The stroller has a duo-cab, thick rubber all-terrain 10-inch diameter double wheels, and a cup holder. Our new neighbor pushes it and its two precious children through the cedar arches of our front gate and down to the cabbage patch. The little 3-year-old girl has crystal blue eyes and a glittery barrette in her curly blonde hair and I think of her as Goldilocks.
Goldilocks sits directly under her mother with a view of her new 4-week-old brother and sucks her pacifier. She doesn’t get to see much except Baby, who sucks his own pacifier. I’ve heard her outside playing, so I know she has a voice.
The Bearded One and the dad linger at the new deck construction,
and the mom and I stand next to the stroller by the onions gone to seed and the cabbages
and talk about childbirth, the stress of moving, and eating healthier. I can’t keep my eyes off of the glorious Goldilocks, and she never takes her eyes off of her brother.
Then, quick as lightning, Baby loses his pacifier and Goldie crams it back into his mouth. He winces. “Gently!” says the mom.
I bend down and chop a big green cabbage at the ground so there’s a long stem left. I snap off the outer leaves and, “Voila!” I say, “A cabbage balloon!” Goldie watches quietly. She is not impressed. Or the pacifier is really really good. So I lop off the stem, the mom thanks me and tucks the whole thing into a lower back compartment in the SUV stroller and we head up to the goats.
The men follow us up the hill, and I hear the Bearded One telling about how weasels got all of our Cornish Rock meat birds four weeks ago. The new neighbors have chickens, too, they say.
“Would you like to pet a chicken?” I ask Goldilocks. She casts her sea blue eyes upon me and sucks, uninterested.
“She’s been around chickens all her life,” the dad explains.
Still, I go and fetch Leah, our Rhode Island Red and one of our best acts. She is such a beautiful red color and always up for a petting. “Ta-da!” I say, as Leah dutifully crouches down to be picked up, and I pet her like a cat. The dad is smitten, but not Goldie. She turns her head away and studies the inside of the stroller before resting her eyes back on Baby.
The goats are scared to death of strangers and hightailed it across the upper pasture when we first crested the hill.
Now Pearl stands atop Goat Mountain, a four-foot high cement hill the Bearded One made.
The neighbor mom is charmed by the goats, and, behold, Goldie has noticed the goats and is interested!
“They are wild animals,” the mom says to Goldilocks, as she peers around the high padded side of the stroller. All three goats stare back at her.
“Let’s see if we can get one to come over to the fence, though,” I say, and Goldie looks me in the eye — Hop to it.
In the barn we keep a jar of almonds, the most delicious treat to our goats.
I fetch it and shake it and all goats freeze. I walk back outside the fence, stand next to the stroller and shake the jar again. I open the jar and all three tremble with desire.
Sage is the biggest and the leader only because Pearl hasn’t had a baby. Mama goats are supreme, but in our herd it’s Sage, then Pearl a close second, then LaLa comes in last. Sage ventures straight over but stops halfway. Pearl steps off of Goat Mountain, and then stops. LaLa moves laterally, behind a group of cedars, and then zooms in ahead of Sage.
Goldie watches as I hold a nut through the wires.
LaLa’s soft lips quiver around one nut and then another, and then, glory be, Goldilocks cracks a huge “just right” smile out the sides of her pacifier. Her eyes crinkle and I hear a wee little giggle.
“Oh, LaLa!” I say, “You have such big lips!” He nibbles as many more as he can before Sage arrives and plows in for his due share.
It’s getting dark, we say our good-byes, and the new neighbors are almost to the easement, when I decide to give it one more try. “Good-Bye, Goldilocks!” I sing out.
“Bye!” I see a flash of blonde hair as she looks back over the side of the distant stroller.