So...yeah. I'm neglecting my blog. But really, it's summer. Who isn't? And besides, I have been very distracted with important things like working at work, working on houses, sending my youngest child off to Europe and milking the goat.
That's right. I said milking the goat.
About a week ago I came home from a particularly bedraggling day at work. I had to go to a lot of properties that ... how shall I say ... have a snowball's chance in Hell of gracing the covers of Better Homes & Gardens. I spent so much time walking through knee-high grass, poison ivy and little snakey playgrounds that, when I finally came home to my own little snakey playground full of knee-high grass and poison ivy, I dedided something drastic would have to be done. I just couldn't take it any more. I got out the weed wacker.
DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM!!!!!!
You don't know my history with lawn equipment. It's not pretty. I have what is kind of like the Midas touch but instead of everything I touch turning to gold, it pretty much truns to crap. At least as far as lawn euipment goes.
No, really. There isn't a piece of lawn euipment we own that I didn't break. The one item that I was doing really well with - a string trimmer on wheels - I finally ran over with the car. And not on purpose, either. So, you kind of see what I mean.
Anyway, I got the weed wacker out and basically drove myself batty for 3 hours until I finally got tired of taking it apart and putting it back together. In that time, I managed to clear about a 5 x 6 foot area.
It was then that I made the fateful proclamation to my hubby. "We're getting a goat."
He was pretty amused by all of this because he's been trying to get me to agree to the whole goat thing for about two years now. All of these tales of "eating the poison ivy" and "clearing the brush" and whatnot won him over quite a while ago. I, on the other hand, never had any desire to get a goat. They always looked a little bit just this side of evil to me. I don't know exactly what it is - probably because, of all the livestock animals, they would be the ones to most remind me of monkeys with their lower lip all sticking out and everything. And I hate monkeys. I hate monkey because they remind me of people and, well, I can't even tell you how much people freak me out.
But I digress.
I don't think my hubby really took me seriously until I piled him, my daughter and her friend into the station wagon and headed off to the farm market. When we got there, we sent the girls on their merry way and went to look at the available goats. It was very disappointing because there were only two there and, wouldn't you know, they were L Mancha goats which have the distinction of not really growing ear flaps. You wanna talk about weird, take a look at this...
See what I mean? There is no way I wanted to look out my window and see an earless goat grazing around my lawn. No siree. We dicided to go walk about the farm market awhile and check back later. As luck would have it, shortly before the auction started, more goats arrived. Goats that had ears. Woopee!
Now, let me pause here a minute and tell you, if you are a meat eater, and you want to remain a meat eater, don't ever go to a livestock auction. At one point, the girls, both vegetarians (before the auction, even) came in to have a look. Unfortunately for them, they happened to come in during the veal calf acution.
I'm not a veal eater to begin with. After this, I will never be a veal eater. Here is a basic summary of the veal calf's thoughts throughout it's little life span...
"Oh, look at me! I'm born! What is this big, wet tongue? Oh, you must be my mother. Hey, wait a minute. Where did my mother go? Oh, look. A truck. I'm going for a ride, I'm going for a ride. Oooh! A big pen full of other little guys just like me! Hey guys, what's up? Hey, wait a minute. They keep taking them out one by one and no one's coming back. Oh boy! My turn! Wow, a whole bunch of people staring at me and one guy talking really fast. Oh! Another ride on a truck! I'm going for a ride, I'm going for a ride! Hey! A big creature in bibs! You must be my new mother. Um...someone forgot me in this shoe box here... Um, hello? Anyone? Oohh...food. Oohh...more food. And more food. Yay! I finally get to come out of the shoe box and..."
And that's pretty much it. Now you are veal.
But the problem here is that they are SO DAMN CUTE with their little cow faces and big, black eyes. The girls eventually left, more committed than ever to remaining vegetarian. And so it goes.
Eventually it was time for the goats. Luckily, we had a wise old farmer dude sitting next to us to clue us in on the finer points of livestock auction bidding. Goats by the head, sheep by the pound.
