On farms around the world, the rising sun sets the cocks to crowing and the setting sun brings the cows home to be milked. On our farm, shortly after sunrise, I call “Hello, Fellows!”, lift the latch on the chicken coop door, and step back as our chickens stream past me, knowing I’ve laid out some tasty treat for them in the enclosure above. “Cowboy”, our rooster, chuck-chucks and burbles to call the ladies to the feast while I replenish their water and feed, and collect the eggs, some still warm.
Goat song fills the air. They’ve heard me arrive – the clank of buckets and crunching gravel beneath my boots giving me away. They wait for me clustered under the maple tree, chewing their cud, and calling “Meh! Meh!” in their goaty voices. “Meh! Meh!” I say in return.
I hang bundles of ivy, Russian olive, multiflora, or grape vine along the fence for them to browse while I fill their buckets with grain – a little grain – less than their greedy tummies would like, but as much as their tummies should have. They follow me as I carry their grain into the barn: Wooly Bear first, to be led alone into the aisle at the far end of the barn where she can eat in peace in her calm and unhurried way. The goaty gluttons, Spartacus, Orkan, and Alba, stand close by the gate through which Wooly Bear and I have passed -, waiting for theirs, so impatiently, so stealthily, not a “Meh” to be heard, while I pet Wooly Bear and praise her for her delicate and distinctly ungoatlike manners.
I pick up the goaty gluttons’ buckets, slip through the gate, step over the jamb, and suddenly, they erupt in goat dance! They swirl about me, a giddy goat gyre. I step, and they leap, over the barrier between byre and hay mow, they, swirling closer and closer to my knees as I cross the barn floor, I, the eye of the storm of goat dance! They can hardly contain themselves, but they let me fill the trough, and with the buckets in place, peace reigns, and I pause in the stillness to listen to the munching of grain and the swallows’ knife wings beating the air above me.