It's been a quiet week on the farm. I've been home for 10 days, except for a couple of days early last week when I went up to my mom's. Lisa and I have relaxed a lot and while I don't doubt we needed it, there were a few moments when we got a bit stir crazy. Apparently we like to be busy.
One day from last week illustrates the change of pace. Lisa worked in the greenhouse and I did odds and ends around the farm. We knew there was a hole in the fence where the goats were getting out. It hadn't been a huge cause for alarm. They always come straight to the back yard and stand by the gate until someone let's them back in the barnyard. Nevertheless, most of them are pregnant and a little on the wide side. We had some concerns that a couple of them might get stuck trying to get through or under the fence. So, I went in search of the hole.
Ordinarily, such a search happens an hour before both of us are about to leave for the day. It's a little frantic. When the hole is found, everything within 20 feet of the hole is fair game for blocking it until a couple of hours can be spared to fix it properly. The repair is made and then we dash off to whatever demands our attention next, praying the fix holds and we don't return to find goats in the hen house or garage.
On this day, I headed out to the pasture and noticed that Jai, the miniature dachshund was following me, on the other side of the fence, right into the woods that border the pasture on the south side. Coyotes live in those woods, so it's not a good idea for him to go traipsing around in them. I went out the gate and around the fence to the area where he was now chasing a rogue chicken. The hen was running wildly in circles around and through the trees, doing her best to lose him, but he matched her step for step, paying no attention at all to my calls. I called and called. Nothing. He disappeared for a few minutes and after what seemed like an eternity, reemerged, head high, panting and tail wagging. A tired chicken could be heard squawking in the background. Jai sat down 20 feet away from me and refused to come. I took one step toward him and he started running around again, so I stopped and waited until he was tired of his game and finally came to me. I picked him up and took him to the house.
On my return to the pasture, the goats followed me out. I walked slowly along the fence line and found a spot not far from the barnyard. It's an area where water rushes into a dry creek after it rains. There has been a lot of erosion. The dirt under the fence crumbled away just enough to allow for the goats to get out. A couple of the goats were curious about what I was doing. I stood back to watch what they did around the hole. One pawed at it and started to go under, then turned and saw me and pulled back. I knew then that I had the place they'd been using.
I pulled the fence down, took a thick branch that had fallen to the ground, weaved it through a few sections of the fence and pulled on it until it weighted the fence down and kept it at ground level. Then I put some other debris in front to prevent the goats from breaking my fix. Two or three of the goats hovered around me while I worked, occasionally nudging my arm, an attempt to distract me perhaps or just to beg for a little attention. Goats are curious animals, never satisfied to leave us alone if we're anywhere close.
With nowhere in particular that I had to be after I finished the "repair," I turned my attention to the goats. I sat on the ground and waited for them to come to me to rub their necks and jowls. Several crowded around me, butting others out of the way to get to a position in front of me. I love sitting where I can look them in the eye and see the soulfulness deep inside each animal. It's a treat to spend that kind of time with them, but such moments usually have to be stolen here and there. On this day, I had no concern for the work that was being neglected while I spent time with the animals. It was pure pleasure.
While I was occupied with a few of the younger goats, I looked up to see Teeny Tiny, one of our milk goats, head for the place in the fence where the hole used to be. She stood staring at it for a good while, then pawed at it, trying to get the branches and debris out of the way. Obviously, she's the leader of the break outs. I have suspected as much. Frustrated with my work, she gave up and turned to a broken down round bale of hay. A chunk of the bale rested on the ground, creating a small hill. She climbed on top, ready to challenge any goat who dared to get up there with her. Others grazed nearby, eating dried leaves and the occasional acorn off the ground. I sat back and watched, feeling the warm sun and breeze on my face.