The Virgin Goat of Goatalupe

One of the reasons that I raise Alpines is that they come in a variety of colors and patterns. I would get so tired of looking at goats that all look the same. Every year I hope to get spots and stripes and bands, and am disappointed when I don’t. Any goat that is born on my farm with spots or splashes has a guaranteed place on my farm. Forever. Even if she is fat and non-productive. I yearn for the goat with the Mickey Mouse pattern on her side. I pray for a Virgin Mary image. A map of Maine would do.
I am constantly tempted to add Nubians to my herd. Not so much for the butterfat, and certainly not for their hideous voices or frost-bite prone ears, but for the possibility of spots and frosting and new colors. I need to be able to look out the window and see a canvas of patterns in the herd.
Last year we added a Nubian buck. Of course we claimed it was for the butterfat his daughters would add to the milk. Secretly, though, I was hoping for those spots. His kids turned out to be oh, so cute, and oh, so marketable. Of course, those kids went first, and we’re left with monochromia (if that’s a word). So, this year, we’re adding a Saanen buck. Perhaps next season we’ll have little white babies running around. With spots or an image of Jesus.
But our farm is still not open to the public, so the faithful need not stop by to check.

The Year of Little Pea

I have no idea why we named her Little Pea, other than she was only 4 lb. when she was born. Smaller than a peapod or a peanut? She was so little, I bought a special bottle for her. And of course she was spoiled rotten. She became our farmers’ market mascot, riding in the truck on Claire’s lap. Customers adored her.

We lost Little Pea last week — the saddest loss this year. She struggled so hard to deliver her first kid, and we tried hard to help her. We took her to the vet, a caesarian was indicated, against my better judgement, and she didn’t make it. She never got very big, and her kid was 10 -1/2 lb. Way too big for that little body to deliver. I’m so sad. All the yearlings miss her. Another disturbance in the force.

Welcome Spring!

Kidding is stretching out longer this year than it has in previous years. We’re into week three now, with 47 kids on the ground, and at least eight more does to kid. Spring itself seems to be stretching itself out as well, giving us a tiny gift each day. This morning, I heard the first peeper! On Sunday, the bees were swarming in the newly blooming crocus, and the chives are peeking out. The snow has receded gradually over the last week, with only isolated pockets left here and there. The snow and hay pack which has been burying the hay feeders has shrunk enough that the goats can stand and eat their hay again, instead of kneel. And the best part so far this spring is welcoming apprentices Jamien and Jeff. Welcome all!

March forth, Spring ahead, Sucker punch

To paraphrase T. S. Elliot, March is the cruelest month. Just when the sure signs of spring are starting to appear — sap buckets, frost heaves, skunks — the snow keeps on coming, and they take away an hour of daylight in the morning. Don’t they know that the darkness is the worst part of a northern winter? Our house is dark, I get up in the dark to do chores, I spend the day at work in a windowless room, I come home at dusk. Day after day is gray and overcast. Everything outside is monochrome and colorless.
This is one reason why I go a little nuts with the Christmas lights, hanging them everywhere, and leaving them up until Easter (as long as Easter is in April, that is). At least I can take a small bit of cheer from the colorful dots of lights everywhere. Until the snow is so deep, that all the outside lights are buried. And they are making them so cheaply that they do not last more than a season, and after three months of being on continuously, mine are all dying out. So, not only do I still have to get up in the dark, but my lights are going out.
I remember flying kites in March, in bare fields. I remember walking the goats with their spring kids in March in bare fields. I remember St. Patrick’s Day when there was green grass and daffodils. What is happening here? Winter lasts at least a month longer than it did when I was growing up, and I live less than 200 miles from there, and closer to the ocean. It’s so difficult to stay optimistic, when March just sucker punches again.