Our goats sleep in a shed near our house at night and then every morning someone has to open the shed and walk them down to this big fenced area where they eat all the overrun blackberries and oaks during the day. Sometimes that someone is Bill and sometimes that someone is me. The kids can’t do it because the job requires a willingness for the goats to follow and they would never follow the kids. (Goats have a deep understanding of authority, unlike dogs who would let a toddler boss them around.) Also, the person with this job has a bucket of scraps to give the goats once they arrive at their destination and if one of our kids was holding the bucket of scraps, Odie and Garfield would just trample them until they had happily eaten all the scraps and our children were traumatized for life.
Which means it’s been over a year since I’ve been doing this goat commute and I’ve noticed that I go through the exact same emotions every day. I call it, “The Seven Stages of Goat”.
1. Dread — The last thing I want to do at 6:30 a.m. is put on a coat and boots and cross the threshold of our porch into the chilly morning. This is the time of day that I dread ever deciding to have a farm. I think of my old life in the city with a down comforter over my head and a cappuccino machine waiting for me in the kitchen and I think, Why? Why? Why?
2. Blame — I hate the goats. Why did I ever get goats? Who cares about all the blackberries on our property? Is that really a reason to buy two annoying animals off craigslist? It’s all the goat’s fault that I can’t just sit on the couch in my pajamas and sip coffee. And besides, why don’t we have a farm hand to do this? It’s all the farm-hand-that-we-don’t-have’s fault.
3. Acceptance — Okay, the goats have been stuck in the shed long enough. Plus, I still have to make Buck’s lunch for school and get everybody else going. Now is the time to go. Here I go. One more sip of coffee. Now here I go.
4. Surprise — Oh, it’s actually kind of nice outside. I can see the sunrise through the trees, the birds are singing and my boots don’t have any spiders in them. This actually isn’t so bad.
5. Love — Odie and Garfield are so sweet. I love how they wag their little tails when I pet them and how they nuzzle up against me as we walk together. When I saw their ad on craigslist, it said, “Baby goats for sale — For soup or BBQ.” And look at them, giant beautiful goats that will never be soup or BBQ. I love them and I hope they live a really long time.
6. Annoyance — Okay, I just told you I love you guys, so stop peeing on my feet as we walk. Seriously, it’s disgusting. This is why people eat you, isn’t it?
7. Serenity — I walk back to the house like some crazy mindful buddhist yogi. I smell the air, look at spiderwebs covered in dew and feel just happy to be alive. My whole being is filled with gratitude. It’s an absolutely wonderful way to start the day.
And by tomorrow morning, I know that I will feel dread again. I now realize that my morning goat commute is like exercise or anything else that’s really hard, but totally worth it. I have to consciously force myself out of my ever present sloth-like state in order to achieve something worthwhile, and then it’s blissful. So thank you, Odie and Garfield. You guys are like my furry Dalai Lamas.
Except you can stop peeing on my feet. I really do hate that.