Sunday, 8 June 2014

That time Talia chased a goat wearing a tutu and went Contra Dancing in Cornwall....

Goat Roadtrip

So this Rabbi goes up to Meredith and says "how do you usually take the goats around?" Rabbi! Did it look like we usually transport goats when we rocked up with 6 goats in a - I want to call it a van but at most it was a car with a kind of large boot - with a hole in it covered up with a bit of wire so the goats didn't climb out and an electric fence we couldn't plug in to create a two hour makeshift pen at a synagogue?

At one point, Meredith turned to the 25 kids in this tiny pen with 6 goats and said in a whisper in all seriousness "sshhhh, don't tell the goats it isn't plugged in!"
Child: "can they understand?!"
Meredith: "I don't know - maybe?!" Not telling the goats about the electric fence was all we were going on that they wouldn't run for the nearest tasty bush - across the highway or into someone's garden.

To be honest, the road trip couldn't have gone smoother considering how unpredictable goats are. You just never know what their next move might be! I mean if you are taking 6 genius goats for a 2 hour drive where the first stop is to set up a pen at a synagogue for kids to pet goats while we simultaneously run a cheese workshop, then pack up and drive them up to their final destination, summer camp, then you need to be ready for unpredictability.  Luckily all the mishaps happened before we left the farm (the goats got into the 50 pound bag of grain before we left because they are Derren Brown Goats, 4 bags of 50lb grain don't stack - they fall onto the person already squished in a tiny back seat - me, and a few more minor things).

It took many hours and there were many crazy moments - especially when you turn around in the car and see Baclava the Goat staring back at you wide eyed - but we were victorious!

The Goat Parade - the next day!

On the festival of Shavuot, the harvest festival, at the Isabella Freedman Centre, the goats get dressed up - of course - in tutus, event staff shirts, bandanas etc, for their big day and walk at the front of a parade of people wearing white, singing, carrying a chupah and lots of offerings of first fruits, vegetables, grains from the farm.
Goats' favourite thing in the whole word is grass, weeds, other green things on the ground so when given the option between following even their most beloved human, Meredith, into a crowd of jubilant, singing people or the woods..... it isn't really a choice.
The songs of praise coming from the mouths of the children of Israel stop as they hold up their offerings. They wait for the holy goat herder to open the gates for the goats and to lead them up the mountain (tiny hill) in a parade of joy and song to the entrance of the feasting tent.

Mama and Baby Goats (who are now more like teenage goats) are let out of the barnyard and ... run straight to the nearest greens. There is now a mad rush where some staff run after them, some grab their collars and manage to start walking, half following, half trying to get in front of the crowd of Israelites who have started on their way, while others have to stay behind chasing the rest of the goats around the woods.  I managed to grab my favourite goat, Talia, and we get in front of the crowd though Talia has to stop every 5 feet to eat everything along the way. We walk the circuit though the crowd who have now fallen a while behind and have a few minutes of peaceful walking before heading back to the barnyard and trying to get all the goats back in.

And this was just a little bit of it! All in all, an exhausting but amazing and emotional few goat days of mama and baby separations and general goat madness.

Also I went Contra Dancing - because I am a farmer in New England - in Cornwall!

Me hilling potatoes with a hoe

goats getting out of the car 

eating dinner next to our car and little goat pen when all the kids had gone inside

there wasn't a lot of room....


The goats - happy as Larry at summer camp

Saturday Brunch under a maple tree


The town hall in Cornwall

Us Contra Dancers

Talia the goat

Potato plants 

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