A total couch potato day – in between chores and a Little Grey check. The rain came down so hard most of the day. Real April showers. The Guineas seemed the smartest of my lot. They stayed inside and watched the rain through their screen windows.
The jennies started off out of it all, in the barns, mostly dry. Then one of them got the idea to check out the front paddock. And when one goes – they all go. There are two shelters there. One a lean to with an overhang. The other a tarped tent. Rosie took stock of the situation and claimed the tent. When Darby and Bella finally realized the rain was not going to stop they moved under the lean to.
About an hour later I looked out to see both Rosie and Bella in the tent. Haven’t seen that before. They had to stand side by side leaning up against each other. But they were dry! Darby on the other hand … stood morosely just outside the tent (no room …) … water streaming down her face. The lean to is only ten feet away from there. Not sure what her motivation was … I’ve learned that even if I go out and offer ‘treats’ they will not follow me to the back paddock if it is raining hard. They’d rather stand their guard through it all. Knowing that they don’t have the same ‘waterproof’ coats that horses do … I shiver just thinking about the trickling drops just under their hair. Glad to see them back at the barns by the end of the afternoon!
I dropped down the road to check on Little Grey again at noon. Each time I’m there I can see he is more and more active within the herd. He knows who to avoid and who to approach. The other kids treat him as one of the regular playmates. He is quick to note when I catch up with one of the wet nurse goats and dives for a good drink. I wonder how long those wet nurse goats will produce milk. I think it is as long as there are kids nursing? I did notice Little Grey attempting to sneak a drink from one of the other does. He is becoming more savvy.
This experience – bringing Little Grey home to try to help him gain strength and get over being the runt – has been a real learning curve. I can see why people avoid bottle feeding if possible. He certainly has gained much more weight and height since he’s been nursing directly. I’ve also had to untangle my heart strings. I will not deny that it has been heartwarming to feel such a bond with him. But it carries a price. The mother goats are with their kids for a few months before they either go off to another farm or become another adult in the herd. Our human hearts are not programmed that way. I find myself tugged to consider how I could integrate him into our home. However, even my best midnight plans don’t pass muster in the light of day. We are a small property and my donkeys love to run like the wind and play rough. A little goat like Grey would not stand a chance. Sectioning off the paddock just doesn’t provide the space and stimulation a goat would need. So each day I work at getting a little closer to focusing my energy on wishing for a great home for him to open up this summer. They will certainly be adopting a people friendly little guy!
This does not mean I am not cut out to be helping at a farm. To the contrary. I think it is a good thing to care deeply about the animals in your care. I admire Farmer Cari’s care and attention to her farm critters. Perhaps it will be a little like teaching. Those first few years I think many of us fell in love with the kids in our classes. We knew them in a way we didn’t allow ourselves to reproduce year in and year out. It didn’t mean we cared less. It didn’t mean we did a poorer job. I think we became more prepared for the job of aiming our students at the future. It was more a matter of learning that our job was to help along the way and then let them go. There is a power within that awareness of the next step. I think as I talk with Cari and she shares her memories of her first experiences with young animals she mirrors that type of caring … and the knowledge that she will be passing them along.
Getting to know the new lambs and the new goats … and the old ones too does open those eternal questions about whether to eat meat at all … I’ve been back and forth over that issue over the years. Finding that eating soya products, dark leafy greens, beets, nuts and salmon cause my kidney stones turned me around and had me look again at what my options were going to be. Seeing animals cared for at the Tryon farm makes me thankful that my meat can come from there. That’s where I have settled for now.
Education comes from within; you get it by struggle and effort and thought.