Beasts in the night

I may have mentioned at some point that I’m not your typical “get up at 5 am” farmer. I’m more likely to still be up at 5 am working on the computer than to be making coffee at that ungodly hour.

Consequently, I sometimes take nighttime strolls in the pasture to check on everyone and just have a quiet nighty-night chat. If you’ve ever attempted to sleep amongst the animals (and I have, when caring for a sick one I didn’t want to leave alone), you’ll discover that not much sleep is had during the night on a farm.

These guys doze a bit, get up and walk around, check to see if new hay has appeared, pee copiously, doze a bit more, get up again, do a tour, wrestle for space in one of the stalls, grunt, groan, fart, and generally disturb the peace.

Therefore, it’s a great time to have talks with the animals about important stuff since they’re not doing much else, anyhow.

Usually I enjoy strolling through the pasture under the moon and the stars, and visiting with the guys one by one, but last night it was extremely overcast. I had been staring into my brightly lit computer monitor for hours, and when I went outside, I was nearly completely blinded. All I could make out were indistinct shapes looming out of the darkness.

I heard a few snorts and a cough (no one owned up to that – word of Fred’s daily injections has gotten out), and as I, too, was swallowed up by the darkness, I began to be just a teeny, tiny bit afraid. Now, I’m not afraid of much anymore. Rats, maybe, and the IRS. But afraid of animals – and my own beloved ootsie cuties? But there I was, unable to see my next step, feeling distinctly unnerved.

For example, what if I stumbled upon a prone Bullwinkle (who would of course raise up with a great thundering and knock me flat or worse, send me flying with those horns of his), or step on a sheep (who would shriek and be traumatized for days afterwards), or, God forbid, run into Mr. Newman Goat.

Mr. Newman has been particularly ill-behaved these last few weeks. I think it’s because he’s been reading too much. The voraciousness with which he’s been consuming books of late is astounding, and he’s ranging from trashy romance novels, to manuals on business writing. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so alarmed if he had a focus. You know, maybe he could stick to some books on agronomy and help me figure out how to solve some of the drainage problems here – make himself useful.

Instead, the other day he invited Rocky (the steer) to come up to the reading room. Rocky found the stairs more than he could manage and he was too tall, anyhow, to fit under the stairwell, so instead he just hung out below waiting for Mr. Newman and deposited 50 or so pounds of manure and several gallons of urine in the tack room, destroying the floorboards. Thanks, Newman.

Newman has also been diversifying his chewing management program. He’s discovered extension cords. Fortunately, he discovered two that were not plugged in. Before the summer starts and we need to run fans in the barn,though, I’m gonna have to get the electrician out to install Newman-proof outlets, and perhaps run wires inside metal tubing. The expense account of this goat is simply mind-blowing.

And he got into my truck again. I’ve got news for you housewives out there — Febreze does NOT work on goat smell. He rummaged through the glove box, extracted my work ID from a client site (I’m telling you, this goat has plans way beyond the simple country bumpkin life), went through my briefcase, ate some of my papers, and threw a tampon on the floor. Now this I find really interesting. For those of you who are not in the know, many tampon brands are wrapped in paper. Yes, that’s right folks, paper. This particular single tampon in question was, in fact, wrapped in paper, and a nice delicate paper, at that. And what do we know about Mr. Newman Goat?

All together now, “He likes to eat paper!”. So why did he eschew a perfectly good tampon wrapper? Geez, this one is too easy. Because he’s a guy. (Ever asked your husband or boyfriend to go to the store ….? )

Some of you might wonder if Newman has any idea of the effect he has on people. At times, I wonder if in fact he is clueless – people arrive and ask to be introduced, and he hangs out way in the back, by the compost pile, acting shy and retiring. Or perversely wanting to watch nicely dressed city folk muck their way through a manure-soaked trail to pay him homage?

We may never know.

Till next time,

Farmer Anne

Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3

A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats