Monday, May 30, 2016

Scattered Hours

I plodded down the stairs this morning in the early coolness of the day, mentally 
lining up 'things to do.'
As late spring tips into the heat of summer, morning is the best time to go into the garden, to peg out laundry, to make plans for the day.
There are the usual chores that must be done: meals, clean-up, the 'reward' of time at my desk.
I contemplated my on-going genealogy project, thought of selecting fabric for the quilting class I have registered for on Thursday.
Dirty laundry chugging in the washer downstairs, bed made, bathrooms tided.
A knock on the door.
It was Lizzie, wondering if there was more kibble on hand for the Pyrenees dogs.
I picked up my key and walked with her down the lane.
In the washroom of the lower house we wrestled with a 50# bag of dog food scooping it into the covered bins that are kept in the barn. 

 Mary had finished milking and was shepherding the goats toward their enclosure.  I carried milk in to the kitchen fridge and returned to the stable to find Mary on her knees by the old supply cupboard, portable phone in one hand.  
"The kittens are chewing up the phone cord," she announced.
She tugged the cupboard away from the wall, while kittens darted in all directions.
I offered to take the phone to the house, realized I had locked the door and set the key down--somewhere.  Lizzie located the key, I trudged from barn to house and back again.
Mary was still  fretting over the kittens, Lizzie had finished feeding goats.
They are competent young women, working quietly each morning to care for the animals while their owners are away. 

Heading down the drive I noticed evidence of scouring in one of the small goats, knew that I would need to check on her in a few hours.
Washing pegged on the lines, time to make the mid-morning breakfast that Jim prefers.

Glancing out the kitchen window I noted the billy goats were on the wrong side of the gate--again.
Dandelion, the white goat, is a wizard at finding ways to escape the pasture.
Once he is 'out,' Caraway, the spotted goat, sets up a piteous bleating while he decides whether to follow his companion.
Jim has gone around stopping up any gaps he can find in the fence.
Wily Dandelion is able to find more gaps!
Breakfast consumed, potato salad in the fridge to cool. 
Jim has returned the goats to the pasture.
Astonishingly, it is nearly noon!
From that point, the day unraveled.
I read at my desk for a bit, made a cool drink for Jim when he came in from the workshop.
Jim off on an errand and the now familiar 'halloo' of Dandelion the Billy Goat as he crossed 
the back yard.
Irritated, I stomped out, grumbling at the goats.  Caraway rested placidly in the shade of the stable, the gate seemingly in place, while Dandelion strode past me into the bay where Jim parks a tractor.
I rested my hand against the gate, considering what to do.
A hot stab of pain in my forearm, the whir of a wasp.
I yelped, located another wasp peering from a hole in the lower bar of the gate.
I felt a compelling need to sit on the ground and wail; instead I ran to the house for calamine lotion and an aerosol bug bomb.
I located a lead rope, hooked it into Dandelion's collar. 
He lumbered along pleasantly enough.
At the bend in the lane a large black snake whipped across the gravel.
I found I didn't have energy to waste in screaming.
Caraway, not wanting to be left behind, plodded down the lane inside the fence.
I turned Dandelion into the pasture at the lower gate, hoping he would stay there long enough for me to think how best to deal with him.
[He didn't!]
A check on the young goats to discover that four of them were now presenting scours.
Back home to anxiously contact the owner family for advice.
I fed the cats their 'tea', rinsed the tin and carried it to the rubbish bin in the washroom--in time to watch Dandelion come round the back of the barn and down over the retaining wall.
Aha!  So that's where he's been getting out! 
I stomped toward him.
'You blardy, useless goat!' I bellowed.
He stared at me--and belched loudly.
I realized that I was completely out of patience with his goatly shenanigans. 
I also realized the lead ropes were all in the goat barn--down the lane.
I huffed down the lane, collected the leads, started back up to find that Dandelion was strolling into my garden.
Furious, I stormed up to him, clipped on the lead and began towing him as fast as I could go without breaking into a run. 
He protested, snorting and blowing.
Halfway down the lane he dropped to his knees.
I hauled him up, tugged on the lead. A few more yards and he balked again.
Dandelion out-weighs me by a good bit, but I daresay I can match him in stubborness.
I got him into the barn, into the stall, went back for Caraway.
True to form, Caraway had trotted down to the lower gate--I had only to clip on the lead and coax him up the drive. 
The baby goats were to have a gatorade/water mix instead of their evening milk.
They didn't relish it, but most of it went down.
I put hay in the rack, leaned against the gate, patting the bony small heads thrust up for attention.

It should be a simple job--a few days of helping to tend these animals.
Jim has pitched in, assisting with the evening feeding, corralling the billys.
I had time one evening to brush and clip Munchkin-dog, removing matted clumps of winter hair.
I've enjoyed the greetings of the does each time I walk down the lane.

Today concerns for the baby goats, frustrations with the escaping billies, a sense of my own incompetence, of hours wasted.
Sitting here at a few minutes til midnight, I attempt to gather calm and courage for tomorrow.
I have confined the billy goats to their quarters in the barn.
I have implemented the changes in feeding which will hopefully put the little goats right.
I can't replace the scattered hours of this day.
Tomorrow?  There are a few hours until I must tackle tomorrow!


  1. Oh gosh, those goats have you on the run all right! Animals can be SO cunning when they have an escape plan : ) At least you have seen where he is getting out now and hopefully can block it off. I had to smile at Dandelion going on strike and kneeling down on the drive. I bet the air was blue then . . .

    I love your new header photo - your garden is so pretty.

    Fingers crossed that the goatlings stop scouring soon, and well done for noticing and taking prompt advice/action. I think I could have done with some of that gatorade medicine last week!!!

