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A Memorable “Goat-Bye”

One of my favourite things about living on a farm is that you’re never bored, and life becomes full of unexpected – and often wonderful – surprises. This past Saturday took that to a whole new level as a dream of mine came true in the most effortless, spontaneous, beautiful way.

An afternoon hike in the best of company

After our last birthday lunch for F’s 39th (this year we did mini celebrations over a 10-day period, which I suspect marks the beginning of a new tradition), two friends joined us in fending off the looming food coma – courtesy of a hearty meal punctuated by a Tiramisu and Cherry crumble – by going for a hike up to “The Rock”, a set of giant boulders set atop a hill and making for a pretty badass viewpoint.

I strapped Little A on, hoping she would take a nap. The dogs, all tail wags and enthusiasm for adventure, ran back and forth as we prepared, raring to go. Fuji, our Princess Huntress of a cat, came with (she does that). And then, to my amazement, our four goats fell more or less into step with us too.

The goat dream & dilemma

Going up to The Rock with our goats was something I had always wanted to do. I had envisioned myself doing it regularly as a form of active meditation, pausing along the way to let the ladies go to town on the stubborn brambles that just refused to die, peppered along the path.

It never happened, for myriad reasons. Notably, that we goat-herded for a short period before realizing that our herd could more or less manage themselves and free-range (that sounds simple but it was a process). Then life took over, and between working remotely, having a baby, and dedicating farm time to the vegetable garden or hanging out with the donkeys… That was that.

We also decided that it was time to get rid of our goats. F would have done this years ago, but I so love having them around that he relented. But, we have been accumulating fruit trees, in pots, that need to be planted, and despite on-going renovations and landscaping projects, it’s time. How else will our vision of an edible landscape ever come to life? And protecting each and every tree from goats – who nibble off leaves and the bark, killing saplings and mature trees alike – is too much work, time better used for other items on our endless to-do list.

The good news is that after a few dead ends, F found a new forever home for our goats. We’ll be saying goodbye to them today.

I was sure the ladies – Mathilde (one of the original four), Margaux (a curved-horn matriarch we got from friends), and Stracciatella & Bearnaise (Mathilde’s Twins) – would run off before long. Or so I told myself, while hoping in my heart of hearts that they would come with us to the top of The Rock.

A worthy farewell

Having stolen my own thunder, it won’t surprise you to read that they made it to the top.

I might be projecting or anthropomorphizing, but it really felt like they came with us as a show of trust, if not love (or animal appreciation, potayto potahto). Whenever I stopped or slowed down, they did the same. Once we got to the top, they explored without ever going too far. And when we embarked on the return journey some 30 minutes later, they were right there with us.

It filled my heart with so much joy and saudades (defined by Oxford Languages as “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament” – spot on).

It felt like a swan song of love and gratitude. Or perhaps I should call it a “goat song”?

Whatever it was, I admit I didn’t just soak it up through my five senses, but immortalized it in photos and videos, too. The emotions are mine, but the beauty and perhaps mild absurdity of humans going for a walk accompanied by two dogs, a cat, and four goats – that is somewhat captured in the images below. Just in case my high school maths teacher was right, and a picture really is worth a thousand words (or 700 or so words, as the case may be).

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