Ahhhh, normal. Whatís it like? Normal sounds so pleasant. Goat farmers might as well forget about ever being normal. Unless normal means staying up all hours of the night during kidding season, working just as hard if not harder in the winter time as you do in the summer, never having vacations unless itís for an hour or two, and yet, in spite of all the trials, you get this goofy proud grin that you own such gorgeous animals. Who gives a fig about sleep, weather, winter, cold, comfort, and vacations?
Last Friday night Lee and I was coming home with the last load of round bales. The truck and the flatbed trailer were loaded down, it was late and dark out. So dark you could see in the lit up houses as you drove slowly down our country road. There was everyone safely inside their homes, watching television or sitting around the dining room table eating, all looked content to be resting at home.
ďGee, is that what a normal evening looks like?Ē I asked Lee. ďWonder what it feels like to be normal?Ē
Lee just mumbled something because he was busy trying to navigate slowly on a very narrow bumpy road where oncoming drivers seemed to think they were the only ones that should be on it. Weíd just got off another road slightly bigger than the road to our farm. Sure, that one was a two lane, but only because a lot of the people living on that road protested about it being a car and a half wide and really wanted it to be broadened to a two lane, with all the country traffic on it.
What did the powers that be do? Why, of course, they put a line down the center of that narrow road, never widened it, and told everyone, now you have a two lane road. I guess they think country folk are idiots.
Now, true, part of giving up normalcy when you are a goat farmer might be because you live in the country, but, you see, they wonít let us bring goats to town, so we have to live in the country. Country living is fraught with strangeness. Bad roads, electric out half the time and bad phones. If your land phone goes out here, you are informed that no one can come and fix it for a week or two. So, you go get a cell phone to have some contact with the outside world. Then, with your cell phone, you find yourself running from one end of the house to the other, trying to stand by different windows to get a little bit of a reception and even then you are guessing every other word what the person on the other end is trying to say.
Internet. Oh, my. You get dial up out in the country and you know how the phones go down so you donít have internet very consistently and if you do, the phone company wonít upgrade to DSL because itís not worth it out there for them to put the money in it. Naturally, no cable out there to get internet that way. You could go dish satellite for both internet and TV, but they think country folk are wealthy and that certainly costs. We opted to just go dish for the internet and you pay greatly for the equipment and hugely each month for the service and they time you and punish you if you use it too much. The speed is a little better than dial-up and at least you can be on the phone and the internet at the same time, if the phone is working that week, but you do pay for it through the nose.
And, you need country vehicles to get in and out of your country home or farm and it has to be rugged 4-wheel drive vehicles. Itís not a matter of being macho that you get these types of vehicles, itís just trying to get to work or the store from your home because the roads are only cleaned from snow and ice in the winter if there is a school day. If school is called off because of weather, you are on your own. The list goes on and on about country living.
Now, top this off with being a goat farmer. Nope, donít expect to ever be normal again. The hours can be long, from doing kidding, to keeping up with wormings and shots and trimming feet, to feeding, to bringing in hay for winter, tending any sick animals, and stocking up.
Stocking up? Thatís being prepared with wormers, medicines, feed, hay, and supplies and also supplies for yourself. Remember, sometimes you just canít get out to get supplies, roads are too bad, or you canít leave because of girls kidding. Be prepared. I know town folk who go to the store every day because itís no problem. Country folk and goat farmers always have to think in the future to keep things stocked up. Because if anyone is going to be without electric, it will be the country folk, and if any are to have horrible roads, it will be the country folk.
Why? Well, think of a herd of goats. It they arenít happy, they bellow at you, ďWhereís my hay?! We are hungry! You are suppose to take better care of us than this!Ē Thatís like town or city folk. Thereís a lot more of them to make a greater noise so everyone runs around to tend them first.
Now, how about one little lone goat or one person in comparison to a herd or city folks. That one lone little person or goat goes, ďBaa? Baa? I donít have electric, my road is snowed in, the phoneís out.Ē Or maybe you have ten people living on your country road. Ten little voices donít compare to a whole monster herd of loud voices complaining. So, town or city folk get the best first.
Oddly enough, most country folk and goat farmers accept this situation. Why? Thereís something wonderful about living in the country. The space, the quiet, the beauty, the freedom from prying eyes and snoopy neighbors, and the danger. Danger? Ever come face to face with a snake or an unexpected raccoon? Talk about the thrill of retreat.
And, then thereís the goats. Lovely beautiful beasts that eat unwanted brush and make your place look like a park. Sure, a lot of work is put into those goats, but arenít they grand to look at? I can see right now, Iíll never be normal.