The Farming of Goats 

I woke up late this morning. Just the same I went to bed this morning for I hadn’t visited sleep in the night but it surely crept upon me in the morning. So I woke up late around 9:30am. Then I remembered school reopens today; my nephew already gone. He usually tends to the goats if I’m absent – we kinda have a system. Today was different, I was hungry. Surely tending to goats was going to be delayed. So I thought, why not set them free; let them traverse the wilds and graze. Surely after I finish my civilised rituals I can put on the attire of the bushman in search of them. And so it was, they were let loose, ropes dangling around their necks galloping away. One’s rope was exceptionally short. I soon realised it was detached from the knot connecting two pieces of rope. What remained was around the neck, the other piece I could not find. Oh well! She was a young goat and goes wherever the others go. Back to more civilised matters. I woke up late this morning and now I’m tired for I just spent two hours searching for goats in the bush; places I call the wilds. My hair is messy with thorns and thistles, and I have new scratches. Being bruised by the bush became a thing for me since I returned from Kingston; I’ve returned soft. But I digress. I have spent two whole hours in the bushes!

I brushed my teeth, went to the fridge to grab my Sunday dinner since it was there waiting since yesterday. I paused and opted to just taste the sorrel instead. There are goats to tend to. It was now 10:00am. Off I went but first, check the pipe. Yes! There is water. Well sort of. It drips. Drip…drip…drip. Surely a bucket could be set. I should be back way before it’s full. Tending to goats is pretty easy, bring the goats somewhere and tie them, return for them in the evening, twenty minutes tops. This sort of thing typically takes me an hour. Even though they are goats, each has their own peculiarities. So I let them more or less choose their grazing grounds. I tie them where they settle. I spent a lot of time watching goats growing up; it was one reason I rushed to rent that George Clooney movie in high school, Men Who Stare at Goats. It was not about what I anticipated at all, fi tell yu di truth.

There I was, at goat bush. I see three goats grazing, not the others. Where are they? This started the musings of the day that I now write of. Since returning home from Kingston and tending to goats, I’ve brought these goats to new pastures. What would become of freed goats that have come to know new pastures? Aah, I said they will seek new places for now they know the new. So I went further into the wilds and surely, there were two other goats. I noticed I once had one herd since I was the herder but setting them free I now have two herds: three in one place and two in another. Each goat separating with each of their own kind, some liked to graze on the leaves of the neem tree, others preferred the leaves of the acacia tree; there are those that yearned for the leaves of the plum trees and most common of all, those that simply preferred grass. Each goat with their preferences and each to their own herd; today I had two herds since I the farmer relaxed restriction over them. I thought on these things and bound them where they grazed. But were these goats free? They had that rope around their necks, a symbol of my dominion over them. I was The Farmer, the herder of Goats. Surely they had to be bound by either rope or fences for me to claim any of these goats to be mine. They had not gone too far nor into too strange of places, they were easy to find. They being unbound like the illusion of freedom for my ropes were hung tight around their necks still. The authority of the farmer absolute, for today I was no philosopher but a priest. My herd was goats and my doctrine ropes. After thinking these things I tie all the goats in their places, each to their own preference for grazing and each with their own herd. I was a nourishing priest after all. Then I noticed one goat was missing. This was when I went out in search for her; a lone goat.

Where would a lone goat go? A solitary goat with no herd surely would not go too far, I pondered. Then I thought upon it more, it might seem a trivial matter but a goat was missing. Worst yet, I was no true farmer for I owned not these goat. I was merely the inheritor of the title farmer; the true owner of this flock was my mother. Losing a goat would not look good on my record at all. This goat must be found. So, I thought about the nature of this lone goat. I remembered that this missing goat always wondering off to strange places. Surely a goat such as that under the guise of freedom would go to truly new places. The situation looked serious; I took a break from my search and returned to home. The bucket was half full. I drank some water. I was preparing myself for a serious search. This goat would go to places that farmers would not normally go. To find this goat I must prepare myself to go new places. This was a goat that knew danger, I speculated; a wild goat; a rebel. I was excited; surely this would be an adventure.

