He’s watching me. I’m brushing Sage (He-Who-Reared-Up-At-Me-Again-This-Week) and the Bearded One keeps coming in and out of the barn, making sure Sage behaves.
I’m so new to this goat gig, I know nothing. I accept the Bearded One’s protector personality and I accept the responsibility of monitoring my own cavalier-tending attitude toward capricious wild animals and I am uber-careful and will not keep brushing Sage after he turns and looks at me. And in exchange the Bearded One will not mention getting rid of Sage again.
Earlier this week, I was brushing our biggest Pygora goat Sage in the upper pasture when he gave me the eyeball and body language that he didn’t like where I was brushing anymore, but I didn’t quit soon enough because he carefully backed up, then stood on his hind legs and challenged me to a whacking of horns. It was affectionate and playful, despite the situation.
Still, among goats, that rearing up is a very short-term prelude to charging ahead and ramming something. Other goats, barn walls, people. They can do it way gently or way hard. I yelled at him to get down, which he did, but the Bearded One saw the whole thing and said, “We might have to get rid of Sage. Gotta put a stop to that.”
I agree that a solution must be found, but I also know that I was more in control of the situation than the Bearded One credits me for. And I was untouched. Still, in a love relationship you take care of yourself at least partly because of and for the other, and my other is concerned. His own mother was rammed hard by her own billy-goat when she was 80.
He keeps checking on us. At least that’s what it seems like he’s doing. There he goes again. Probably making a crate to transport Sage back to Vashon Island, I think.
I’m using the new tail-and-mane brush we bought at the feed store. Sage’s creamy fleece floats above his thick brown guard hairs like foam, and my job is to brush it out so we don’t have to shear him.
Shearing would require buying or renting equipment and restraining the goats, or hiring someone to do it, and since the goats shed their fleece anyway, and since it’s still freezing some nights, we’ve elected to just brush it out. Then wash it and maybe stuff pillows with it. Or learn to card and spin.
We have a good bunch of it this year. We started daily brushings when we saw them rubbing it off on the fencing.
I pull another inch-thick patty size chunk of Sage fleece from the brush tines and add it to the pile. And continue brushing. And pondering my relationship to the goats, how to embrace them without embracing them.
Both the Bearded One and I brush all three goats now, but Pearl is partial to the Bearded One. Sage can’t stand to see Pearl being brushed — he can’t stand to see LaLa brushed either — he charges over and butts them out of the way.
So the Bearded One carries a walking stick with him when he brushes Pearl. He’s never struck Sage with it, he just holds this 5-foot pole in one hand and Sage doesn’t approach. “He respects the stick,” says the Bearded One. Which amazes me, but it works.
Sage’s eyelashes are so lovely and long. I think of him as my buddy and companion.
As I brush, I want to show affection to him like to a dog or cat. Not kissing, though. I haven’t kissed LaLa since I promised I wouldn’t — over a month now. Sage turns and stares at me with his square pupils. That’s enough, he’s saying.
I follow him out of the barn, carrying the pile of feather-soft fleece in a plastic bag to take to the house and clean.
And that’s when I see what the Bearded One’s been doing when I thought he was checking on me.
Setting up to pour concrete as a finishing cap on his latest goat toy, the four-ramped Goat Gig. There’s not much chance of Sage leaving any time soon.