“In the silence, I could hear the distinct sound of goats maa-ing in the barn. Lying there listening to them made me smile, too. I'd always loved goats - every one of them different from every other one, and all of them goofy and playful.”
~ Steve Watkins, What Comes After
She has always had goats. I have watched a few births and held many newborn kids in my arms. I have been there for ultrasounds and helped her chase them out of her garden. I can remember standing in her covered carport years ago, waiting for her to get done milking, so we could take our "kids" to the river to swim or to the park to play. I have had my afternoon latte made with that milk, washed my face with beautiful soap she has made from that milk and ate delicious cheese. She has always had goats. It is what she does.
She calls on Saturday to tell me they have five new kids, born during the night, and two more mothers getting ready to give birth. Do I want to bring Cannon over, her grandsons are there? The three of us pile in the car and head over in the rain to see the babies.
At first we all just get caught up in the cuteness, the wagging tails and maa-ing. Everyone is talking at the same time, telling stories of the births and smiling as the babies frolic. Her grandsons sit all snuggled up in the hay, each one holding a baby and Cannon slips right in, eager to hold one of his own. None of us can get enough. And I find myself barely paying attention to her words because I am just trying to capture every moment with my camera.
But soon we all settle in. She sits on her stool with one grandson on her lap and a kid in his, one arm wrapped around each of them and in her other hand she holds her coffee. I can see that she is in her element; her skin is glowing her eyes twinkling and I am struck by her beauty. I listen as she tells the boys about past births, answers questions, talks about names and markings and you can here the love in her voice. I come to understand that just like stories from our ancestors become part of our story, her goats are part of who she is, part of her story, and she is passing those stories down to the next generation. The rain continues to fall outside and I am suddenly overwhelmed by the peacefulness and goodness of everything around me.
Soon she gets up and gets busy; bringing in fresh water and special grain for the mothers. She gathers up dirty towels and talks about the workout her washing machine is getting and how she has to get things ready for the next round and she leaves me with the boys. I sit and watch and listen to their chatter, taking it all in. Soon she is back asking the boys to come help her get the other pen cleaned out so she can move the babies and their mamas there. This will free up the birthing pen for the next delivery. I am surprised at how eager they are to help. I hear one of them say, if we work together we can do it in a couple of trips. I follow them with my camera and wander her yard.
Soon the boys and I are back with the babies as the rain slows down and the sun breaks. Suddenly there is talk of rainbows and what really is at the end of them. Dragons or a pot of gold? They decide that birth is kind of messy and discuss a bit of goat anatomy and then they are off to play in the fort. She comes back inside the pen and we sit there for a few minutes and then we walk back to the house. She has been up all night and might be again, I know we need to leave. I give Cannon the five minute warning and sit with her and her husband at the table for a bit with Gary. She sits with her goat notebook, pondering names, reading her notes and at that moment I love her beyond words.
The three of us pile back into the car, all of us with a bit of hay stuck to our coats and our shoes all mucked up and our souls renewed. Gary says to me on the way home; Does it get any better than that? No, I don't think so, I say. I feel blessed and full of life, I feel renewed and at peace.
Yes, she has always had goats, but it was not until Saturday that I really understood. It was not until I took the time to notice and look beyond the cuteness and playfulness of those babies and grasp the beauty of her caregiving that I understood how this practice of goat keeping has enriched her life so. It was always just what she did and I took it for granted. I understand now how it is has played a part in who she is and how she has lived her life. You can see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice.
Yes, the cycle of birth and even death sometimes, playing out each spring in her goat pen is amazing and helps us grasp the miracle of life, but for many of us it ends there. It ends with those wagging tails and those buckling legs and we walk out of the pen smiling and the magic holds us for a few hours, but then we let it go. But for her it is the other 364 days that must keep her coming back day after day.
I felt such joy sitting there with her in her barn as the rain poured down around us. I felt privileged to be there and share the moment with this next generation of little boys. And every day, I feel extremely blessed to call her my dear friend.
thanks so much for stopping by today,
i hope the day is good to you,