To be completely honest, today did start out great. I had a two-hour visit with a reporter from a newspaper who is doing a story on homesteading. It is always fun to walk around the farm, introduce the animals to people, and talk about what I do here. It was a great visit, and I'm looking forward to seeing the story. But then the day went downhill.
I got another email from a potential goat buyer who was being a pain. She called yesterday interested in a buck. I had already responded to her email, sending her a picture and linking to the buck's parents on the website. She asked, "What's your best price on him?" I said I'd have to look on the website, because they're all listed on there. It's $400. She asked if I'd come down, and I said I've never come down on a price. She said she didn't want to pay more then $300-350, which really shocked me because she had also expressed interest in a $600 buck. (Did she think this was half-price day?) I pointed out that the $400 buck's dam has both a one-day and a 305-day milk star and classified "very good," with a score of 88.3, which is less than two points away from excellent. Well, she just raises goats for pets. They don't milk or show.
This afternoon, I received another email from her saying that they are interested in him, but they want to know how much white he has on the other side of his body. Were they seriously going to decide whether or not they wanted him based upon how much white he had? How much white were they looking for? So, I responded honestly -- said I didn't know because I didn't pay that much attention to color. It doesn't put milk in the bucket, and there are no points for color on the scorecard. And I honestly hoped I would never hear from her again.
Then it started to rain. And I was home alone. It's bad enough to have to do chores alone, but rain makes it depressing. So, I headed outside at 5:30, knowing that it would take at least a couple hours, and sundown is around 7-something now. When I went into one stall to give the goats grain, I saw a kid hanging by its neck from a hay feeder. I gasped, "oh, no!" as I ran over there and lifted it out. It was limp. I kept saying, "oh, no!" over and over again as I sat down holding it in my arms. It was still warm, and I briefly thought that maybe it was still alive, just unconscious. I tried to find a heart beat, but there was none. The other goats came up to me, sniffed it, and walked away. I sat there for a long time, thinking that I needed to finish chores outside before the sun went down, but I didn't want to let go of the kid. The other goats kept coming up to me and sniffing the dead kid, and then I remembered a conversation that I had with someone recently where she said she left a dead kid with its mother until it seemed the mother had accepted its death. Somehow it did seem easier to leave the kid in there with her mother and brothers while I finished chores. After I laid her down in the straw and walked away, her brothers laid down next to her just as they had always done.
As I continued working on chores, I knew I would have to milk Viola at some point. She's one of my la manchas -- a big goat, which means she has a lot of milk, and it takes at least twice as long to milk her as it takes to milk a Nigerian. And although her kids are only six weeks old, she's decided she is tired of being a mom, and she keeps jumping fences -- as many as necessary -- to get away from her kids. Yes, this means she has already taught her kids to jump fences also. She just keeps going until they can't follow.
At some point in the middle of all the chores, I felt that annoying pain in my neck that sneaks up on me every now and then. I knew that within a few minutes, I would not be able to turn my head because my neck would be frozen. I've had arthritis in my neck for four years, and I was also diagnosed with two herniated disks a couple years ago, but there are not any good options for dealing with either problem, so I just live with the pain. The day-to-day pain is bad enough, but the pain when my neck goes into a spasm is really horrible. After four years, however, my sub-conscious has at least learned to keep my head completely straight and not even attempt to turn in any direction, because if I do turn my head, it feels like I've just been stabbed in the neck, and the pain shoots into my head.
I don't normally do much of anything when this happens -- I prefer to lay down so that I'm perfectly still -- but no one was home, so I had to finish chores and milk Viola. I decided that the cows would just have to spend the night in the pasture, because they still haven't learned the routine of going into their stall at night, and it usually takes one person leading with alfalfa cubes and one person pushing their back ends to get them into the right stall in the barn. (They don't learn nearly as fast as goats!) So, I figured I'd be asking for trouble if I attempted to get them in the barn by myself when my body is not firing on all cylinders.
I prayed that Viola would be a good girl on the milk stand. Katherine told me she's been naughty lately, trying to kick over the bucket. I find it interesting how some goats respond differently to different people. Thankfully, Viola was as good as ever for me.
When I walked in the house, it was 8:33. I had a glass of carrot juice and some crackers with Mike's cheddar. Then I made myself a cup of willow bark tea for the pain in my neck. It also did a good job of warming me up. When I checked email, there was a long, scathing response from the woman who wanted a cheap, flashy buck, criticizing me for refusing to tell her something as simple as what color he was. Any bit of guilt that I had about not budging on the price disappeared when she said that she was buying a pygmy goat from New York for $550. And it's not like they have goats for their family's milk supply. It finally clicked that money must not be much of an issue if they have fifteen pet goats.
Tomorrow will dawn bright and early for me because Katherine is at a journalism conference, so I have to do most of the goat chores, including milking. We'll have to bury Anne's doeling, which was one of the kids I was planning to keep. Then, I'm going to see the chiropractor and massage therapist. Hopefully they can do something with my neck so that I can at least turn my head again.