It was very exciting because it all goes so fast and you really have no idea what is happening until the auctioneer says "Lady, you just bought yourslef that goat" in a tone of voice that may as well have been saying "Lady, do you have any idea what the hell you are doing buying a goat" and all the time you're thinking to yourslef "I think I just bought that goat and what the hell am I doing buying a goat?" And that fast, we had a goat. Now all we had to do was get the goat home. In a station wagon. With two girls. The old farmer dude's last words to me were "Good luck." He had no idea.
I figured we needed something to help in restraining the goat for when she busts through the back window of the car as we wait in traffic so we set about finding a dog collar. Out of the 80 bazillion vendors at this farm market, exactly none sell dog collars. Go figure. So instead, we bought her a sassy little purple bandanna.
We took our receipt and drove around to the back of the auction building to pick up our goat. Very much like a lumber yard or something. All of the loading docks were full so hubby waited in the car while I tried to go score us a pick-up spot. As I waited, I watched a family load a sizeable calf into the back of a blazer. The side window was busted out and repaired with plastic and duct tape. I looked at our little station wagon with all of its windows still intact and wondered to myself if I really gave the weed wacker enough of a chance. Before I could get into the car and tell my hubby to just drive away, the dock guy asked me for my slip.
"One goat" I said, and motioned to my hubby to bring the car over.
I can only imagine what the man was thinking when he came back with our goat to find the back hatch of the wagon open with two teenage girls looking back at him, giddily screaming "A goat! A goat! A goat!", eagerly waiting to tie the little purple bandanna around its neck. I supposed he didn't think too much about it because he uncerimoniously deposited the goat into the wagon and wished me luck.
What do I look like? Some kind of greenhorn? I've dealt with animals. I own a farm for cryin' out loud. Just not one with traditional livestock as of yet. I wanted to tell him "Look, buddy. I've got a farm with 8 head of cats!" Instead, I just got in the car and told my husband "Let's get this goat home before it smashes a window.
Well, we made it home with all windows intact. As a matter of fact, the goat seemed to be quite comfortable in the car. And why not? I'm sure she didn't go cruising around in air-conditioning at her former home.
When we got her home, she set right about the business of eating the weeds. Good goat.
We decided to name her Gyra because we figured - however incorrect we may be- that Gyra is the feminine of Gyro and a goat is pretty close to lamb and Gyra sounds nicer than Mutton. Not that we're going to eat her. I'll eat her right after I eat my lawn mower.
After about 2 days, we noticed she was getting a little big in the udder and hubby said "Maybe she was milking. We're going to have to decide whether we want to milk her or let her dry up."
We. We are, he says.
I don't know about him, but I've never had to milk the lawn mower.
We decide to let him give it a try while I hold her and whaddayaknow we got a bowl full of goat milk. And another one the next day. And the next day. And then all of a sudden, his work schedule shifted and "Anne, you're going to have to milk Gyra today." And the rest, as they say, is how she bacame a goat milker.
You may wonder what we're doing with all of this goat milk. Well, you're not alone there. I'm wondering what we're doing with it all as well because we really don't have the equipment to do this in a very sanitary manner so we could use it for drinking or cheese or something. The only alternative I've found so far is to make soap with it. So, when Christmas time comes around, guess what's going to be under everyone's tree...
Anyway, now she's all settled in and, I have to admit, I've grown pretty fond of her. She's not really all that evil looking and she is very friendly. Very friendly. Like she wants to be around us all the time. So much so that when we go into the house, she walks around looking in the windows until she finds which room we are in and then watches us. Because, you know, goats are herding animals. I did not intend to be part of the herd. I do not like looking over my bowl of Rice Krispies and seeing a goat staring back at me. I do not like walking out on to my front porch to find a goat lazing on my picnic table waiting for someone to follow around the yard. So, you might guess where this is going. And you might guess where we're going. In our station wagon. Because we are farmers, dammit.