Goats scratch their backs with their horns. Clops of fleece hang from the tips of Sage’s horns like earrings, and the fleece on his neck is knotting into dreadlocks. He leans heavily into the fencing to rub.
Then he butts Pearl on her butt. She whirls and they both rear up facing each other, then drop down and butt heads. Clack, clack.
They stampede down the chute into the lower pasture, each one’s front hooves moving in tandem which looks a bit like hopping and is adorable. They look to see if we are looking. Sage checks the fence for any new weakness and LaLa squeezes between a stump and the fence.
They dance and hop as they circle each other warily in endless cycles of battle. Their play makes it look like they feel at home now after a month. It’s nice. They tap horns only lightly when they head butt. They ram into the barn planking far harder.
“To get a goat to come to you, carry scratch in your pocket,” says a passing neighbor on the road. Neither the Bearded One nor I know what she’s talking about, but after asking, it turns out scratch is the dried corn we buy at the feed store in 50 pound sacks for $15 and give to the chickens as a treat.
Scratch smells more corny than cornmeal in a box from Albertsons. I’m tempted to grind some scratch in my blender, just like I do my own dried corn, and make cornbread…from scratch. Literally. Why not? Is it just pure corn?
“Too much scratch and they could get hot-bellied, like horses,” our neighbor adds and we nod a good-bye. We talk of the dreaded bloat we’ve heard about. That and lice are typically a goat’s main troubles.
When we mention the possibility of lice to our now-official RN daughter, she reels with horror. “Lice? Omigod. Lice?” She fears that if we even touched an animal with lice, we’d probably have lice, too. We handled them extensively just a month ago, so they don’t seem to have such. The farm they came from was clean. Their owner had no such concerns, and we’ve read that goat lice and people lice are two different things. But still…
Anyway, I cleaned the barn floor this week, hauled all the soiled straw to the compost and sprinkled fresh Diatomaceous Earth on the dirt floor. It has worked in the chicken coop; it can’t hurt here.
Lice and fleas are a chicken’s main troubles. Humans have so many more. Troubles that is. It’s been cloudy and rainy all week, and we see very few smiles on our monthly shopping trip. I’m running out of my canned and dried food supplies, so I buy some jam at the store and it is awful. The first three ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar, and it tasted like it. I throw it away, but save the jar.
Then there was another trash dump on our road this week — the same culprits — and now the Health Department lady is going to start proceedings.
Ruby is scratching her ears a lot. She needs a bath, but our water pressure has been wimpy for weeks and bathing her Golden Retriever locks is impossible. It takes me forever to rinse my own hair. And after we flush, we have to wait eons to get water to wash our hands.
A well needs a pump and a pressure tank to bring water out of the ground and into our faucets, and we have finally faced the fact that our pressure tank is dying. Our current pressure is 18 p.s.i., and it should be 50-60 p.s.i. The metal tank is original to the house, so it’s 21 years old. We call Aquarius Pump Company and Mr. Aquarius is coming with a new one this week. This will cost $1,000. Not chicken scratch, but it must be done. And he sounds like a really nice guy.
I start singing.
When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
Since this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, I just know we’ll all feel better once we can wash our hair properly. I’m starting to scratch.