And last weekend was the High Holydays. Beatrice and Ramona were perfect specimens of goathood.
My “baby” Ramona.
Everyone shorn! May be the earliest we’ve ever finished all the spring chores.
Like Pete Townshend/Roger Daltry: Who’s Left
Columbia, Zowie, Ramona, Beatrice, & Janet, from left to right
Like they’re posing for an album cover.
We got Florestan as a kid in 2011 from Grandview Farm in Washington, VT. They were getting out of angora goats; they’ve since become very successful with Gotland sheep. They had two buck kids for sale. His brother, I recall, had some more reasonable name, like Fern. For whatever reason, we chose Florey.
He grew into a behemoth, as you can see. Sara used to refer to him as “Buster.” He got mean. I blame Xopher for the way he socializes buck kids. 2 out of 3 times we had a long-term buck, twice they turned out mean, and those were times we got the buck as a kid. X “plays” with them and I think he teaches them to challenge us.
So it was just the way he was raised. He was mean, and he hurt us from time to time, but he was only being himself. He wasn’t a bad goat. Just smelly and ugly and mean. And I MISS him, dammit.
4/11/2015 – 12/31/2021
From the day he was born (not the night, but the day)
He was trouble (not Monopoly, but Trouble)
He was the thorn (not the rose, but the thorn)
In his owners’ side (not the back, but the side)
They tried in vain (not in artery, but in vein)
But it never caused him nothing but pain
They weren’t home the day he died
This is a song lyric only lightly edited; don’t think I’m trying to be poetic on my own. Eddie seemed a little slow even from birth. He was double-inbred. We were soon to discover he had problematic hooves. We tried all sorts of things but could not do anything to remedy the situation or make his walking less painful. The following year his sister Zowie was born with the same condition, so we stopped all inbreeding immediately.
He adopted an unusual gait and a habit of going down on his front knees, which gave him arthritis. He was also prone to wounds that wouldn’t heal and becoming disgustingly dirty even for a goat. His problem hooves had to be cared for twice as often as those of normal goats.
In short you can see we had here a child with a disability. It is so hard to know when to end an animal’s suffering. Last winter Eddie developed some problems getting up on his own, and I started voting to put him down; but it was a winter thing, and he went on to have a good summer. Unfortunately, it didn’t take very many cold winter days this year before he had had enough. And unfortunately, the going-down-and-not-getting up came on suddenly, severely, and while we were away. Keep goats long enough and eventually everything happens, including the worst – having your goat-sitter need to be the officiant over an end of life. I’m afraid we’ve permanently traumatized Penny.
My husband deserves to be very proud for how he cared for Eddie all these years. Every three weeks trimming and sanding those hooves, clipping disgusting hair, coming up with ingenious ways to keep bandages on wounds. Troubles are over for both of them.
Who’s a pretty little girl goat? Who’s got a cute little nosey? Who’s always got a mouthful of hay? Whose hair is growing back so fast? Who loves living with mommy and grandma and Uncle Eddie & Aunt Zowie? It’s Baby Ramona!!! “No, no, no, I’m not a baby anymore, I’m a big goat!”
So here is something nice that was said yesterday at my farewell lunch – nicer than all the boilerplate ‘we’re gonna miss you blah blah blah.’ My boss told me that I had inspired him on a personal level, “with all your hobbies – your raising goats, your knitting, your weaving”. When I took a week off for weaving school, people seemed fascinated – not with the weaving, but the idea that you could take time off and, like, just do something you want to do, not involving traveling somewhere. Honestly, people must really have no lives whatsoever, if they think I’m something to look up to. But he said he’d always dreamed of doing something like going to a woodworking school in Vermont, and that I’m inspiring him. That’s cool.
So I haven’t gone on about this yet, but this past weekend was shearing weekend. And we went out Saturday morning, a beautiful day, all gung ho and set to shear as many goats as we could… and Columbia’s face was COVERED in blood. In the barn we found a POOL of blood. She had suffered a grievous horn injury – and not the first time; in February 2020, her other horn had come off right in Xopher’s hand. And horns bleed a LOT.
I almost felt like I wanted to pass out, but Xopher was relatively nonchalant.
The next day he tells me he wants to saw off what’s left of the horn she just injured. It was really long and curly, and we don’t know exactly what happened to her Saturday morning, but having a really long curly horn is just going to be really prone to getting caught on things, knocked around, and injured.
He assures me that horns are only alive for a few inches, and most of the horn that we see on an adult goat is just like hair or fingernail. But I’m totally squeamish – sawing off an already injured horn. Ich! Ugh! But what can I do? I put the whole thing in his hands. I sat there and did my part to hold her down while he sawed away. First he was using an electric rotor saw but it fell and got busted early on, so he had to resort to a manual hacksaw.
I sat there trying to mentally check out as much as possible. And I thought about this passage:
“Most of us treat the problems we encounter as doubly problematic: first because of whatever specific problem we’re facing; and second because we seem to believe, if only subconsciously, that we shouldn’t have problems at all.”
Really how many times do you tell yourself that? Usually it’s in the context of how much money we have, and how “first world” our problems are. We start ticking off all of our blessings, and literally say to ourselves, “Hell I shouldn’t have any problems at all.” But of course we have problems!
So I sat there thinking about how the problem-free life will never happen – certainly not the goat-owning problem-free life. And here holding a goat down while my husband saws off her injured horn – it’s just one more of those problems, those problems that always have been and always will be.
And reader, that helped.
She’s under there somewhere. Shearing time is soon.