Earlier in the week, conversation with a Homestead dinner guest turned to parenting. This allowed us to dust off a bit of a Homestead standard, often voiced, deeply held belief that the best parenting moments are born not out of carefully considered, researched and coolly implemented procedures, but rather from hair-tearing bouts of sheer desperation.
The same goes for goat tending.
Recently Miss Geraldine just hasn’t been herself. Opinionated at the best of times, since the departure of Leia’s kids, Jack and Jill, she’s been stroppy beyond belief. As this behaviour was most often apparent at milking time, and her offerings were getting less and less while her udder got more and more, we feared mastitis and launched into a protracted bout of To call the vet or not to call the vet, that is the question. The day she jumped clean over The Milk Maid and high-tailed it back to the paddock made the decision for us.
We won’t bore you with the chasing down, doubling back, nifty footwork, rope-burnt hands and colourful bruising involved in securing the patient for her consultation. Suffice to say the only difference between us and the closing credits of Benny Hill was Yakkity Sax…and a few more layers of clothing. The upshot, when the three of us (Steve the vet, The Milk Maid and Goat Herd) once again had breath to converse, was that Geraldine was running a temperature for which he had administered a broad spectrum antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, but it was likely we were staring at a behavioural issue as well. It was time to get tough.
With hearts thumping we gruffly commanded our paddock matriarch to behave. We growled and snapped, we man-handled and grappled…all to no avail. We bribed with extra rations, cups of wheat and dollops of molasses and still she stamped and jumped, showed us her horns and with-held her milk.
Then this morning, in utter desperation and as a final resort, The Milk Maid started singing as she tentatively started the pre-milking ritual.
Well, I heard some people talking just the other day
and they said you were gonna put me on the shelf
Miss G looked up from her breakfast as The Milk Maid settled into milking position. A half-hearted stamp greeted the cleaning procedure before she turned back to the food bowl.
But I’ve got some news for you,
and you’ll soon find out it’s true
A jet of white gold, the first in several days, fizzed into the bucket without incident and The Milk Maid and Goat Herd exchanged disbelieving stares. Spurt-spurt-spu….STAMP!
“Keep singing,” The Goat Herd hissed.
and then you’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself.
and breakfast continues.
Cos I’m aaaaaaaaallllll ready gone
and I’m feeee-eeeeling strong
The Goat Herd started on the harmony as the bucket level rose
I will siiiiinnnng this victory song
we carolled jubilantly, woo hoo hoo-ing with a great deal of joy and crazy, face-splitting smiles.
We’ve never really been huge Eagles fans so Geraldine was subjected to a continuous loop of the first verse, but we did get some pretty tight harmonies going before the bucket was filled.
As we led her back into the paddock we became aware we had an audience.
“What are you doing?” asked Mr Ezekiel from next door; Miss Tigerlily just continued with her unblinking stare.
“Just singing to the goat.”
“Oh,” he said, then turned and wandered back to his side of the fence.
Later on we had another visit from the Ezekiel-Tigerlilys.
“Why were you being silly and singing to Geraldine?” Mr E wanted to know.
Once again The Goat Herd and Milk Maid exchanged glances before answering in perfect union:
“Cos we’re Allllll-ready gone.”
Maybe you had to be there 🙂