Last fall Tide Mill Creamery welcomed a herd of sixty Nubian goats to the farm. They are a gift and a delight (not without their own set of challenges of course). Our land here on the outskirts of the farm, nestled in woodland and recently cleared pasture, is the realm of the goat. In thinking of our our little farm as a whole organism, the goats fill a missing link, keeping those pastures cleared, producing fertile compost for the garden, and making the milk that has been considered by many throughout history to be a healing medicine—milk which we will be making into cheese! The cheese-making process, in turn, produces the rich whey which we feed to our pigs. Although we will continue to make all our our delicious cow milk products, we are excited to be diversifying, and especially excited to be milking a herd of our own. Taking care of a farm, running a business, and parenting my own human “kids” can often feel hectic and overwhelming, but the goats find ways to pull me into the moment. On our romps through the woods and down to the beach they clamber around the tastiest evergreens, hop curiously onto big rocks, and randomly leap into the air in displays of sheer exuberance. All else falls away in these moments. In fact, I live for these moments, of winter sunlight and frolicking little goats, the peace of the natural world settling around us until it’s all there is.
The Medicine Goats
The medicine goats come,
They lead me to the hills,
pausing beside juniper,
to let the sun sink into their fur.
The medicine goats nibble the buds off raspberry bushes,
seek and pluck the bitters and thorns from amidst the grass.
They lead me to the shore,
where they balance on big rocks
and sniff at seaweed.
They invite me to sing,
while they curl into the bank
and chew their cuds.
The moment cracks open.
I stand, quivering
between bedrock and the billowing clouds.
Now, the crooked call of the raven above,
I twist and look up
the blue doorway of sky.
by Rachel Bell