Monday, January 25, 2016

You Know You are From a Goat Farm When...

Tallulah & Maury

1. You share your playhouse with goats.

2. You have at least two pairs of muck boots: one dressy and one highly practical.

3. Your “cootie catcher” is actually a “goat kidding forecaster.”  

1 dead kid; 3 live kids; 4 live kids; 1 live
kid; no kids, 2 live kids, 2 dead kids;
3 live kids, 1 dead kid; 4 dead kids.

4. You learn to drive young – very young. 

5. You take your DMV driving test in a Suburban (with towing mirrors, but no trailer -- this time).

6. You are competitive about how much hay you can carry.

Wego (alive and well, thank you)

7. You don’t ask you what is in the crate. (You know it may or may not be alive -- circle of life).

8. You have a dog as a babysitter. 
9. You have your own account at the feed store, where everyone knows you by name and recognizes your voice on the (landline) phone.

Brocco's Old Barn, our favorite

10. You use YouTube to figure out how to perform veterinary procedures, NOT how to put on makeup. Then you buy all your supplies on

11. You keep goats in the kitchen.

12. Your best friend is a goat.

Me & Henry

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Adulting? Just Kidding

Just when you think they're all grown up, they prove to you that they really aren’t.  Children, that is.  Goats just kind of merge into adulthood, like merging onto the interstate.  Why can’t children be that easy? The other day I was reminded all over again that no matter how mature she acts, Katherine is still just a kid.

This time a year ago, Katherine and I bought our very first trailer to tote the goats. I refer you back to my post “Trailering Goats” (June 1, 2015) for the details of my ineptitude and anxiety. As a recap, I was too afraid to drive the Suburban and trailer so I made Katherine do it. We figured it out together in the parking lot of the fairgrounds. We just decided to overlook the fact that Katherine was 15 with no driver’s license or permit. Details, details.
As the year progressed, Katherine wowed me again with her goat-birthing prowess. She has nerves of steel as she plunges her arm into a goat’s uterus and pulls out a baby goat. 

Then she actually GOT her driver’s license and the trailer “training” began in earnest. I hesitate to call it training, because it was a classic case of “blind leading blind,” but we bumbled through somehow.
Throughout the year, she orchestrated more rounds of kiddings, vaccinations, hoof trimmings, castrations, breedings. She did it ALL. I sat back and took pictures and notes.
By November, after scary moments on one-lane roads in the Plumas National Forest, Katherine was driving the trailer all by herself. (I refer you to “Looking Back,” November 20, 2015, for the death-defying details.) By the end of the month she drove the trailer home from a goat show, 4 hours on a dark and rainy night– ALL BY HERSELF.
In December, Katherine bought a goat from a breeder in Arizona and had to figure out a way to go pick him up – 13 hours away.  I kindly demurred, “No road trip for me, thank you.” So she went to Plan B: coerce the older siblings to go with her. 
My kids get along pretty well. Some days better than others, and some combinations better than others. But, on the whole, they seem to like each other. I pray that it stays that way. 
Anyways, Charlie (age 19) and Bella (18) were key to this plan because: 1) at 16, Katherine is way to young to drive that far ALONE, and 2) one of them had to be over 18 to check into a hotel. I think it was #2 that worried me more (I’m nothing if not practical.) Katherine enticed the siblings with promises of a “roadtrip to remember.”
Charlie took some convincing because he thought the trip entailed going to a full-on goat show (3 days of blissful goat-time). When Katherine assured him that it was only to pick up a single goat and then come back, he was more amenable. (She didn’t tell him it was a buck they were picking up until about 6 hours into the drive…)
The three kids loaded a crate in the back of the Suburban and headed south. Every few hundred miles they sent me a selfie of some sort (probably to reassure me that they were alive):

