It’s a front page story — “If You Liked Friday’s Weather, Just Wait Until Saturday” — forecasting glorious blue skies and a high of 57 degrees. The first sunny days after spring officially begins, and we’re all manic to spend the day outside. The Bearded One takes an early walk and I start cleaning out the barn.
I do this once a month to keep it from getting parasites. I open up both sides of the goat end of the barn and start raking straw into a pile. It’s peed-on damp in places and full of tiny goat pellet poops, but it really doesn’t smell bad. It’s goaty, which is barn pungent, animal. I breathe it all in deep. It smells like the inside of the truck when we haul hay home. The sun shines through the clear roofing like a cathedral.
Goats like to watch humans work. They stand by, bahhing and mahhhing quietly. They chew their cud like popcorn, hacking up fresh clops periodically, and lying serenely under the cedars in the filtered sunrays.
The Bearded One opens the human end of the barn and begins assembling his tools. He is going to make the goat ramp today, he says.
Goats are very curious and smart and, if not amused, will get into trouble. They will get into trouble even if adequately amused, but the chances of actual escape go down if they live at Goat Disneyland. There’s a basketball in the lower pasture should any goat get the urge to butt it around. There’s Goat Mountain in the center of the upper pasture — a 3 foot hill with a cap of cement. There’s two piles of logs, also in the upper pasture, great for nibbling the bark off and hopping over.
All three goats follow the Bearded One over to the upper pasture area where they watch him chainsaw traction grooves into thick rough cedar planks. They stand back because of the noise, but are still attentive.
I can hear the chainsaw as I dump the trailer full of goat straw into the compost bin down by the hoop house. The sun is angling to the west now, just about as full-on as we get this time of year.
I squint into it, feel the lusciousness warm my entire body, then remember the rain will be back tomorrow and pull the mower out from under the house. It’s an antique push mower you don’t have to hurt yourself starting, and that I can use. It’s good exercise.
The goats take a break from watching the Bearded One and watch me mow. They don’t really love grass, though, which was news to me. They’re browsers like deer, not grazers. Still, they’d eventually scour our lawn like an SOS pad if no real food was around.
The sun is behind the trees as I transplant the 5 week old broccoli and cabbage seedlings taken from the kids’ room closet and its fluorescent lights and out to the hoop house. Some of the starts are a little leggy — but not the kite strings of previous years without the lights. It’s time to move them out, though. I put fish fertilizer on them and they smell, and it’s light out for 13 hours now, even if it isn’t warm. It gets warm a lot inside the hoop house. Any direct sun will do it.
Finally, the Bearded One calls me up to see the finished ramp structure. I see a 2-3 foot stump and a neighboring 1 foot tall stump connected with cedar planks. A pole in the middle extends up with a plastic tray full of cracked corn attached at the top, maybe 5 feet high.
The Bearded One emerges from the barn shaking the cracked corn can and the goats stampede over to him. He sprinkles corn on the planks, clearly showing the path the goats should follow.
But they don’t climb it at all. They nibble the corn off. Pearl walks underneath the longer ramp and scratches her back. Sage gets up on his hind legs and simply knocks the tray over. The Bearded One is clearly not amused just yet.
“They love it!” I say, but the Bearded One wants them to climb on it.
Back at the house, I’m putting our sandwich dinner on the table when I see out the window what appears to be elevated goats. “I can see their feet,” I say and the Bearded One rushes in from the TV in the den to the front windows. Sure enough, they’ve figured it out.
“Sage is standing on the plank!” says the Bearded One. “And now LaLa! Look at that!”
I laugh, too, as I make out the movements in the distance and dimming light. There is furious activity, a goat rodeo. We are all fully amused.