On thankless tasks

Perdita and Puck joined the herd at 8:40 Friday night

They say that 95% of goat births are uneventful.  My percentages stand at 80%…Sabine’s birth was not fun at all.  Less than two weeks after that fraught event, Cricket calmed the waters by delivering these twins.  As a goat midwife, my job should simply be to wipe their faces, dry their bodies, trim their umbilici and back off to let the mother do the work.  And in so doing Friday, we stood witness to the nonevent, the simple wonderment that is animal husbandry.

2012 is the year of the white goat, apparently.  All our other goats are either chamoisee (brown w/ black legs) or sundgau (black with brown legs).

So the weekend may have started with a bang, but the rest of it felt like I was stuck in a thankless-task loop.  Another round of weeding of invasives like bindweed and bamboo grass, another grubbing with the spade to uproot the deep roots of dock, another wheelbarrowload of straw mulch to cover the potatoes and strawberries, and an assortment of other icky tasks left me feeling fairly done in come Sunday night.

I have to tell myself it’s all of a piece.  You may want to compartmentalize, but gardening, like most worthwhile things, has its fun and unfun tasks.  The overall picture is the one you’re aiming for.  A big harvest requires I grub out that bindweed, like having a baby requires I change a diaper or two (or two thousand).

But then I look around and see the fruits of my labors (the full milk pail, the delectable harvests, the funny and accomplished child) and I really don’t mind the thanklessness of it all.

10 responses to “On thankless tasks

  1. It is certainly exhausting at times. However, the rewards are countless. Great work!

  2. Leaping goat babies seems like a reasonable form of recompense, but more, a life you’ve made according to your own desires. You’re really saying that it’s a hell of a lot of work sometimes (most times?), but I reckon you knew that…. My statistics on goat birth eventfulness vary somewhat from yours (pffff, I know zippy-doo about goat birthing). I’ll be much less flip and cavalier about these things when we’ve been here a while (and will come crawling for forgiveness). Lovely photos, and I hope you’re feeling more appreciated. Y’r pal~ Brett

  3. Ha. It must be in the air. While I have a much less involved farm than you, I have a post in a similar vein percolating. Nice goatlings. . . Hang in there.

  4. Your new babes are gorgeous (the garden’s looking great too)! I feel your pain, but on the upside(?), it’ll be December again before you know it.

  5. Weeding is my stress relief. Nothing like laying waste to a bunch of weeds to work out the little annoyances of life.

  6. Nothing like whipping out the iPod and listening to a good book on tape while picking weeds. Works muscles I forgot I had. Great looking garden, and those baby goats are darling!

  7. My kind of garden layout- full & efficient use of space but not over crowded

  8. Hello, I read in one of your past posts that your first milking goat was challenging to milk. Any tips? I am new to milking and have one goat that is amazing with those hind legs. I would really love to be able to milk her, but it is soooo challenging! If and when you have time, I would love some new ideas. Thank you!

  9. Hi Heather; thanks! Yeah sometimes I wonder, but knowing myself I would probably fill my time with SOMETHING exhausting even if I wasn’t where I am now.

    Brett, hah. I always wonder when statistics are thrown about “They say…” style. Harrumph. Anyway owning a house in the country as you are probably finding means you’ll never run out of things to do, so you may soon be just as exhausted as me!

    Thanks, Stef. Does four kids equal 4x the effort as one, or do you get some kind of built-in bonus like I do with 3 milking goats? Somehow things don’t take as long as it does with one. Maybe I am imagining it though.

    Cheryl, hah! But then my gardens don’t ever truly wind down, even in December…

    Karen, indeed. It feels really good yanking them out of the ground!

    What a good idea, SimpleP. I am usually a silence-is-golden gardener but that was before my neighbor adopted a particularly yappy dog. Damned dog always seems to be outside when I am, and my garden is 500′ away! Now if I could find my earbuds…

    Cohutt, not overcrowded YET. heh.

    Hiya Sarah. Every goat has her issues on the milkstand, I am finding. From what I have been told, though, they’ve got nothing on cows as far as milk parlor manners…but that’s not helping you. Sometimes the goats’ annoyance is due to the fact that you cannot milk them out before they’re done with their grain. And as it’s not a good idea to give them too much grain, you’re kind of stuck. So for the one goat who gives me problems, I add other things to her grain mainly so she has something to do: big alfalfa cubes (intended for horses) or pelleted beet greens (flaked work too) and even wheat bran (I get 30# bags of organic stuff for super cheap) is helpful. Remember it’s an intimate relationship you’re going for here. How do you clean her udder? Do you spray or do you wipe her down with warm soapy water with a little bleach thrown in? I use 2 washcloths per goat and this tends to help put them in the right mood. Sprays freak them out (and are cold, brr). Brushing beforehand helps too. Anything to calm her down. But, if she’s really good with her feet, I would recommend a hobble.

  10. Pingback: On thankless tasks – JARDINERO MARBELLA, ESTEPONA,SOTOGRANDE – CONTACTAR: 615494427

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