I've stopped looking out the back windows to the house. While the views beyond the paddock to the forests and mountains is stunning, inevitably when I do look I will see that the three goats that are supposed to be grazing and foraging in the foreground are no where to be found.
I'd like to think that you haven't lived until you have chased three dairy goats through two pastures, over a stone wall and down a lane so muddy you lose a shoe that turns up three days later, unrecognisable as a brown lump left on your front step by a hunter. Or stood in your kitchen making a cup of tea after that escapade and watching those hooved Musketeers head straight back over the wall and into trouble, their little upright tails flipping you the bird as they go. Climbing back into the muddy coat and new boots to spend the next 45 minutes looking for them, only to give up and head back to the house to find them standing in your kitchen waiting patiently for you, having eaten your houseplants. Who needs a gym membership, TV, a life or to get anything done when you have goats.
For the first year or so of goat keeping, goat escapes were tame. With just two goats, Dascha and Freya, they didn't get far. D was too fat and unweildly to go anywhere and F didn't want to leave her friend behind. At worst, Frey would stand on the wall just outside the pen and wait until bed time to go in. And then we got Red.
In order to keep ourselves in milk, the girls need to kid, or freshen, every other year or so. Dascha, being the breed that is one of the heaviest and longest milkers in the dairy goat world, has been in milk since a teenage pregnancy (she busted out of her pen as a youngster to cavort with a field of billies) since January 2015. But, her production slowed to a stop over the autumn and our supply of home grown milk and cheese was replaced with the store bought variety. Our debates about whether or not to bring a billy goat into our lives were abruptly put to bed when my friend said she had a billy in her trailer and was bringing him over for us.
And so Red joined our little herd. Despite his small stature and with the aid of his daily baths in urine and ejaculate (yes, I just typed that!!!!) he has proven irresistible to the girls whose increasing plumpness indicate that he has been successful in his wooing. So enamoured are they, in fact, that they follow him anywhere - over the fence and into the fields and forests surrounding the house in search of the tastiest leaves, branches and trouble they can find. With the expectation that his progeny will be equally as ornery, I have been costing up prison fencing and full time guards as my only viable containment option.
And so, I avoid looking at the paddock, knowing that when and if I do, I will be tromping through mud to round up my merry band of naughty goats who are never where we left them.