    1. Jennie; A day or two that have me 'feeling my age!' Do we expect animals to 'reason' as we do? I've wondered if the previously well behaved billy goats are 'acting out' because their owners are away. J. says they are just 'being goats!'
      In retropspect the old lady towing goat episode has its humor--two bad someone wasn't filming!
      Gatorade is a rather standard human remedy to restore electrolytes and settle rumbling innards--available in several garish colors.
      I'm taking endless photos of that corner of the garden--the prettiest and tidiest!

  2. It was certainly an interesting day if nothing else:) Your adventures with the enterprising Dandelion made me laugh:) Hope the wasp sting isn't too painful and that you aren't allergic.

    1. Rowan; Dandelion is indeed a forceful personality! It was a day of 'interesting' episodes, for sure. This wasp sting wasn't as lastingly painful as some I've had. I'm not allergic.

  3. What a long, busy, frustrating day you had. I hope today is a much better one.

    I had to look up scours in goats, and hopefully the new drink will fix them up. Taking care of someone else's animals is stressful!

    Love, hugs and prayers for you dear Sharon ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Today is, thus far, much calmer. [I mustn't 'jinx' it by speaking too soon!]
      I'm wanting to be a good care-giver, but a bit clumsy at times with my part of the chores.

  4. Things seem to connive to keep us from what we want to do. Your neighbors need to come home and take care of their goats for awhile.

    1. Janet; Several demands collided for our renters who own the goats. B. flew to the other side of the globe to be present for the birth of a grandson, and F. has a series of required meetings out of town.
      I think yesterday's happenings could be described as Murphy's Law--if something can go wrong--it will!

  5. There is a lesson here, never invest in goats! What a to-do and you were very patient with them. Escaping animals are terrible, I had a donkey like that once, used to wander off for a couple of days and then when found we would slowly make our way home.

    1. Thelma; Years ago I several times brought up the idea of keeping goats. Jim, recalling his grandmother's goats, firmly declared that they are difficult to contain.
      I suspect donkeys and goats may share similar character traits.

  6. Sounds like you've been 'drug through a hedge backwards'. It often seems like the plans that you had for the day are subject to the whims of the Universe. It does help to write it all down, I think. I keep a bit of a diary just to jot down what plant is in bloom, how much snow has fallen, when the first tomato ripened, when the American Kestrel chicks fledged, etc. and then out of the blue comes a bit of a rant about something run amuck. As Dorothy Parker used to say "if it isn't one thing it's another".
    It was a nest of ground wasps that spoiled my afternoon.

    1. Mundi; I expect I can be thankful I wasn't 'drug through the hedge' by the billy goat! I was not at all intimidated by him when we were outside--looking at him today looming in his stall I wondered at my boldness in dealing with him.
      I kept a journal [sporadically]for quite a few years. Blogging has replaced the handwritten journal mainly because I can add photos. There is something stabilizing about looking back to see that the earth continues to turn and the seasons roll round with the expected birds, the gardens, the weather.
      I hope you weren't stung by the wasps--but I rather think you are alluding to an attack. Several years ago I unwittingly put my hand into a nest of white-faced hornets who had taken up residence beneath a rose bush. Instant misery!

  7. It really is another world, with those beautiful goats and huggable Dandelion. How well you sketch the scene for your country days.

  8. Kath; 'Huggable' isn't one of the words I've been using to describe Dandelion! I daresay you wrote that with an inner chuckle. I'm learning that in addition to general 'goatliness' each one has its own little quirks.

  9. I understand the worry and stress of caring for others' animals. Can't say I have ever been a goat-sitter, though. Hope today was better.

  10. Deb; Change in feeding corrected the issue with the baby goats--thankfully! I gave up on the billy goats--keeping them fed and watered in the barn.
    I want to do my best with this responsibility, but lacking in practical experience with the ways of goats.

  11. I did read this piece with increasing sympathy Sharon. You did have a day of it! There's me here, bemoaning being stuck indoors week after week, and there's you -probably willing to change place for a day or two, if only to get away from the goats!!

    Leanne x

    1. Leanne; The idea of a day--or an afternoon--with no responsibilities is rather appealing, but that seldom happens without injury or such as the cause, as you well know. If nothing else, I"m slowly realizing that I can't put in the sort of 'day's work' that seemed 'normal' a few years ago!

  12. I dare to say life is never boring at your place! It was bumblebees here this week. Of course they would take up residence down in the very bed that I've planned to "re-do" this year. I stepped in between the one very angry bee and my college age helpers and caught a couple of stings. My first bumblebee stings. No one else was stung, thankfully. Good for Jim to say "no". As a child growing up on my paternal grandfather's farm, I loved the antics of the baby goats who climbed the hay baler machine to the metal roof of the barn. They'd climb to the ridge then slide down almost to the edge, then go back up and slide over and over playing like human children. Guess that's why both categories are called kids.

    1. Barbee; I'm liking the 'picture' of sliding/climbing goats that your words conjure, but I now have a first hand experience of goatly antics. Yes, Jim was wise to discourage my goat keeping notions years ago--he had seen his grandmother's goats in action!
      Bee/hornet stings can be so very painful, and of course dangerous for some. The last time I was stung by a white-faced hornet I was advised to apply a charcoal poultice. That helped with the pain and swelling.
      Life in the country has its perils!

  13. Quite a day, all around. I am reminded of why I decided not to get livestock again when I retired! I hope you have recovered and have found some quiet time again.

  14. Sue; There were several such days, but with the return of one of the goat-owning couple, the livestock issues have been sorted.
    I need to learn 'moderation' in my old age--take on a bit less at a time.