I returned to the wilds. I first started to look around where I found the first herd, in the places not fit for the journey of farmers. Through thick bushes I went, listening for the cries of a goat. Even though this was a goat that seemed to resist the rule of farmers, she could not have gone to truly new places for she had that rope around her neck. Surely that rope would get caught up in shrubs, rocks or trees. As the farmer of goats, goats are raised on the farmer’s lands. The goats were born among the kin of farmers and taught the ways of farm goats. The ways of farmers are surely superior to the ways of farm goats; of that I was certain. As such I knew that a dangerous and rebellious goat would only strive to evade the farmer and in so only go places that farmers find difficult and goats find easy. I laughed at this thought. Today I shall become like a goat. I shall go to strange and forlorn places to farmers but familiar places to goats; to the paradise of wild goats, such was the power of the farmer on their own lands. The farmer could go anywhere yet the goat could not know this. I searched around the first herd deep in the hills. Then the second herd deep in the hills. I heard neither cries nor shuffling. As I crawled through a thick bush I heard a rustle. I stopped and made the call of a goat, for such is the might of farmers that they speak the language of goats. I inched closer and as I did I heard the flap of wings; big wings. It was a bird. Shit! Surely I was mad. I regrouped in the clearing.

I remembered once when these very goats when missing, I found them in the hills beside my brother’s house. I wondered how they got there then for it was surrounded by fences. But a fence is no match for a solitary goat who has tasted freedom, I thought. So I went to those hills in search of that goat. I was getting tired. That bucket crossed my mind. Surely it has been full by now. Maybe I should leave this goat? I stood upon a rock and looked over the community as I thought about these things. There was more greenery than there were clearings. Surely a truly free goat can explore all this sea of green. I have not even been to that many lands here. I knew the power of solitude well, it’s the freedom to go many strange places and explore new things for there is not the restriction of the herd. Solitude brings one to face the dangers of the wilds and to confront despair head on: to die or move beyond it. That is what freedom meant for me; it was a dangerous undertaking. To move beyond the walls of despair left there by convention or the social nature of man. However, for the goat this despair was its rope, a rope it could move beyond if snagged. That goat will never explore those green seas for his rope will become snagged, left to either choke or starve. Yet I the farmer was a man and despair a thing to overcome by the application of the intellect. To go new places meant to go where no man had gone before or to go where those before you have tried and died trying. Despair is seeing the impossible. Going beyond despair is to see and carry on anyway. How else must man learn of the bounds of his power? Today however, I was no philosopher; I had goats to tend to.

I leapt from the rock, rested. I was not there long. Just a passing thought while looking over the plains. Still too tired to walk all the way around the fence so I opted to jump the fence. I sized up the approach. I picked my clearing, I saw a nice patch. The twigs parted just right. I wondered if I was nimble enough still. I saw the jump clearly in my mind, my foot snagging on the wire and falling right on my face. I sized up the approach for the jump. I jumped. Smooth landing. I had that bounce. It’s been years since I had that bounce. I glided over a tree; smooth. I had found a new energy. I was moving through the shrubs more gracefully in my assessment. I felt something crawling down my neck; I jumped quickly and fanned it away. It was just a leaf; I laughed. I soon realise I was not giving this goat the proper respect of a free agent. I must abandon the mindset of the farmer with authority over goats. I must think as an agent of freedom. I remembered once stopping that very goat in the tracks of the hills far from where I’ve ever brought goats before. I explored that area last week. I tied a goat there in the clearing there several days ago. Was this the same goat? I’m not sure but if such a goat has embraced freedom then I’ll find her there for sure. Running across the clearing to yet new hills I’m now parched. I decided to stop and take in the scene of what I called the House of Butterflies. Found it a week ago, a spot where butterflies spend the night – a nest sort of. I had never seen it in the day like this before, it was empty of butterflies and looked very unspectacular but what time was it? I was not sure of the time. I left home at 10am. How long was I here? It felt like quite awhile. I looked at the sun to check if it was overhead; it was at an angle; east or west I did not know. Still early – then I’ve been here a hour maybe. Worst case it was after noon. I walked through the path and I dreamed that as I made it to the clearing, there I would see the goat grazing, rope dangling from the neck, grazing at that spot without a care in the world; only giving me a passing glance of insignificance. I was clearly either too tired or thinking way too romantically about goats. My madness was upon me again. These very words I write etching themselves in my head. I laughed. I saw the clearing ahead. I walked closer to it, I was excited, I was nervous, and I was shocked. No fucking goat. Where was this goat? I was honestly out of ideas. I lay in the grass both in frustration and to rest; to gather my thoughts and contemplate the madness of all this.

