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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Think I Will

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.

4 comments:

Rose said...

I feel your pain! I have found that my perfect number is four goats. Two milkers, one wether, and one replacement doe. Any more than that and chores become very stressful. Sometimes I forget that magic number and find myself with 5 or 6 adult goats. I immediately know what the problem is when chores start to feel like a "chore". Too many. It's hard to let the lovely goats that you raised from babies go, but it's much, much better in the end for you and them.

Anonymous said...

I'm picturing a pair of matching wethers trotting around, replying only to pirate commands! Sometimes you have to really cut down and go back to the size you enjoyed most. Best of luck rehoming the Nubians!

nancy said...

That's one thing I like about having only 3 hens for eggs- I get to know their personalities, preferences and habits.

Danielle Coiro said...

Oh, but don't I know this feeling. This is EXACTLY why I'm having a herd reduction. I adore my goats, but I enjoy them SO much more when I can be friends with them, not just a herder. Not just a milkmaid. A friend. That's why I'm letting go of the Lamancha I just bought ... just too many. I need to take a step back, breathe, and enjoy.

I would suggest a pair of Nigerians ... they are just incredible creatures. Spunky, clever. Oh, SO clever! And so unique, personal. :)