The Animal Whisperer had major wrist and hand surgery involving screws, bones and something the doctor likened to brick mortar 3 days ago. He did everything possible to prepare the farm for his absence…i.e. until he regains use of his right hand.
But, one can’t clean the undetermined future’s worth of goat poop, chicken poop and bunny poop. One’s wife must do that.
And, one’s wife has made clear that it is thanks to the Animal Whisperer that one’s wife can even make cheese, because he does all the hard work. Wife gets the easy part. Wife just milks.
Well, not now buster. I scoop poop, feed, milk, water, scoop poop, clean, and scoop more poop.
Three noticeable things have happened since I was left, unfortunately, in charge.
1. It stinks. Yes, the barn and the surrounding area STINK. Never before have I gone down on a beautiful evening and been confronted by such a stench. When the Animal Whisperer is in charge, it doesn’t stink.
OK, so that’s relative. Barns always have a barn smell, which some might say stinks, but this is really an offensive stench. Apparently I don’t clean as well.
2. Starvation. Around 6 this evening, as I was preparing to go milk, the goats were audibly bleating from the other side of the barn and the Animal Whisperer said,
AW: “They must be hungry.”
Me: “I fed them this morning.”
AM: “How much”
Me: “2 flakes” [of alfalfa]
AM: “Ya, but how much? A flake can be this thick or THIS thick, depends on what you pull off.” [the bale]
Me: “This thick.” (showing 2 inches)
AM: “Ya, they eat a lot.” (i.e. they need way more than that)
Remember, he had surgery. He hadn’t been down to the barn today. He just knew.
I, on the other hand, would never have just known.
So, I arrive to three anxiously awaiting goats. I grab three more flakes of alfalfa and put them in the tractor tire feeder. I avoid getting my fingertips bit off by a starving goat even before I release the alfalfa. All three jumped straight on top of the food and devoured.
Oops. I guess they were hungry. Starving. Famished.
3. Goat Emergency. I generously let the goats, chickens and one bunny into the (fully fenced) garden yesterday for their first taste of the now frost killed garden. They couldn’t get over their excitement, so I left them there while I ran a couple of errands. It was a nice, sunny, warm day. (That part is important.) The gate to the garden connects to the goat pen, so there was easy access to the watering trough. (This part is also important.)
Home from my errands and standing at the kitchen sink I see through the window that Lucy appeared to be stuck in the corner of the garden. A number of things ran through my mind.
A: She got her collar stuck on something and she can’t move.
B: She’s hot and has found the two leaves worth of shade in the garden (I have already determined goats are not rocket scientists, so, if this is what she is doing, it would be completely understandable why she wouldn’t have stepped the 30 feet to the barn where there is an endless supply of shade.)
C: Something’s wrong with her.
Final Answer: C.
She is short of breath, panting like a dog, looking at me with bugged out eyes and following me up the fence line until I get in the goat pen. I grab her, lead her to water, she won’t drink. I lead her into the barn. She makes a pathetic bbbbllllllllllaaaaa noise. She looks fat. I’ve heard of Bloat and I’m sure she has it. It can kill a goat.
OK. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. No animals are allowed to get sick under MY watch.
I sprint up to the house and order the Animal Whisperer to google “what’s wrong when a goat is panting.” Recalling his right hand’s useless state of affairs, I yank the computer out of his lap and begin rapid research. My mind is blazing with who I can call for help, what I can do.
6-year-old and the Animal Whisperer get out the door and down to the barn as fast as is possible when one-handed and on pain medicine.
Google says: She won’t die. She doesn’t have bloat. She’s just hot. Apparently, goats pant when they’re hot.
COULD SOMEONE PLEASE WARN ME NEXT TIME?
I have become less frantic with my new knowledge when the 6-year-old arrives.
In an endearing way that is all his own, he slams his hands on his hips, cocks his hip to one side, squints his eyes and says: “She’s JUST hot mom. There’s NOTHING wrong with her. She’s JUST hot.” (“You idiot” implied.)
Three learning experiences down, at least 29 to go. The goats are already pleading with me to send back their master.
– The Goat Cheese Lady