THE GIRLS: Lucy - my first goat, purchased in 2000. For a long time, Lucy (The Lady Lucinda of Iron Oak) was Queen (dominant female) of the herd and took her job seriously. She dictated the pecking order and meted out punishment for any infraction of the rules. It was her responsibility to protect the herd, warning of danger with a goat snort, and even kept visitors in their place. Then there was a palace revolt and Lucy was deposed. The herd beat her up and banished her to a far corner for days. You never saw such a dejected animal. I guess they voted for a democracy, as no one has stepped up to the throne. Ruth - 8 weeks old when she came with Lucy. If there is trouble to get into or someplace not to be, Ruth is your girl. She's gotten into so much trouble with the herd, she has to have a room of her own at night...otherwise they snatch her bald. She won't get off the stand in the morning until she gets her butt rubbed. She's still producing milk, but not s'much. Cindy - an earnest little milker. Just inhales her food like she won't ever get another meal. She is usually involved in every quarrel (maybe she starts them). Esther - a rather vain girl. She doesn't breed anymore, probably because it would ruin her figure. She won't start to eat her breakfast until she gets her coat brushed. Inga - shy and timid, Inga's mission in life is to provide milk. I never seem to be able to dry her up, and she continues to produce in volume long after she's been freshened. (Isn't that a great word for impregnated? Puts a whole new slant on, "I think I'll just freshen up now.") Sheila - a 2-year-old doe, and pregnant for the first time. Her baby is due in March. She's lowest on the totem pole and must wait until all the others have eaten, dashing in to grab a bite now and then before being run off...even Poppy gets to dominate Sheila. Tessie - still lives with her littermate, #19. Tessie has just one horn, making her the resident unicorn. She shouldn't have any horns at all, but that's another story for another day. #19 is a wether (neutered male), and boys get numbers, not names, because they are usually sold before they're 2 months old. I found it was easier to let them go if they didn't have a name. #19 is 2 years old...the market for goats fell just after he was born...and so he's still here. #20 went to a barbecue and never came back.
I realize I'm guilty of flagrant anthropomorphization, but when you live with animals day in and day out, they do take on a personality. These girls (and boy) are a big part of my life, and caring for them is a responsibility and a pleasure. They dictate the order of my days, determining when or if I can accept an invitation to dinner. They've kept me here without a vacation for years. They must be tended in winter's rain and snow or summer's heat, whether I feel well or not. There are days when I just don't want to go down to the barn. But...when I force myself on those days to gear up and get out, and on every other day...sitting next to these warm, affectionate, productive girls gives me a tremendous satisfaction that keeps me looking forward to the next batch of kids, and I wouldn't trade that for a trip around the world. (Sorry, Pat.)