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June 2004

There is a goat in the barn who has as yet remained un-named. She is a wild thing. A

Toggenburg who had resisted all initial advances to become tame to me and yet who has watched all of my activities in the barn with great interest. The better to be able to bolt, you see, in the off chance that I might come within ten feet of her. She is horned. Had freshened once, before she came here, and had been milked on this farm, briefly, so knows, should she want to remember, something of the milking stand. She is bagging now and growing bigger each day. Yesterday, she escaped, briefly, from the upper level of the barn where she has been put to freshen in relative peace. Amazement of amazements, she allowed herself to be caught, easily at that, and led to the lambing room where she was then subjected to a neat and tidy clipping. She now looks quite nice. Progress. It has a way of approaching but never quite catches up with me. She shall soon need to be milked, and I am loath to wrestle with a horned animal. She came with horns. They were scheduled to be removed this spring, weren't. And now the procedure must wait until fall to avoid the fly season.

The goats have begun to be named, and this young has thing has just become Lettice (pronounced let ice) Bryan. I may even grow to like her. The week old twin bucks shall be

dehorned this week and altered to keep them tame enough to pull a cart. They already are amazingly friendly by nature. They like to be held and fall asleep in my arms. Seth and Sebastian Baldwin, a matching pair. White with a single black stripe half way down their backs, a black and brown stripe on the top of their heads, and faint markings on their ears. At first I thought I could tell them apart, but now I know I can't. With any luck they shall eventually be trained to pull a cart, wearing red leather harnesses. Some of the other goats found their way outside today. They were in the barnyard early this morning when I let the East Friesian Cross Sheep out. The sheep and their lambs seem to be breath a sigh of relief each time I open the gate. No more hay, no more hay, they seem to say. The mother of the chocolate brown triplets took herself off distancing herself far away from the others, Her little family by her side. She found a lovely place beneath a row of apple trees where my flock hasn't been grazing of late, to lie down with them and nibble grass. I bring her a bowl of grain, three times a day and she shall find her way to the brook immediately below her from to drink. Her two little ewe lambs and her great big ram lamb shall stay. They shall be permanent members of the flock. They have not as yet been named. The perfect names have not occurred to me as yet. Anastasia comes to mind. But to find two other names that work well with Anastasia is a problem. Especially since there sire is a son of William Greenleaf. Or is he? In between pen touching paper the name Natalia came to mind and Alexi squeaked in somewhere. Anastasia, Natalia, and Alexi Greenleaf. Perhaps, we shall see. Sometimes it seems as if life on the farm is a long string of lovely moments. Holding Seth and Sebastian as they fall asleep watching the square, blocky, curly fleeced three-day-old ram lamb as he nurses from his captive yearling mother. (I capture, she fights. I win. Sometimes. Inadvertently standing in exactly the right place as the sweet spicy smell of the newly blossoming sweet cicely emanates from the garden and fills the air. Laughing as my dog Samantha catches hornets and bees as they fly against the dining room windows. Hearing the rain on the dining room roof, sun shower, Delaware County. But it is not, or rather, the long string of lovely moments is too often broken. Punctuated sharply by the tragedies and violence that accompanies farm life.

Last evening as I brought Marjorie Llewelyn, Alpine goat, out to be milked,

My thoughts filled with plans to make cheese that night, I saw a gray shadow behind a

stonewall between pasture and cow path. It was a newly shorn black ram, one I'd chosen to live his life out here. He had been killed by a pair of bobcats that a neighbor reported screeching the night before. He was out of my line of vision as I did my daily rounds. I hadn't seen his body.

And so, rather than making a nice little goat cheese, I dealt with a man whose business is predator control. Infrared lights. The blast of a rifle as the bobcat was seen to come back to finish its kill, poking its head through the woven wire fence surrounding the riparian buffer zone around the brook. The rifleman missed, and now I have to consider getting a license to trap any bobcat coming near the barn. I liked that ram. It is never all right for very long. Sometimes it is so good, I can only rejoice in it all. And sometimes it isn't.

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