Big storms and little goats...
Where we live, everyone is in tune with hurricane season. Our little piece of land has the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean 10 minutes away on the other side. Most of the time the nature here is beautiful. Sometimes though, it can make you tremble.
Hurricane Harvey. We've all been thinking about the devastation to land and people and animals in Texas this week. Mostly, my mind goes to the animals and their caretakers. The shepherds and ranchers and their flocks and herds seem to be foremost on my mind. And the stray dogs and cats - but that's another topic for another post... God bless the animal shelters.
This week, it seems that everyone I know where we live is watching the Atlantic. There's trouble brewing out there and her name is Irma. For some reason, even though this one is far away and we see numerous severe storms and hurricanes come and go, this one feels different. There's a sense of 'uh-oh' that's pervasive around here and has been for a number of days now. It just doesn't feel like this is just another storm.
While we pray is goes out to sea, we look around and take stock. It's time for shepherds to take precaution for the safety of their charges and this storm isn't even expected for about a week yet. You have helpless ones counting on you and your hope is that your best is good enough.
We've had 3 of our sheep at the studio this summer, which is only a few miles from our farm. Our studio is at a much lower elevation than the farm and pretty much right on the water.
The studio sheep had the job this summer of making friends with our baby miniature dairy goats and teaching them good manners and where they belong in the pecking order. Our house dog even got in on the training and got them used to the idea that dogs can be friends too.
The complication comes in when you realize that the baby goats will have to translate their new comfort level with 3 friendly sheep, a goofy Golden Retriever and the people they've known since the day they were born to a very unfamiliar and scary (at first) new home. With a storm potentially in the equation and flooding a very real possiblity, you don't have the luxury of time.
You can't just plop them out there the day before the storm hits. They need time to make friends with the sheep they haven't met yet and their new 24/7 caretakers, our livestock guardian dogs. Not to mention, they've never seen chickens and turkeys before and those chickens can be scarier than the dogs sometimes.
So day before yesterday, we took the baby goats to their new forever home at Black Sheep Farm. It's 15 feet higher in elevation there and the run-ins are sturdy and cozy. The welcoming committee showed up right on cue to meet the new 'kids' on the block. (get it?) haha
The first evening was a little intense for the babies. They're so small that everything seems big to them. The farm sheep were gentle and curious. The chickens were loud and obnoxious. And the dogs did this............
And then, just as they've been bred to do for generations of Great Pyrenees working dogs, they sniffed their new charges, looked them up and down, shoved the chickens away from the babies and did this...............
And today, as a weekend rainstorm pattered on the roof of the run-in, baby goats napped in one half while their guardians napped in the other. (The silly sheep were out grazing in the rain, but that's how they roll.)
We'll probably release the goats from the run-in in a few more days. Just in time to get to know their field before Irma potentially drives them all back into the run-in to wait out the storm together. By then we will have brought the other 3 sheep from the studio back out to the farm. We expect lots of doggie kisses when everyone is reunited. Cardinal Woolsey and Admiral Woolsey really do love their flock. Even the chickens.
At some point when you're watching a storm, preparing the best way you know how has to be sufficient and you have to retreat inside yourself and pray for the animals that have no shelter and the shepherds and ranchers that are worried about their animals' safety. Here's hoping for a quiet remainder of the hurricane season and speedy recovery for the good folks along the Gulf.