The chainsaw on the backyard hillside stops and within minutes the Bearded One appears on the deck. This post-snow storm clearing project means that we can for the first time see the goats from the house. I watch them and wave to their cute little faces as I clean on this glorious clear sunny, almost spring-like day.
“Wait!” I call to the exhausted Bearded One who has just finished cleaning his boots and is hungry. “I think the barn door is open.”
“I can see it from here,” I say. “Look!”
Sage, the big boy and the most opportunistic of the three, is nosing his way into the human end of the barn, the door clearly swinging open now. Did he open the latch?
The Bearded One sees this and, clean boots or not, trots back up to the barn, closes the barn door, shuts both breezeway gates so that no critters can get into the barn for a while, and then opens the gate leading to the aviary and lower goat pasture. This opens it all up.
The goats and chickens like to hang out together, but the chickens can’t be allowed into the goat barn or they’ll fly up and poop on the goat’s food. And the goats hopefully can’t get into the aviary at all — there are two chicken-only doors, a big one (17″x20″) and a rarely used little one (12″x12″) that seems almost too small for the chickens.
I watch from the window, where the Bearded One can see me, too, and I give him the thumbs up as he heads back down the trail.
All three goats then trot through the opened gate and stand before the aviary, where the chickens are. There’s been lots of change in there this week. No wonder the endlessly curious goats are interested.
I’ve got a candle lit for Steve and Tux, who we boxed up this week, each with nice big air holes, straw bedding, and a flattering portrait photograph taped to the box along with their name and “Banty Rooster, aged 23 weeks, born August, 31, 2011”. Our neighbor Momma Goose picked them up and is taking them with her own rooster to an auction in Enumclaw and I’m wishing them a superb new home, as the Bearded One says, with “babes everywhere.”
It’s been a lot more peaceful since they left. I actually miss their crowing, but I don’t miss their hassling and pecking the hens.
Plus, we had our first egg this week! Two, in fact. Perfect, medium-sized tan eggs, each laid in the corner nest in a shallowed-out cup in the straw. I wonder if the magnificent full moon this week has affected the hens and tricked them into thinking we have more daylight than we do. Anyway, Steve and Tux left just in the nick of time and neither the Bearded One nor I are spotting any real downside.
The Bearded One is back inside from the goats, having cleaned his boots up once again. He confesses that he had in fact left the barn door unlatched. We stand and look out and can see all the farmlet buildings — the hoophouse, the barn and the aviary. One farmlet, woven together by the fleece clops now hanging from every fence on the property.
“WHOA!” shouts the Bearded One, and I see it, too. As we watch, Sage squeezes through the large chicken door of the aviary.
“He’s in!” I say.
We can’t believe our combined four eyes. All three goats squeeze through the large chicken door and are now inside the aviary. Do goats want eggs? LaLa heads for the feeder.
The Bearded One says he’ll open the little chicken door (which he actually made just in case baby goats could get through the big door…). Please keep his sandwich warm, and he is gone. Racing up the hill once again.
I watch the nimble goats belly their way back through the big chicken door at first sight of the Bearded One. He admonishes them and they appear attentive. Then he opens the little chicken door and returns to the house. Grinning, he says, “This lunch break is killing me.”
By now the Bearded One is tired and famished, but still he is riveted with me at the window. He jokes that we might have to get curtains. We watch each goat attempt to get his or her head through the little chicken door. We laugh, as Pearl’s horns are too wide, and then big boy Sage tries, fails, and walks back to LaLa saying It Can’t Be Done.
Then, a miracle. Before our eyes, at a distance of maybe 60 yards, we watch LaLa, whose horns are less flared, but who is nonetheless the second biggest goat and easily 100 pounds, tuck his forelegs along and under his body and, pushing with his hind legs, squeeze through the tiny opening. He’s gone through the eye of the needle. Inside.
“Oh, LaLa!” I shout. We are laughing wildly and exhaustedly.
The Bearded One shakes his head, reaches for his coat, and mutters, “Holy Goat.”