Monday, June 7, 2010

A Big Goat Party

I’m tired.  Really tired.  But who cares…My kids, of both the human and goat persuasion, are happy. 
Let me describe day one with baby goats.  Theodore (Teddy) and Delilah (Lila) arrive at our home dazed and subdued, wondering one thing:  when do they get to nurse again?  They’re old enough and sturdy enough to wean, but that doesn’t make it easy to leave Mama Ceci and go cold turkey.  They’ve been sipping from the milk bar day and night as long as they’ve been alive. 

Slowly they shake off the car-sickness, wander around their new home (our donkey stable turned enclosed chicken yard) for a few moments, realize mama and that warm elixir are not nearby, and begin to cry.  This goes on all day, non-stop.  We distract them for short periods with lengths of blackberry brambles, or oak and pine cuttings, but mostly, they want mama’s teat and the milk that comes with.  And they will cry until someone brings it to them.
Suddenly I’m thrown back to the weaning days with my own babies,  trying to get something done for the first time in years and all I can hear is my sobbing  one year old, outside with a babysitter who can’t stop the moaning and howling …the special cry, reserved for the immediate and imperative need for mother’s milk. 
What to do about these sorrowful babies?  I start by calling all the neighbors to apologize.  Their responses could have been a tape-recorded message.  “Don’t be ridiculous,” they all said, "This is Indian Valley.  We’re not the least bit concerned with animal noises and if we were, we wouldn't live here.”   So, that was a relief.  But still…the sound, it was  so sad.  It truly seemed we had locked two babies down in the chicken coop for the night.
Teya graduates from 8th Grade in a few days, so that evening Sam and I took her to an end of the year parent-child celebration.  Jens and AJ decided they would go swim at a neighbors then bike home and put themselves to bed.  I only hoped they could fall asleep with all the noise, which only grew louder and more pitiful as evening fell.
Leave it to kids to figure out kids.  By the time I got home at 9pm, AJ and Jens were just  falling asleep in my room.  “Oh, it was a great night,” they reported.  “But we’re in here because we just got the goats down and didn’t want to disturb them as they were falling asleep,” AJ said.  I must have appeared confused.  “We tucked them into bed in my room,” Jens told me, “and we didn’t want to wake them up by going back in there.”
They had arrived home to a crescendo of crying, and being the practical children they are, they got straight to work.  AJ set up the old dog kennel.  Jens put the dog’s spiky collars on Teddy and Delilah and led them up to the house.  Then they sang them lullabies and petted them to sleep until everyone was happy and cozy, sleepy and...quiet.
Okay, I thought, having one of those moments where you the parent think that maybe, in fact, you do know nothing.  Maybe it is okay to have goats sleeping in your daughters' bedroom.  “Well…okay,” I said.  “That...sounds...good.”
All was well until around 3am.  I recall hearing something, but couldn't drag myself out of sleep.  I told myself,  "it must just be the ice machine."  Yeah, yeah, that’s it, the refrigerator’s ice machine making a racket.  I managed to sleep another  hour or so until AJ and I both woke up, realizing that there was a loud party going on.  Make that an unsupervised party.  Make that a big, unsupervised goat party, raging in the girls’ bedroom.  (When I walked in, Delilah was dancing on the top bunk and Teddy was butting himself in the mirror, reminding me very much of a frat guy I knew in college)
I don’t need to go into details, but suffice it to say that the dog kennel was not secure and that I’m doing lots of research on how to remove the smells of farm animals from non-farm settings.
I’m cleaning.  I’m tired.  But now, already on day two, all the kids are happy and playing, and everything is fine.