Violet and Pansy are twin sisters (goats almost always deliver twins). Pansy is a little bigger than her sister, and nearly as pretty, but she has one trait that prevents her from being the queen: her temperament. Pansy is neurotic. Physically, a fine specimen, but she is kind of crazy. You can see it in her eyes.
|Pansy at Two Years Old|
When we went to pick up our first caprine additions to the farmstead, we decided to give our goats botanical names. Four years later, we may abandon this practice; it's getting a little confusing with a dozen does named after plants. The first two, we named according to personality: Violet (as in shrinking), and Pansy, because they were both so shy and skittish.
Unlike Violet, Pansy did not see the advantage in being friends with the people. She wouldn't let anyone near her. She was like a deer. A deer with Houdini-like evasion skills. More than once, this large-framed girl managed to launch herself out of the big shed, over the four-foot-high gate, through a three-foot gap between the top of the gate and the ceiling.
Honestly, I was ready to give up on her, but where could she go? I feared for her fate if we sold her. I was frustrated, but Farmer Fin was astoundingly patient with her. At vaccination time, he would sit on the milking stand with a scoop of sweet grain for many minutes as she eyed him cautiously, approaching only to flee to the corner of the shed (or out the gate) again and again. Eventually, he would lure her up there, and she was surprisingly pliant once she was locked in and munching on grain.
Over and over Fin and Pansy repeated variations of this theme. Sometimes he'd just sit and wait for her curiosity to get the better of her. She'd come close warily, but eventually, she began to allow him to scratch her back or stroke her head. Slowly but surely, Pansy was becoming domesticated. In the fall of 2011 we were even able to get her into the truck to be bred, and she had her first kids the next spring.
|Pansy and Baby Petunia|
Pansy is still quite suspicious of humans. When we bring strangers into the goat yard, she shies away, but if it's just us, she always comes over for a little affection. So far, we have let the moms raise their kids (this year, since we are transitioning into being a business, we'll be bottle-feeding), and Pansy is a very protective mother. Both of her daughters, Petunia and Peony, inherited their mother's craziness, to some degree. Petunia, though, as a young adult, has absorbed the culture of the farm, and has become cooperative and fairly friendly; we expect little Peony will too.
Pansy has taught us a lot about patience and love. She is a connection to the wildness of these creatures with whom we live and work. Whenever I see a family of deer grazing in a field, I think of her, and how adaptable animals can be.