Saturday, May 30, 2009

Goat Politics

Two goats are a couple of goats. Three goats are a herd.

I now have a herd of goats. Yesterday we brought a third goat home. She's a milker--that means she's giving milk right now, since she “freshened” (had a baby) a couple of weeks ago. For some reason I love her name: Virginia Slim.

Why, after telling anyone who would listen, that my absolute maximum was two goats, do I now have three?

Blossom and Alsiki, if indeed they are pregnant, won't give birth until October. That meant a months-long wait for milk, and cheese, and the sweet routine of filling the grain dish, getting the goat on the milking stand, washing the udder with warm water it and drying it, leaning my head against her side and hearing the jets of milk ping against the bottom of the pail. Who could postpone such pleasures?

But now I don't have to wait, because Virginia Slim is here. She is small and refined, light-cream with white spots. And right now she's suffering. She's with strange people in a strange place; she misses her baby and her old herd; and she's going through the pangs of adjusting to the new herd.

Yes, Blossom and Alsiki, those two sweetie pies, are giving Virginia Slim a hard time. And I'm finding it very hard to watch.

I know that this is 100% normal goat behavior; that they will eventually work out who stands on what rung on the dominance ladder; that peace will reign again some day. But right now Virginia Slim is being butted and interfered with with every breath she takes. And with every breath, she lets out a pitiful “Maaaa!” that breaks my heart. (My heart healed a bit when I observed that she kept up her bleating even as she chewed mouthfuls of hay.)

The ironic thing is that, though they pester her mercilessly, Virginia Slim cannot bear to be away from Blossom and Alsiki. I took them to the field this evening, keeping Virginia Slim on a leash so she wouldn't take off for parts unknown. Every time I walked her away from the others, say to a particularly appetizing bunch of grass, she pulled me towards Blossom and Alsiki, who, the minute they got within striking distance, struck.

I didn't get my fix of pastoral calm this evening. And Virginia Slim didn't get much grazing done. After I put everybody back in the shed, and massaged and sang to them in hopes they would all relax, and gave them hay and grain and milked the little newcomer, I went into the house and realized that I was exhausted, not physically but emotionally. Goat politics do me in.


  1. You are too funny, I'm going to call you Heidi.
    Maybe Heidilali, it has a ring.

  2. If we come East this summer, I'm definitely coming by to see your farm! Kathleen

  3. Do you have an "old goat house" like in Mama Mia?

  4. My mother smoked Virginia Slims. Hope the little gal settles in soon.

  5. mrb,we'd love to have you. I don't get the Mama Mia it a movie?

    Joya, she's doing a bit better, thanks. I'm milking her three times/day to keep her milk flow stimulated and get her used to the process. Unbelievable that at one time Virginia Slims were regarded as symbolic of women's liberation....

  6. Dona, how I would like to have a boy named Peter, to help with the chores!

  7. Mama Mia is a movie of the stage musical and is so much fun: Meryl Streep and others star in it and it weaves together the ABBA songs very well.

  8. It was kind of nice to meet Virginia Slim BEFORE I got back to reading blogs. And quite wonderful to nuzzle with Blossom and Alsiki. Maybe in a couple of months VS will nuzzle with me too!

  9. This sounds a lot like sibling rivalry when little sister hits about 3 years old...

  10. mrb, I'll have to check it out.

    IB, how could she not? All our other beasts adore you.

    Bridgett, exactly!