Adventures With(out) Goats.

January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Before Christmas, we had the sudden opportunity to house sit for a friend for a week. All the elements sounded fantastic: a mud brick yurt, no electricity, in the bush, and situated in an intentional community.

Sol and I have long been interested in intentional communities. In fact, soon after we became a couple we travelled up the east coast of Australia visiting various communities. We were especially keen to visit this community where our friends live, as we happen to be long time friends with the couple who initiated it some fourty years ago (they are no longer living there).

There was one tiny catch to this great opportunity for a free holiday – well, three catches really, in the form of three goats, who we would be required to feed and in one case, milk.

Now I have no experience whatsoever with goats. I did not worry about this, as Sol is a nature-in-all-its-forms lover, and was relishing the chance to get up close and personal with the goats. I pictured myself lounging around on the wide verandahs, reading and writing, while Sol and the girls frolicked with these happy goats.

A few days before our departure, Sol hurt his foot at work. What we assumed to be a simple strain turned into a fractured foot and a very complicated scenario for him, meaning he couldn’t leave Sydney when we planned to. Suddenly I was driving six hours up the coast with four children, settling into a new place (with no internal toilet), and caring for the goats, all on my own.

It was somewhat of a shock to realise I was afraid. The following thought that this experience would then be good for me didn’t really help. However once I was on the road I felt fine. Excited.

Our destination was beautiful, so beautiful and peaceful and isolated. So far isolated that there was no phone reception. We arrived only an hour before dusk. My friend left detailed instructions for the feeding and milking, but I couldn’t find the equipment I needed at first. I began to panic a little, now that the reality of these goats was standing before me, and panic of course makes things seem harder and take longer.

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I managed to feed the goats  who needed feeding, but where was the milk for the goat that was bottle fed? I had no idea, and let that task go for the first night. Now, to milking. The goat came with me willingly enough. I had to leave the children on the vernadah as by now it was dusk. Robin did not like this and was making a lot of noise. I knew the goat would pick up on my energy so I stroked her and tried to project an air of confidence in what I was doing. The goat would not let me anywhere near her teats.

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I was quite upset by now. I had visions of the goat, udders full to bursting, coming down with a goat version of mastitis, and all my fault because I couldn’t work out how to milk her. I piled the children in the car and drove the six kilometers to the nearest payphone, to get support. When we arrived there I realised I had left my wallet back at the house (another blow), but after a scrounge around in the car I found enough for a local call.  Tried to ring Sol….no answer. Last resort: my mum. She listened to my tearful rant and managed to say ‘So the goat doesn’t get milked tonight!’ before we were cut off.

That one sentence was enough to bring me out of my doomsday hysteria. So the goat wouldn’t be milked that first night. They were all fed, and I would deal with this afresh in the morning.

We returned to our temporary home, I made the children a simple dinner and we piled into bed. Samuel and I discussed the events of the night, and we both agreed that if we didn’t have to take care of the goats then things would be perfect. Between us and without Sol we didn’t really feel qualified to be responsible for them.

moonrise

moonrise

But we were in a beautiful home with a lovely view. When I turned to solar lamp off the moon rose and shone in the windows on to our faces. There we no curtains so we could look out to the distant mountains and see stars. But most of all there was the silence. No hum from the fridge, or any else. Complete, really relaxing, silence. The scuffles of the resident lizard in the roof were comforting, and me and four children all fell asleep together in a happy tangle of limbs.

To be continued…..

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