Monday, June 4, 2012

Two Goats for a Dog--The Story of Ru

I sat on a bed of straw with my back propped against the rough wall of the barn. The unrelenting snow fell outside. I watched the slow progress of a laboring goat, her gentle panting, her eyes fixed into a concentrated stare. Occasionally she cried softly as contractions moved through her. It was far enough into the night that the sun's welcomed arrival was imminent. I struggled to keep my eyes open and my fingers warm. 

This was not my first goat birth, in fact it was the third I had attend in the last few days. Excitement filled my body the first time I watched a goat give birth back when I was in high school, working on a family farm. I had worked with three other herds since then, witnessing and assisting many births (human and goat), and now, in the middle of April, Pam's eleven does were all going into labor with a spring blizzard afoot. For three nights we took turns staying up in the cold barn to watch over her laboring herd. 

Once the snow cleared up and the majority of goats were maternally nursing their tender babes I said my farewells to Pam. I would be back to take care of the girls in another few weeks when she headed to Kansas to visit her daughter. Pam wanted to thank me for my work but said she hardly had money to pay me for my time, which I expected and understood. Few farmers have the money to pay themselves let alone their help. Pam enthusiastically offered me two baby goats so that I could start my own herd. I laughed. "Pam, I live in a tipi. I am itinerant and nomadic. That's no life for a goat. Maybe a dog, but not a goat."

When Pam got back from her trip from Kansas she had a small black dog with her. "What's that?" I asked, very well knowing that this was a gift for me. "You said you wanted a dog and my daughter's dog had puppies!" The mama dog, Panda, was ten years old, never fixed, and had never before had a litter.

I reluctantly put the small, shy dog in my car. Everyone I saw cooed over her sweetness and I in turn offered for them to take her.  Half-jokingly I considered taking her to the pound. A few days later I brought Rudabega to play rehearsal. She barked at her reflection in the dance mirrors. She howled along with us as we warmed up our voices (a trick that still tickles my heart to this day). Then, she crawled into my woven basket that I tote around and fell asleep. It was then, watching her, that I fell in love.

Three years later, I would argue that I have the best dog in the world. Like any proud Mama I have countless tender and amazing stories (the way she knows where to find me when I forget her places or how she sits outside patiently waiting for me when I go into the grocery store), plus a few disasters (she attacked a porcupine and then five hours later a skunk that wandered into a house I was care taking plus she killed a deer once).  The two of us are rarely apart--she comes to work, she comes to parties, and she never misses an opportunity to snuggle.

Ruda at three months.
Falling in love.

My favorite travel buddy. 
Ru's two favorite activities when we are down at the garden: chasing whoever lives in this wood pile and swimming in the ditch.
To this day I get giddy when climbing over fences-feeling the strength of my muscles, the flying moment when dismounting from the top wrung, the inevitable dirt on every part of me.

There are two things that top off the end of a physically laborious day. One is cold beer.
The other is swimming!

Crafting, giggling, dancing. 

Moving tipi poles. I love to practice tying all sorts of knots.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story, thanks! Glad you have a good dog.