It's cold outside, the wind is howling, the trees are bare and the grass is mostly brown. Still, it's my favorite time of the year. It's goatie time.
Because we have "kids" of our own, my wife Carolyn and I say "goatie" when we're referring to the baby goats. Almost all babies are great, of course. You can't help but love the calves, the lambs, the puppies and the fluffy baby chicks peeking out from under Mom's skirt feathers. But the babies that keep us outside in the bad weather admiring them as little miracles are the goaties.
What it is, precisely, that makes the goaties special is hard to figure. After all, lambs are cute as the dickens. Puppies are more friendly with us and the calves are great clowns, leaping and twisting their tails, butting each other and taunting the cows. But the goaties are in a class by themselves.
I might be partial to goats because I have a history with goats. When I was 9, our neighbor Mr. Posey hired me to care for his small herd of goats, and I've been a goat person ever since. But our visitors recognize something uniquely appealing in the goaties, even if they've never seen a goat in their lives.
The little boogers are just so full of life.
Lambs and calves are pitifully vulnerable for the first few days of life. Not so the goaties. They are standing within minutes, running within hours and within days they are mischief machines.
Goaties are in love with their own miraculous bodies. We imagine we can see them thinking, "I wonder if I could jump this way? I wonder if I could jump that way? I'll bet I can run faster than I did yesterday!" They stay busy with this sort of nonsense most of the day.
"Speed" was the first goatie on the scene this year, born Feb. 1. He's pictured above. Even by goatie standards, Speed is full of troublesome fun. He seldom stops moving. He harrasses all the does, trying to nurse from whoever is nearby and getting butted for his cheek. When he was a few days old he was joined by "Lady Anne," a shy chocolate-colored doe with a white skullcap and boots, then the twins "Venus" and "Adonis," tiny creatures smaller than cats. Under Speed's tutelage, everyone is growing up a troublemaker.
That kind of vitality is absent from our day-to-day. Our lives are full of logistics, finances and schedules. By the end of most days I'm operating at about half my native enthusiasm. I change out of my office clothes and go out to check on the goaties. Five minutes watching them testing their new bodies, inventing fun and breathing the extraordinary air — I'm full of zeal again.
With their example in front of me, it would be embarrassing to feel otherwise.
Photos by Bryan Welch