Silence over here usually means one of two things: I have nothing to say (rare), or I am too overwhelmed to write. Lately, it’s the latter since we’ve added the adopted baby goats, the baby goats born on the farm so far, impending goat (and calf!) births, and an upcoming, minor surgery I will undergo next week. Timing is almost always total crap, and this is no exception. Add to an already overstuffed list of responsibilities, the reality that I will be out of commission for a (hopefully) short period of time, in the midst of the most stressful season here. We’ll lean heavily on family and friends over the next few weeks. But that’s nothing new. Community is everything.
Last Tuesday afternoon, Pearlsnaps finally went into labor, three days past her due date. Within a few hours, I was certain something was wrong. My mother had come by to witness a goat birth, and my initially excited mood turned sour with the reality that nothing about this situation would be textbook. Pearl kidded so quickly and easily last year, I took for granted the fact that it might not be the same this time around. Ooops. Several hours in, and I knew we had trouble. Doing what I do best: I called Fran. She talked me through a few options, starting with, “You’ll need to go in and see what you can feel,” a prospect I knew was coming but dreaded down to the core of my little goat-loving soul. With my mother and Jeremy helping to hold Pearl, who became a screaming, panting mess, I was too nervous to be aggressive with the exam. I knew I felt “something,” but wasn’t able to discern anything beyond, “maybe a tail, maybe an ear, maybe a butt.” Not helpful.
I should mention here that, over the past year, a lot of things have happened that make it feel the universe has it out for both of us. Some of this I’ve woven into stories. Lots of it, I haven’t. It’s easy to fall into the gutter of self-doubt and negativity when it seems the only luck you’re dealt is bad, repeatedly, bad. But when I called Fran again on Tuesday night, and in a shaking voice reported that I was out of my realm, watching my sweet goat struggle in the corner of the barn. When she said, without hesitation, “I’m coming over to help.” When she showed up 20 minutes later, calmly scrubbed up, calmly examined the goat, calmly told me what she felt, explained exactly how she was re-arranging a baby inside of Pearl. When she methodically pulled three healthy babies from Pearl only minutes later. That’s when I understood that, when it comes to all the big, important, fundamental stuff – we are so fortunate. Maybe it’s true that luck helps those who help themselves, and I’ve certainly tried to cast a wide net of support since we moved here and started collecting animals. Sometimes I don’t know when to say when, but I do – generally – know when to make a phone call, introduce myself, shake hands, and ask for help. Fran, literally, saved Pearl’s life on Tuesday night. Although we’ve gotten our fair share of sucker punches from the universe this year, I recognize how tremendously lucky I am to have such strong mentors only a phone call, and short drive, away. That’s the kind of good fortune that matters. Everything else is just smoke and noise.
Luckily my mom stuck around to clean all the babies and make sure they were nursing while Fran, Jeremy, and I went inside to clean up and talk about some important aftercare for Pearlsnaps. Mom held Pearl while I inserted a tube into Pearl’s uterus and flushed it with a distilled water and antibiotic solution (Another first. You haven’t lived until you’ve done this.). Then we both came inside, the adrenaline of the evening palpable. The dinner we never ate suddenly perceptible in empty stomachs. It was a terrifyingly good night.
One week later, and Dolly is due at the end of week. I am eying her warily, certain of another potential disaster. I have baby goats to disbud, stalls to clean, a garden to mulch, and goats to deliver before I’m out of commission next week. It feels like “too much,” which is actually just a nebulous concept, a bottomless well, and a state of mind that I will need to negotiate with myself. Repeatedly I have cursed the timing of everything, although the chaos keeps me in line, to a certain extent. And above all else, baby goats are miraculous therapy for all that ails a person. Maybe the timing is perfect.
On September 12, I lost the most beloved animal in my (long) history of animals – Willy Boots. I understood immediately I would never see him again once it was evident he had vanished and that, more brutally, he was stolen for food. Last year when I lost LuLu, the dog I had for nearly 14 years, my aunt sent a note, a reminder that these little souls will always come back some way, in some form – they never completely leave even when they’re gone. I thought about that last March, just after losing Lu, when I discovered Hugo at the pound, a dog whose tiny body barely contains his personality. And I’ve been thinking about that since bringing Dixie home a few weeks ago. She is the little goat from Amelia’s farm, where Jolene and Pearlsnaps – and Willy Boots – all came from. Amelia wrote to me weeks ago with a few pictures of baby goats just born that she thought I might like. One of the babies was a spitting image of Willy Boots. The goat’s mother’s name, coincidentally? Willie.
Dixie has proven to be so similar to Willy Boots, not just in looks, but also in personality, that my mother-in-law keeps accidentally calling her “Willy.” Dixie is determined to jump the highest, spin the fastest, and to become a permanent fixture in my lap. She paws at my legs then flings her body at me with all of her force. I know Willy Boots is gone, and maybe the similarities stem from the fact that Dixie is a distant relation, being from the same farm, but I am tempted to re-name her Willy, Too. Because, that’s actually who she is. It makes me less fearful of whatever is coming, of whatever birth disaster is lurking this week or next. You just never know what fate will deliver, or who might be coming back to you again.