As I lay on my back and looked up into the sky I heard it. The sound I was listening for all morning. I jumped up. I was in disbelief. I heard the cries of a goat. The goat was here! My madness had yet again done me well. So I responded in the language of goats. I did not care. The goat was close but deep in the bush. I most certainly have not been in those bushes before. The goat had gone indeed to new places, I laughed. Now, I must retrieve her. I spoke the language of goats so I could close in on the location. I looked deep in the bush and picked my path, the spaces were tight. I was down low, twigs were in my eyes. I itched all over but I was drawing close. Still could not see her. The goat beckoned with another cry; I turned my head and there she was about twenty metres ahead, a patch of white in a sea of green and grey. I inched closer. Her rope wrapped up to her neck around a tree. I laughed. So, free goats do need farmers after all. I looked right beside her and there was another goat; the young goat from this morning with the missing piece of rope that I ignored. A truly free goat; there was no long dangling rope around the young goat’s neck, just the short stub of a rope left. This goat could not get tangled. The truly freed goat was grazing, paying me no attention. I wondered, was this the free goat I was tracking unknowingly? Did the twined up goat follow the young goat to strange places? It didn’t matter; I found them both, although the truly free goat was of no concern of mine. I had to rest, the space was tight and I wanted a moment to marvel. Now there were three herds. I had found the third; the herd of free goats.

If searching for the free goat was hard. Getting her untwined and leading her to the clearing in such tight spaces was another task entirely. I just wanted to get home. I made it out and tied her in the clearing where I dreamt of finding her. The truly free goat – the young goat followed. I went home. The incident of finding two free goats when I anticipated finding one, reminded me of a statement a friend made not long ago. “The foundation of society is two people, not the individual”. Humans are not goats. The solitary individual finds his kin in ideas. Even dead humans can be companions for living ones for the ideas of the dead lingers on. Those that live dangerously are guided by the light of dead ones before them – guided by ideas left in history. The ideas of the dead however must be surpassed and become new light for others so they may move farther still in the darkness of the unknown and uncertain. The farmer prefers the company of other farmers just as the free goat prefer the company of other free goats – this is the herd of the free; to each their own herds. The free man does not seek followers but rather companions and rivals; each going their own way but occasionally they meet to share ideas; likewise do farmers meet to share their methods. The free herd is a herd of the human intellect. Remember I’m merely a pretence of a farmer, my mother own these goats. It is here I become the poet and declare my goats to be my experiences. I’m a farmer of experience. I wish to go where no man has gone before and capture new goats – to capture new experience. This is a dangerous undertaking and I have made those that live dangerously my companions-dead or living companions. If however, I’m too tired to traverse the unknown, I may choose to give birth to new experiences by marriage; the marriage of the experiences I already have- pregnant ideas. I returned home now, the bucket at the pipe was overflowing. I checked the time; it was 12:28pm. I fed the pigs and the chicken then I went to feed myself. The wrangling of goats has ended for one day.

Goat Farmer and Thieves vlog

5 thoughts on “The Farming of Goats ”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this. However, I suspect no true bushman would have considered setting his livelihood and sustenance free (LOL). I did not make a rigorous study of On Man and Words, but it struck me that your experience here runs counter to it.

    Suppose the farmer is God. The farmer allows His “goats” freedom. Some prefer one road; some, another. Some choices are wiser than others. Of course, the spiritual relationship is closer between God and man, since man was made in God’s image (whether he evolved or not). In any case, the farmer knows what is in the goats’ best interest…even when they think He doesn’t. He provides them nourishment and shelter. He sets rules for the relationships among them. He heals their ills (or arranges for a doctor to do so). When they are lost, He seeks them out.

    It’s a rudimentary metaphor, but it will serve for my purposes. Religion (as in organized religion) is really a creation of man’s. Since man is flawed, organized religion is likewise flawed. The personal relationship each human being chooses to have w/ God (or not have w/ Him) is what really matters.

    Wishing you the best,



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