most folks in the urban core of the city have problems obtaining fresh raw goat milk and free range eggs. how many of the folks in this city are actively looking for those things is another matter. fortunately i happen to volunteer with a public school, and even more fortunate is that this school has goats and chickens to supply my egg and milk needs. in addition to the goats and chickens there are also geese, ducks, rabbits, a horse, bees, a huge garden, and occasional additions to the mix such as pigs and sheep. so why is this all at a public school you ask? well there are any number of reasons that can be named, very few of which are logical. the most commonly told and most believable is that because the school is for teenage mothers, and they are required to do dissection, and the animals usually used in dissection can contain formaldehyde which can cause birth defect to the unborn baby it was deemed a good idea to start raising chickens and rabbits for the purpose of dissection. that doesn’t really explain the bees or the geese or the horse. talk about a slippery slope.
normally sunday night is not my night to milk goats, but i had a friend out of town who asked me to cover for him. i arrive at the school, open up the barn, and start to get ready to milk the goats. when i go out the door of the barn i’m startled to see all three of the goat staring at me. normally they should be in their pen but someone must have left the gate unlocked and they had just been milling about until they saw the barn door open. (i’m suddenly reminded how as a kid if you left your fly down on your pants you would be made aware of this by the statement “barn doors open”) all three are coming toward the barn, so i figure the easiest strategy for catching them would be to just get them in the barn and then take each one back to the pen. apple and annie are well on there way in, i get apple on the milking stand and lock her in, and annie is happily enjoying feed out of the milking stand bucket as well. tabitha is being tabitha and not wanting to come in the barn. i try to tempt her with a bucket of feed, but this just results in annie spazzing out trying to decide which bucket of feed to go for. it’s time to go after tabitha as it’s obvious that she’s not going to be tempted so easily. outside she has me chase her for awhile making me generally look like a fool. while the neighborhood around the school could hardly be called populous, there is a row of houses in plan site of the barnyard, and i imagine the folks watching this fool running around after a goat. after some time i manage to get tabitha in a corner, and grab her. i throw her into the barn, give apple a little more food to keep her quite and take annie to the pen. annie is for the most part a useless inbred goat. i’m not using that as an insult but pointing out a fact. at one point annie had two brothers named breakfast and lunch, and when if was time for them to be taken to the butcher we stole her away and kept her at the house for a few days to keep her from reaching the same demise as the rest of her family. we would keep her out in the chicken coop , but she liked to be around people so whenever we just couldn’t put up with her constant cries we would let her in the house. in the house she would chase the dog and head butt it, head butting a human as well whenever a head was low enough to get a solid crack in. once the time of slaughter was over with we returned her to the school. i now regret this decision, last year annie started milking, but due to her inbred ways her teats are much to small to milk, it was impossible to get even a teaspoon off of her, but we were instructed to try each week. much discussion had been giving to the possibility that annie might better be of use as dinner.
with annie back in the pen i went back to the barn to take car of the other goats. as i approached a loud commotion could be heard from outside, lots of banging and goat cries. I opened the door to find tabitha running around in circles and generally banging into anything in sight. apple was just kind of going nuts in the milking stand. even though she had plenty of feed she wasn’t eating it. i’ve noticed over the last couple weeks that apple really demands that you be with her while she eats, other wise she will stop eating and just cry. this annoying because we are not milking her since she will soon have a kid, but we are giving her some extra feed since she will soon have a kid. now the sensible thing is to give her feed and then go collect eggs or something like that, but since she won’t have any of that, i’m forced to hang out with her while she eats. meanwhile tabitha is going buck-wild, running around in circles and being a nuisance. i get apple out of the milking stand, get tabitha in the milking stand give her some feed and take apple back to the pen. tabitha is pretty happy when i get back, munching away at her feed. i milk her getting about a quart of milk. i’m looking forward to apple giving birth and getting more milk. the quart i’ve been getting from tabitha for the last few months just doesn’t cut it for yogurt or cheese making. i’ve even been thinking of taking such drastic measures as getting one of those cow shares so we can make yogurt and cheese. hopefully it won’t come to that. after milking tabitha i take her back to her pen and then go about the task of collecting eggs. since i milk in the evening i have to take whatever eggs were either not collected in the morning or have been laid since folks collected in the morning. the chickens have been laying pretty well, i’ve been collecting an average of a dozen eggs a night. lots of omelets and fresh egg noodles around our house. they are also pretty darn protective of their clutch, ma usually uses a distraction method of poking a stick into the nesting box, causing them to attack the stick and then goes for the eggs with the other hand. right now on account of the snow it’s hard to find a stick on the ground since they are all covered in white stuff. also on account of the cold weather i’ve been wearing some warm gloves that make me impenetrable to chickens. it’s kind of fun to watch them pecking away with no hope of success. i slip my hand under grabbing a dozen of the largest eggs and give a once over of the barnyard, making sure everyone is put away and has water, and then its time to call it a night.