I was locking the barn up this evening, feeling tired, stressed, and not thinking of anything in particular other than the fact that I felt tired and stressed.
And then out of nowhere, one little thought settled itself on my shoulders: I missed having a pair of goats. I missed the peacefulness about having a friendly pair. I have ten goats in my barn right now. If you fondle one, then all the rest feel that they must be fondled too, then they start shoving each other so as to get closest to the hand that's doling out the scratches. Shoving turns into head butting, head butting turns into down-and-out fights complete with dramatic yells. Meanwhile I'm getting shoved around and squished by so many bodies circling me like sharks. In the end, that's really what it feels like whenever I go in with the goats these days: I feel like a diver surrounded by sharks. And I have no cage to keep a boundary between me and them like some divers have. I don't give my goats personal attention these days. Come to think of it, I haven't treated them as individuals for over a year now. I look at them as a unit, a single group of stock. There is nothing personal about this situation. It's hard to be personal with a school of sharks. I don't like this fact; don't like that I've drifted like this, and perhaps it's why I've come to enjoy the cows so much. State law says I can only have two cows. That's an easy, personal number to keep track of. I used to only have two dairy goats, and loved it. Then I grew to three, and that was still pretty good. Now I'm at ten and feeling like I missed the last step on the staircase. I'm just sitting in a confused heap wondering what on earth just happened and what's going on now.
I think I've had this niggling thought sitting at the back of my mind for awhile now, but it's taken me this long to figure it out and put it into words. I can do large, impersonal numbers with poultry, with sheep, with hogs... I still really like all those animals, but you don't have near the connection that you have with a dairy animal. With the dairy animals, I need small, small, small numbers. Otherwise I have to distance them just like I have with the goats and they become a unit of milk producing creatures, rather than a group of individuals that I know the quirks and perks of. It's same way with my friends. I can really only handle having a few close friends, otherwise I get overwhelmed and end up withdrawing and getting impersonal. I don't know why I do it, but I've always been that way.
Locking up the barn tonight, feeling tired and stressed, I missed my pair of goats. It used to be that when I felt this way I could sneak into the barn ever so quietly and just enjoy the quiet company of my pair until I felt the stress and fatigue melt away. I had two hands, just right for fondling two goats at the same time. The numbers were small enough that I could keep track of them, and it didn't feel like a deep sea exhibit at the aquarium, but instead something peaceful.
For a long, long time, goats were special creatures to me. I want to go back to that.
I think I will.
With just a pair someday... Just a pair. Not to milk, not to breed, not for meat; just as pets and farm mascots. When all ten of these Nubians are gone, I will look for just a pair.