on the little ones (whether it was interest, curiosity, or jealousy, I don’t know), so Darcy kept checking him, heading him off, butting him, pushing him away. She was gentle as these things go, but persistent. After a time, he got the hint and left to eat some hay. I hung out for quite awhile, sniffing noses with goats and snapping photos until my camera battery died. And then I went inside to leave the herd to themselves.

When I checked a little while ago, the adults were all lying in the straw and grass, sunning themselves, while the little ones explored the run-in stall and the rocks of the barn’s foundation.

Just beyond the pen, the apple trees are budding pink. Dandelions have sprung up out of nowhere and I saw honeybees sipping from them. The lawn is suddenly long enough to mow. The snowshoe hare we’ve caught glimpses of this winter has turned mostly brown again. The goldfinches are brilliant gold. There’s no stopping us now.

p.s. If you have an insatiable appetite for goatling photos, you can follow along as they grow by visiting their album on my Flickr page.

Surveying their kingdom Heels Both sides Meeting the family Mother and son, reprise
Darlings

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Goats

Here we are now

Darcy kept us waiting six days. She seemed unbothered by it all. It was just the humans who were anxious, all the way through yesterday morning when I suggested maybe we should talk to the vet to see if we should be concerned.

Of course, that’s what did it. Like taking an umbrella along to ensure it doesn’t rain, if you express your concern to the universe, the goat says, “Ok then, I guess I should oblige.”

It was around noon yesterday and I was going to give her one more check before going for my usual dog walk. No sooner had I stepped outside than I heard a bellow from the barn. I scooted out there with a confused dog by my side and found one wet baby lying in the barn bedding, with Darcy and several other members of the herd assembled around her in a protective semi circle.

I moved Darcy and baby 1 into the prepared birthing stall, then ran to call M home from work. Back out to the barn and Darcy was cleaning that first little one, a girl, whose fur was turning light as she dried.

M arrived in plenty of time to watch baby 2, a boy, arrive. He’s lovely, darker than the girl, and with funny ears that flop around and won’t stay out straight like his sister’s.

They are both doing well. Nursing, napping, being cleaned by their mother, working on learning how to use those little legs.

Outside, it’s raining. I hear it’ll rain for a week. That’s as good an excuse as any to hang out in the barn, listening to baby goats dream.

Being born is exhausting

Boy, still to take on goat appearance

Family portrait Learning to nurse

The ears Cleaning cleaning cleaning

Nap

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Goats

Briefly, about the names

Stop moving so quickly, you blurry girls!

Long way down?

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 learning to climb

Wellesley and 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.

–Alan Coren, from “Will Ye No Come Back Again?”, The Best of Alan Coren, Copyright ยฉ 1980 by Alan Coren

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.

Darcy

Darcy

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.

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