Archive for November, 2010

A Thanksgiving Daisy


It was a Thanksgiving eve well over nine years ago now, that I would unexpectedly begin to have a great love for a small and unexpected thing. I was just finished with the family meal, all warm and toasty sitting around the table drinking a nice hot cup of coffee (all very nice things considering it was one of those chilly, drizzly, cold nights that no one looks forward to going out into). Then the phone rang. It was a gal I knew, Roberta, who had a dog boarding facility up in the Ojai valley. She did boarding but also took in rescue animals from time to time if the shelter was full, or closed down for the holidays.  She mostly took in dogs and cats, but did have piece of land large enough to have a horse and had been known to keep a few exotics – llamas, a potbelly pig, and as I recall, even a mini donkey at one time.

“I need your help,” she explained after a few moments of greetings. “I had a couple of rescue goats come in here, and I really need to place them out tonight temporarily, until I can find homes for them. You still have goats, right?”
Well yes, I had dairy goats, but I never really made it a point to take in rescue animals into my herd. “Please” she begged me, “there are just two and I think I have someone coming in an hour to take one, it’s just until I can get them placed.”
At that moment in time I was way too relaxed and content from the meal to put up much of a fight and, reluctantly, I was on my way to Ojai. “I have had better ideas than this,” I was thinking to myself, as I went out into the chilly night air and cranked the car heater up all the way. It was not quite raining, just misty enough though to make it hard to see out the windshield and slippery on the road. It was just starting to get comfortably warm in the car by the time I reached my destination, where I had to once again venture out into the chilly night.

The fog and damp was thicker here and the breezeway on the side of Roberta’s house was not well lit, so we picked our way to the backyard by the beam of one very dim flashlight. From inside the kennel, you could hear much raucous barking from what sounded like about 20 different dogs all going crazy. “See”, she said to me, “this is the problem, the dogs won’t stop barking at them and it’s having a bad effect on them.” She shone the flashlight over into the far corner of the open corral and there stood two little masses huddled together, their breath white in the chilly night air.

Pygmy goats, at only about 40 lbs each, are much smaller than the large and elegant dairy animals I owned at that time. My first impression of this breed of goat was that it looked like someone had taken a normal size goat and put it in a trash compactor! Small, cobby and useless. The breed had no redeeming qualities in my opinion. The first doe, all black but for a white muzzle and ears, left the corner and started to come towards us as if maybe we had food or treats of some sort. The other animal, a caramel color, just stood, head down in the corner, and did not even respond to our presence. Her coat stood out on end and was beaded with droplets from the damp fog. This little caramel colored doe, I was told, was afraid to use the little shelter that was provided because of the barking dogs. She had survived a dog attack just a few days earlier and had some extensive damage done to her left back leg. The muscle had been severed, and she was now lame, full of stitches, and still on antibiotics for another week. A project to say the least. Well no wonder the animal was standing there in this state, she had just survived a dog attack, and was now standing in the middle of a kennel full of barking dogs!

That was the moment I made a decision. I had an old doe of my own that had gone lame just a few months before, and could not go off with the herd to the breeder this season. My doe had been lonely and upset for weeks. These two could keep each other company for a month or two until my herd returned. Then she could be placed. My guess was it would be much easier for Roberta to place the friendly little black healthy doe with the other people that were coming later that evening.
Roberta seemed relived at the prospect of my taking the injured animal, and had one of her grown sons scoop up the damp little creature and carry her to my car. The little doe was unceremoniously foisted onto a old blanket on the back seat of my car as Roberta and I discussed the treatment instruction left by the vet on how to treat the leg further, and what the outcome might likely be. By the light of the now fading flashlight, half a bottle of penicillin and a small bag of syringes was transferred into my hands across the hood of my car, along with the paperwork and registration that had followed along with the little goat. I glanced at the long name on the registration certificate, and my eyes picked out the last word in the name- Daisy.
“Ok Daisy”, I said to the damp, silent little lump of a creature now hunkered down on my back seat as I got back into my car, “it’s just you and me and an old dairy goat from here on out – no more barking dogs.”