The hotel issue was sticky, as I had suspected (I did not, however, say “I told you so”). The first hotel stopped at refused them because you had to be 21 to get a room. What? I called and talked to the girl myself: clean-cut kids (smile kids!), siblings (check their IDs…no hanky panky here), nice car (big shiny Chevy in the parking lot…) But still no go. She was kind enough to recommend another hotel down the street that would allow an 18-year-old to check in.
They made it home the very next day, goat resting comfortably in his crate, car smelling like a goat cheese factory on a hot day.
ages 5, 4 and 2
Super. I’m so proud of all of them! My babies are growing up. (Even in that baby picture to the right, Katherine may just be more mature than Bella… just sayin.)
Then it happened. Katherine reverted to her natural state: childhood. Without going into the details, Elizabeth (age 12) vomited in Katherine’s car on Christmas Day. Somehow, I ended up cleaning the car (Merry Christmas to me), but the car still had that certain … je ne sais quoi
“Just go get a car wash – the expensive one – and they will scrub the seats and vacuum the floor,” I told her.
You would’ve thought I told her to fly to the moon.
“HOW do I doooo that?” she whined at me.
“Well, drive to the carwash and read the instructions at the pump.”
“HOW?!!” she was getting shrill.
“Pump gas, like so…” (I pantomimed…) “push button that says “YES car wash…” (more gesturing…) “PREMIUM car wash… yes.. print receipt… voila!”
Her eyes were like pie-plates, so big and round. “Then what?!!”
Was I telling some suspense-filled horror story, or what?
“Well, dahling, you drive over to the carwash area and roll down your window (pantomime), smile pleasantly at the attendant (always be polite), and hand him your receipt.”
Jolly Washer 76
“But I can’t line up my tires on the conveyor belt!!” she protested.
“What the hell, Katherine? You can tow a stock trailer with a Suburban, forwards AND backwards, on one-lane roads… I think you can manage.”
“NO I CAN’T!” she screeched at me.
OMG. Could this be the same child that only a few days ago was so “grown-up”?
“Fine, I’ll go with you.” So, I devised a complicated scheme to drive with Katherine to the carwash, while Bella drove to the gym next door, whereupon I would exit the car (after driving THROUGH the wash with Katherine, of course) and meet Bella at the gym.
If I do say so myself, I was pretty impressed with this bit of logistics that satisfied the whiny requirements of TWO teenage girls at the same time.
We made it through the wash, I jumped out, put the tip in the tip bucket, and trotted over to the gym.
I had just barely punched in my time, weight and age on the elliptical machine, when Bella came over and said Katherine was on the phone for me.
“What now?!”
“MOM – I HAVE A FLAT TIRE!” Katherine howled.
For Pete’s sake. “You’re in luck! There is a tire shop DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from the car wash!” I bubbled.
“But Mommmm,… where? How? …”
I think I hung up on her. Honestly, part of having a car is learning how to take care of it and how to deal with the really inconvenient, un-fun aspects of car-ownership. Grown-up stuff. Adulting.
She managed the rest on her own. I’ve talked about self-efficacy and teaching your kids to be independent – here is yet another example of self-efficacy in action. “We are rooting for ya', Katherine! Go team!”
This episode got me thinking: when do we ACTUALLY become adults?  I am certainly not alone in this line of thinking, as an article “When Are You Really an Adult?” came out in The Atlantic just last week (1/5/16). It’s too long to summarize here so I’ll give you the link and an enthusiastic recommendation to go read it:
Then, of course, there is my favorite YouTube video of all time: "I Hate Being a Grown UP," by Jenna Marbles. Beware, this is an “ear worm” for sure and the language is … salty:

But, back to the topic… I polled my children for their opinion:
  • Charlie (19): “I don’t know.” [Read: “I don’t want to even think about it.” sore topic… in denial]
  • Bella (18): “Financially independent... or when you turn 30. Whichever comes first.” (But what happens if, say, at 30, your parents still pay your bills…? We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose.)
  • Katherine (16):"I don't want to think about it." (More denial)
  • Elizabeth (12): “When I start paying my own bills and renting a house. Wait, no, either that or when I turn 22.” (For the record, she did NOT consult with Bella … 22 is ambitious. But, wait, at 22 I was married, renting an apartment and paying my own bills.  Did that mean I was grown up? Then where did my childhood go??!)
  • Robbie (10): “When you have a loan.” (WHAT? I asked the question again, and turns out he said “when you live alone.” But I like “have a loan” better, don’t you?)

(Sorry, I didn’t poll the 4 and 2 year olds…)
When do we stop adulting – going through the motions, pretending that we are more grown up than we really feel, acting more mature than we might be – and actually become Certified Adults?
I don’t know what the answer is. Many days I don’t feel like a grown-up at all even though I have children, have loans, am financially independent, am over 30 and can navigate the carwash. I, for one, and going to muddle along with one foot in each world and enjoy the ride. I'm in no hurry.