Musings at Shady Apple Goats It is hard to believe that it is Fall. The goats are again going through estrus and it won't be long before they are bred and then another season of births and babies and milking is upon us. Milk production slacks off this time of year and the chickens molt and get broody and stop laying. The garden dies back with hints of orange pumpkins and green squash peeking through the overgrowth of late summer weeds that have now taken over. The garden fencing bursts with purple flowering hyacinth bean vines covered with bees and the last of the summer butterflies.
The baby goats have turned a taupe color under their original white coats with hints of black Jade streaking here and there. They are more independent every day though still come running to us for a nuzzle of reassurance that all is right with the world. But they do not need us anymore. They turn quickly away in search of their mother, or fresh alfalfa, or the dried leaves falling from fall peach trees. You love those babies so much your heart could break open but then have to open your arms up and let them grow and go on and go away. My favorite time is always early evening sitting in the barn after the milking and the chores are done in the time between dusk and dark. The goats are quiet then. The press the rough heads up against me and chew cud and ruminate on whatever it is goats ruminate on.
The truth is I ruminate a little too. I think about how much milk is in the fridge and what I will use it for. I plan the cheese to be made this week. I think about the planting of paw paw trees and grape vines and figs. I count up all those bales of green pungent hay and alfalfa and hope we have put up enough to make it through until the first hay is cut again in early summer. As the weather gets cooler I make more goat milk soap and the barn kitchen smells strongly of goat and lavender and rose oil. I hang the garden herbs and flowers to dry in the barn rafters. I stir cajeta over a low flame for hours, the kitchen filling with the comforting smell of warming milk infused with vanilla. I make chocolate chevre tuffles rolled in dark cocoa powder and topped with candied orange zest. Tomatoes cook down on the stove for weeks at a time and all the summer goodness gets packed into jars to open in deep winter.
We plan the garden for next year. We dream of a livestock trailer and fencing and goats grazing in the distance and abundance of friendship and sunshine and health. The comings and goings of our days are centered around milking goats and everything else fits in around this work. It can get hard but the dailiness or the work is comforting and seems to matter is some deep primal way. The cycle of life day after day in our hands . . . literally.