I only questioned my decision once, as I pulled the despondent little doe off the back seat of my car when we arrived at the farm. She did not seem to react to much of anything, and I wondered how much trauma she may have suffered from her injuries, and if she would always remain this way. There is no lighting in my back pasture, so I carried the little creature through the darkness with only a flashlight and held the beam on her for a few moments in the barn so that she could get her bearings in the thick straw. My alpine doe, who had been tucked down in a warm corner, made a little sound at the newcomer, and they were headed towards each other as I backed back out of the barn and into the night.

First thing the next morning, I headed back out to the barn to see if the two does were getting along and found, to my delight, both animals snuggled up against one another happily chewing their cuds. As I opened up the barn door and they walked past me, I noticed for the first time that they both limped in the same rear leg. It made me smile. From that point on the two were inseparable and made a very funny pair indeed.  It made me laugh out loud the first few times I stopped to watch them. The Alpine, tall, flat boned, sleek and deer-like was the exact opposite of the short, furry, heavy boned, cobby, almost cartoon-like Pygmy. Although both breeds of goats, they were on completely opposite ends of the scale of appearance and both with the same lame gait as they ventured out together around the pasture side by side. I noticed they were never more than a few feet apart from each other from that point on. I often pondered on whether their instant bond was due to the fact that they were both lame in the same leg or the fact that they were each other’s only alternative to solitude, or just the fact that they were both goats despite how very different they were from each other in size, shape, and temperament. Maybe it was all three, but whatever the reasons, this very different pair accepted each other without any condition, and they remained joined together, loyal companions from that night on for many, many years to come.

I know there are some humans who could take a lesson from this as well. Some people need to learn to make a choice to accept the differences of family members, and learn to live with the little diversities caused by the close relationships within family units. This way we are able to survive as a group and be happy together. The best relationships are most often not the ones that bring together perfect matches, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the differences and imperfections of the others, and can admire the others’ good qualities and commonalities. We should revel in our differences instead of letting them put us off of each other. My $.02.

Ok, back to the goats now…..

Daisy’s “temporary placement” with us turned into a lifetime love of this breed, as this tiny goat worked her way into our herd and deeply into a special place in our lives, with her funny looks and silly antics. I did not expect it at the time, but a few years after that first night Daisy arrived, I noticed my flock of big beautiful Alpine dairy goats began to transition down into a short, squatty tribe of Pygmys, as more were added, and this new breed of gregarious little goats wove their magic spell around our hearts one by one. I currently have no Alpine goats at all, just the Pygmys (and a fiber goat, but that is a whole story in itself).

Both my little Daisy and the lame Alpine doe, Kellyann have since gone on to heaven, where I know they are both frolicking together in a big green pasture, with their legs restored from lameness. I miss them both very much and it still makes me stop and smile whenever I think about that first morning I saw them together, limping out of the barn.

So now when I recall things to be thankful for during this time of year, I always like to pause for a minute and remember the night I met this little Thanksgiving Daisy, and that unconditional and transforming love that she brought to this farm in a small and unexpected way.
Thank you Daisy!

The Full Taurus Moon

Full Taurus moon 2010

We are going into the a full Taurus moon- it will actually be exact at 9:28 am Sunday morning the 21st. It is also known as The Hunters Moon. A Taurus moon’s energy is fixed, semi-fruitful, feminine, calm, nurturing, and earthy. The Moon is exalted (very strong) in this sign. Taurus is known as the “farmer’s sign”, because it is associated with precipitation and farmland. It is a good sign when  patience, perseverance, and practicality are needed in a project. Anyone who knows anything about this particular sign can interject the word stubborn in in various places also. The sign of Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, the planet of love and pleasure. In mythology she was the goddess whose dominion is emotions and love. She was said to make life beautiful.
In an astronomical look, Venus is the second planet from the sun (just over some 67 million miles away) and is very close to earth in density, mass and size. It’s orbit is in between us and the sun, and no other planet comes as near to us. This time of year Venus appears in the morning star position, and can be seen on the eastern horizon a few hours before sunrise. It has a faint blue color, and is very bright. If you are still having a hard time finding it, grab your Blackberry (or in my case, grab a friend that has one) and find it’s location on the that cool star map that is on there. After a while you will get to where you can spot it on your own.
With the full moon in this position, is a very good time to plant cabbages and green leafy annuals and trim things back to increase growth.
It is also just a wonderful moon to grab someone you care about, and spend some special time outside just looking up at the sky- *wink* !