We set a new record yesterday, Sheila and I. Nine full laps around the perimeter of the pen and three or four short ones around the barn. The day that I can't out-stubborn a goat is the day I'll turn in my badge. These are not speed races; we walk at a comfortable pace, she staying just out of reach. Teasing, Sheila will pause to scratch her ear or grab a mouthful of grass. Just as I close in, rope in hand, she moves off again. "Psych!" (Sheila has a mean streak.) Following that swollen udder up and down the slopes, I explained to her that many useful items are made of goat skin and, trust me, I was ready to tan her hide. Having worked up a good appetite for breakfast, she finally stopped at the barn door and I was able to finish my morning chores.
It was a semi-sunny day and Bess stayed out when I came back to the house. Stepping out to put the strained milk in the deck fridge, I saw the darnedest sight. A tribe of fifteen or so turkeys was under the oak scarfing up birdseed, and Bessie walked straight through their midst, headed toward the woods. Eight of the big birds (they're bigger than Bess) broke off and trailed after my dog. For a minute I was afraid they were going to attack, but no, they were just going for a walk with her. They followed as she tracked back and forth and finally came back up the hill. Bessie Anne has become The Turkey Whisperer.
Flushed with the success of getting Sheila into the barn in the morning, I had decided to move her and Poppy into the other stall at night even if Poppy objected. It was raining lightly as I tucked in the chickens and headed down to the big girls, and I thought it would make the job easier. Poppy and her roommate were first in and I got them headed in the right direction. Suddenly out of nowhere, Cindy was in the stall too. The gate hadn't latched fully and I was under siege. Cindy scared Poppy. Poppy ran out. Sheila fought Cindy. Tessie came in. I chased Poppy. Poppy fought me. Goats were everywhere before I could finally sort them, pushing four outside and Ruth into her stall alone. What had begun so easily had turned into a rout and in the narrow hallways I had to wrestle a large, wet, lanolin-slick, very unwilling sheep into her room. As long as there was food in the dish, Sheila had stayed where she belonged (for a change). The four who had waited outside went willingly into their room and I slammed the door and slogged back up the hill.
Oy, what a day!