What Katie Did Today

The view from the milk stool this morning is about water lilies. I feel like one. I’m in the mud and I want to bloom, but it’s hard sometimes. Like the lilies, when I do bloom, I’m really pretty (not talking appearances for me because I know I’m not pretty, but what I produce *when I’m in a good place* is pretty). The problem is getting through that mud and for my stem to be strong enough to support the bloom.

I keep going in these dark, muddy places and they can be comforting because that’s what I know. Anais Nin’s quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” has always resonated with me.

Yesterday morning I was talking to Wally McSwain about how Gel (the Border Collie who was my right hand for 14 years) used to help me with the milking. I had a separate milk room approximately 50 feet from the paddock where the goats spent the night. I’d open the gate and let two into the milk parlor. When I was through milking, I’d push them out the door and Gel would scoop them up and put them in an adjoining paddock. The gate to the paddock would remain open and he’d hold the gate while I milked. If Gel could count, I’d have let him let them into the milk room two at a time. I expect with a bit more training, he could have learned that. Gel was brilliant. I miss him greatly.

The way my milking is set up now is that I let the goats in, two at a time. The milk room is in the barn. It’s tough to let them back into the barn when I’m through milking because the remaining goats push to come in. I like to be ready for the next goat by having the grain already in the bin for them. So we made a paddock, about 50 feet from the milk room. When I’m through milking them, I walk them, one by one, over to the paddock. As I was doing that yesterday, I told Wally that I wished I could teach Katie to do what Gel did. I asked him he if thought she could do it. He answered, honestly, as Wally always does, “probably not.” I told him that I was going to try. She’s quite keen to work – she’s a bit zoomy and still very immature, but it was worth a try.

So we brought Katie up and left Jack in his run. Jack has more want to work than any dog I’ve ever seen, but he has no brain – he gets frantic and turns into a Jaws and I can’t have that with the dairy goats.

BTW Katie, is a dog we bought probably a year ago now from David Henry. She’s a really nice dog and I haven’t done much with her because she hasn’t had enough sustained push for the goats. She might do some pushing, but it’s been erratic. She’d been leaving a difficult goat behind instead of trying to move it. We’ve considered getting sheep to train her on, but neither Wally nor I feel like dealing with handling sheep and the parasites they’re so prone to. My goats have done really well in the parasite department and I don’t want to jeopardize that.

Katie surprised me this morning. The first goat that came out was Galactica who’s got a serious chip on her shoulder. She’ll bow up on me if I try to push her somewhere she doesn’t want to go. Well, Katie got her the 50 feet to the paddock. It was pretty, but she did it. I’m milking eight goats right now so Katie got lots of practice.

The video is of her moving Marianna. What I like is that she’s nipping at heads rather than bodies – or heaven forbid – udders. There’s promise and she loved it so we’ll see.

Until later …