By Terri Smith —
It was cold last night. We wake up to a world blanketed in snow at last. It is beautiful, but my first thought is of Amadeus. I quickly pull on long johns, wool socks, sweater, boots, toque, gloves, and scarf and even still when I walk outside the air feels cold.
I pick up the pitchfork and walk around the corner of the house where I come across Amadeus’ entire goat family standing in the early morning sunshine. Each of them looks wooly and fat and healthy and for a moment I can’t tell which goat is Amadeus— until he sees me and makes a small goat sound, and then comes trotting over to see if I have any tasty treats about my person.
“Good morning, Amadeus,” I say. “How was your night?”
He responds by checking my pockets for food and then pushing his face up into mine to ask for a kiss—the one trick I managed to teach him, which he knows earns him sunflower seeds.
“Just a minute,” I laugh. “I don’t have any food right now. I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”
He shakes his head at me when he realizes I have nothing to eat and starts to walk away. I take off a glove and sink my fingers into the wooly cashmere of his back. His coat is so thick and soft and beneath it his skin doesn’t feel the least bit cold. He pauses; he can’t resist a good back scratch.
After throwing some hay into the feeder for the rest of the goats I pile some into the wheelbarrow and take it back towards the house. Amadeus comes skipping along behind me, frolicking awkwardly as only Amadeus can. I’m trying to teach him to go into the new house I built for him inside the propagation greenhouse. With this new house-within-a-house arrangement he shouldn’t have a problem with not coming into our house this winter.
I raise the ground-level window of the greenhouse and step through with my arms full of hay. The window is just the right size for him and he happily follows me to his own personal feed bin. He prefers a private dining area as eating with the other goats means he probably has to burn just as many calories as he takes in dodging and running from his brothers and aunts who don’t want to let him eat.
I’m so happy to see him looking so robust now. Last winter he was still rather sickly and odd-looking and each time the weather reached -15 degrees C or colder he had to sleep in the house. This year he is strong and healthy with a thick layer of cashmere and no longer has to be my little house-goat.
Terri Smith is an organic vegetable farmer in the Cariboo with Road’s End Vegetable Company. She has a Bachelor’s degree in literature and a diploma in art.