O.k., a number of you, even those who know Ed and me in person, assumed that the two characters leading the goats in my previous post illustration were the two of us. What I actually had in mind was a procession of nymphs and shepherds. But because I was rushed (I wanted to go spend quality time with the girls), I only drew two people, male and female, so many of you naturally figured that these were portraits, despite major discrepancies in hair color and length, not to mention age.
(There is one portrait in the group: the faun. As Indigo immediately realized, it is an accurate and detailed representation of her husband.)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that the female figures that accompany many of my posts are not self-portraits. For one thing, they don't look much older than high-school sophomores. But they are not unrelated to me, either. They are either projections, or illustrations of the eternally sophomoric part of me, or whatever. Just wanted to make that clear.
Now back to the goats. There is nothing like a couple of ruminants to make a place feel like a farm. A tiny farm, in this case. Blossom and Alsiki are smaller (though heavier) than Charlemagne, the rooster. And they are forever freaking him out, not to mention his wives, by leaping uninvited into his quarters.
When we built the coop, Ed cut a chicken-sized trapdoor into the wall. Since the floor of the coop is about three feet off the ground, he also made a ramp with slats so the chickens could waddle comfortably into the yard. No sooner did B and A see that ramp than they ran up it and into the chicken room, upsetting a red hen who was concentrating on laying an egg. I quickly ushered the goats out—not hard to do, since they follow me like puppies—and called for help.
“We have a terrible problem,” I said when Ed came out, all bundled up against the cold. “I can't keep the goats out of the chicken house.”
Ed looked around, thought for a minute, then said “Just take away the ramp,” and went back inside.
With the ramp gone, the chickens were reluctant to go out, which I wanted them to do because the sun was shining and I am a big believer in the health-giving powers of sunshine. I scattered a handful of sunflower seeds on the ground and pretty soon Charlemagne leaped out onto the snow and called the hens to the feast. Whether they would be able to leap back into the coop was another matter, but at least B and A were staying away.
This evening at sunset I went out to put everybody to bed. I was in the chicken room gathering the single (due to goat-induced stress) egg and saying my good nights to the roosting hens when B and A were suddenly with us. They had leaped straight in through the trap door, without a ramp!
I took the goats back to their room, apologized to Charlemagne and Co., and closed the trap door safely against foxes, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, bears, and the mythical catamounts that are said to haunt the Vermont hills. In the goat room, I served up molasses-sweetened grain to B and A. I returned Alsiki's kisses and discovered that Blossom, the shy one, will stand still forever if you rub her belly. They are eating well and looking bright. I made a quick exit, before they could push out the door behind me.
The chicken coop dilemma is not solved. We will have to outsmart B and A somehow. Like teenagers, they have all the time and energy in the world to figure out how to get their way. But we'll work it out somehow. There's nothing like a couple of goats to make a farm feel like home.