Monday, August 23, 2010

Visiting Goats in Michigan

Over the last couple of years I have become very fond of goats. I was introduced to them in Albuquerque by Susan Main who spent some time last fall at the South Mountain Dairy (“It’s all about the girls!”) helping the two women who own the place with milking, feeding and cheese-making. She has been making regular trips to the goat exhibit at the state fair for years and is a far more advanced goat fancier than I. But I am on my way.

Little did I know that on my trip to Michigan this year I would have another chance to visit some goats. On our way home from the Farmers Market in Montague, we decided to stop by a farm that our friends said had five goats, all female, ranging in age from a couple of months to several years. One of the little ones is bow-legged.

We were welcomed by the three boys Jake, Silas, and Clay who help to tend the goats and by their mom, Jennifer. For a while we chatted over the electrified fence: boys and goats on one side, me on the other. At last the boys invited me into the pen. I was thrilled.

After plying the boys with questions and snapping a few more pictures, we moved across the road to see the chickens and ducks and bought a 5.4 pound chicken ($2 a pound) they had recently slaughtered--Jennifer was in charge of gutting all 25 chickens, an experience she doesn’t want to repeat--and a dozen eggs, four of which were from the ducks ($2 a dozen).

When I returned to Sonoma, a large box was waiting for me on my front stoop. It contained three goats, two big ones and a little one, fashioned, I think, from recycled oil drums. These adorable creatures look out over our freshly planted front yard. Every morning I check in with them. Most folks walking by smile when they spot them lurking in the shadows. Our next door neighbor's dog sniffs them and barks. Children can't quite believe it. It's fun to watch the reactions. So here where it stands: I hang out with the live ones when I can. The rest of the time the faux goats will do very well indeed, bringing pleasure to one and all.

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