The Sound. The Fury.
My mother graciously offered to stop by and feed the babies midday yesterday as I sat stupidly in an office, clicking an unused pen against a tabletop, watched strangers shuffle in and out of the break room clutching small foam cups of steaming “coffee” (sorry, Maxwell House, you just don’t count). Dolly was due today but showed no signs of anything coming at yesterday’s morning feeding, so I was rocked from my midday reverie with a breathless phone call from Mom.
Mom: “Dolly had her babies.”
Me: (snort) “Ummm. No she didn’t.”
Mom: “I am looking at her babies right now.”
Me: “What? No. Wait. What? No. What are they? What color are they? Wait. No, she didn’t.”
Mom: (laughing) “Yes, she did! Two girls! I’m looking right at them!” (A rooster crows. A dog barks. Sound of goats bleating.)
Me: “What? What? No.”
You could loop that conversation for about 10 minutes and have a solid sense of my level of shock. Dolly, lowest goat on the goat totem pole, was head butted in her belly for all 5 months of her pregnancy. Of all the impending births, I dreaded hers the most, imagined babies twisted, bruised, dented in their noggins, or worse – dead. To learn that Dolly delivered them quietly, unassisted – two perfect girls? That’s not how my luck’s been running. I managed to sprint from work after sputtering out the situation to my boss who rolled her eyes and waved me away, “Go, just go home.” On the drive towards home I realized I had actually shouted “blood” and “placenta” somewhere near the receptionist’s desk at work – a woman who may forever be scarred by my histrionics.
I arrived home, and the short version of what ensued is this: Dolly’s babies are perfect although she immediately rejected the dark girl, favoring the red roan baby, a miniaturized version of Dolly herself. She refused to nurse either one, and is not producing much milk just yet. Luckily the babies took to a bottle easily and both may have earned themselves a spot at the farm. We’ll see.
I have milked Dolly twice. Both events were – well – eventful. This morning she screamed with such fury that Jeremy came out to the barn to see what was being killed. “Nothing. I’m just milking a goat who doesn’t want to be milked.” Deafened by Dolly, covered in the distinctive stickiness of spilled colostrum, my shoes padded in a thick layer of chicken shit and hay, I tromped back inside to get ready for another day in the office. On the drive in, I answered phone calls from staff about work-related issues. Dolly’s screeching still rang shrill in my ears, and I ran through a mental tally of chores to be completed after work, supplies to purchase, loose ends that need tying. “Jenna? Jenna, are you still there?” said the person on the other end of the phone relaying work-related chatter. “Barely,” I mumbled back, realizing I’d only caught two sentences of her paragraphs’ worth of conversation.
Two more months, they’ve got me for two more months, and my focus is split in jagged lines between this phase and the next. This afternoon I glanced down and noticed a dried glob of chicken shit and hay sticking off the bottom of my boot, the sort of thing I used to be mindful of scraping off at the front door of my office building. But there’s no point trying to keep the farm from the job anymore. Pretty soon, it will all be part of the same, big, thing.