Battening Down the Hatches

Battening Down the Hatches

Goats hate to have their hooves wet and muddy, so we have stone paths which go from the barn to the llama shed, to their lookout posts and rock and log piles. The rain has muddied these paths, and Ramon cleaned them yesterday morning, spreading thick flakes of straw on squishy muddy areas along the pathways. Of course, the goats immediately inspected it.

I hate to inform them that a huge storm is on the way today and that they probably won’t be using these paths anyway.

Reminds me of a poem that I did some years ago, a poem of this season but of another time when our only goats were pygmies:


Grey day and rain, all night, rain.
I bring aromatic oat hay fragrant from July fields
and the goats wait, fat as potatoes from a week
of waiting. Waiting… for sun. The world is damp and sodden.
I smooth the stiff hair along the spine
of each fat black body, each warm earth body,
hunkered down in the darkened barn,one small window embroidered by spider.

Pungent from a week of confinement,
steamy from body heat and urine,
they nuzzle the fresh straw I bring, then sink deep into it, tucking stocky legs underneath, to ruminate and to wait…

Now I understand why Christ was born somewhere like this,
in our animalness, almond eyes glistening in the dim light,
sturdy bodies full of vitality, gaining substance
from the wait. I understand
why It happens in the longest darkness, in the whisper
of animal breath and the stinging scent of straw
dampened by days of goats waiting out storms.