Short Story Tuesdays: Goats and Late Mornings

Chirp. Chirp. Maria shifted in her bed as she opened her eyes. Dawn was nearly here; already the birds were wide awake and singing their very best. She blinked a couple of times before she could see the faint light. Their family baled alfalfa till late in the night, they finally laid down to sleep a few minutes after three A.M. I’ll sleep a little longer.

It was well after dawn when an unexpected voice coming from her doorway awoke her.

“Maria! Maria! Can you help me real’ quick? I started sawing off Rachel’s horns . . . there’s blood everywhere . . . she’s bleating loudly out of pain. I can’t hold her and saw the horns off at the same time—come quick!” Mom was out breath, her shaking fingers cramped together, her face resembled a tomato.

“Okay I’ll be right there.” Maria propped herself up by her elbows, while nodding continuously.

In a rush she dressed, slid on her flip flops—they were the nearest things she could see that would cover her bare feet, and ran outside to the goat pen, not thinking to eat breakfast first, even though she had not eaten since six o’clock the previous evening. Maria found the poor goat standing there with her head stuck in the fence, and one horn half off. Blood ran down her face, while the other goats were eating their morning meal,

“Hold her head,” Mom said. Then she started sawing and Rachel, the goat, started bleating louder.

Maria firmly gripped the goat’s head, eagerly waiting for this terrible job to end! There. One horn was off.

“Hoof! Are you tired?” Mom sighed, while she stood up holding the saw in her hand.

“Kind of.” With those words said Maria’s eyesight went black causing her to lose balance. She leaned against the pen hoping to gain her sight back.

“Are you dizzy?” The words flew like the bird did that got startled by her mom’s scared voice.

“Uh huh,” was all she managed to say before she blacked out.

Moments passed before she regained consciousness, although what she saw when she opened her eyes wasn’t too pleasant. She saw her mom opening the faucet and dragging the hose nearer and nearer. Maria glanced around to see she was laying on the ground, with one foot completely bare. Where was her flip-flop?

“Mom, Mom that’s not necessary! I’m up.” Maria held up her shaking hands in protest.

“Oh, you’re up.” Her mom’s words came out slow and quiet as she put the hose down.

Maria’s mom helped her up and offered to walk her to the house. Maria protested, confident she could help finish their task. Her mom didn’t like the idea very much, but wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. Her mom nodded and picked up the saw. Maria grabbed the goat’s head firmly. Waiting, waiting desperately for the job to end. Hearing the goat scream in agony, Maria felt vomit crawl up her throat. Back and forth her mom sawed. Then the horn finally fell, and the goat was free. She no longer bellowed, but looked relieved. Maria understood the goat’s feelings completely.

“Okay Maria, you go eat breakfast and rest a bit. I’ll wash off the blood on the goat. And finish up here.”

Maria didn’t argue. A bowl of cereal and a banana sounded great. Once inside Maria opened the porch screen door to let in the fresh summer air. After she ate her cereal she decided she’d eat the banana on the porch, with a coffee to go with it. She sat down on the white woven bench and scanned over the scene in front of her.

By the barn Mom washed the blood off the goat. In the distance the corn stood, showing a promising crop. Birds curved their feet around the oak branches, singing their summer songs, while the branches waved in the breeze. It turned out to be a beautiful morning after all, once the goat settled down, and began eating. You never know what will come up on a farm, but for all the days ahead, Maria hoped she would never have to do that again!

Baby Goats and Healing Calves 

It’s that time of year. Our goats are having their little ones. Sadly two of them died. They were born in the middle of a very cold night; their mother failed to clean them up, which caused them to freeze. Well one of them froze in the night, the other one lived till 4:00 pm the next day.

Oh! We tried our best to save the little girl! But she caught pneumonia  in the night. Mom mixed up a concoction with her herbs; we fed it to her little by little, several times a day. The little goat fought to survive. I knew she was strong, otherwise she wouldn’t have lasted so long, but she wasn’t strong enough.

Slowly we watched her die in my mom’s hands. My mom gently put her in a wheelbarrow and stepped back. All four of us stood around the wheelbarrow, watching. We’d all seen animals die before–it happens to often on a farm– but that doesn’t mean it’s any less sad.

But life comes and life goes–animal life that is. Human life–human’s soul never dies. But that’s for another story. My brother brought the little one to the back where our dogs wouldn’t find it. And that was it. The chores went on, the animals had to be fed.

I believe the mother goat didn’t take care of her little ones because she was sick. Hopefully next time will be better. Now she’s giving us delicious goat milk. milk doesn’t have a lot of cream, we won’t be able to make a lot of butter from it, but that’s alright, we’ll soon start milking more goats.

Now we have six little goats from other mother goats and they’re healthy little creatures. I say, they are just the cutest! But I’d probably say that about every little creature.

One can’t always save every life, but one can save some of them. Mom also mixed up a concoction for our little calf, which also caught pneumonia and that worked out just fine. A friend of ours said he was surprised the calf lived, but she did.

I’m surprised how calm the calf is. She lets us pet her like she is a pet. I’d like to keep her as a milk cow, but we don’t have a use for her milk. The goats supply plenty. Therefore, she must go back to the heard.

I couldn’t help it . . . I named her Loretta.

She grew up here because her mom didn’t supply enough milk so we fed her goat milk. And that got her going real soon. I think that’s why she’s so calm. She’s use to people.

Well, I’ve gone on long enough about our animals. There’s much more I’d like to write about, but that must wait for another time.

I hope you all enjoyed the simple step into our winter farm life. Have a great week!