Predator or Prey?

Baby goats under the heat lamp.

The way I think about the world has been irrevocably altered by living on a farm.

A few days ago, I went out to the barn. The routine: open the goat barn, let each goat out of her pen (separation prevents them head butting each other in close quarters), check the hay and water, and finally open the chicken door. I count them as they try to squeeze out two or three at a time through a door that allows one at a time. The morning clown show.

I’m standing in the door doing the quick assessment I always do. There are three goats. Thelia, (aka White Face), Andromache, and Marzanna. If all seems ok, I let them all out, opening the gates all the way to reduce MOIs (methods of injury). Goats have a head butting order, much like chickens have a pecking order. Being penned between a gate and a goat’s head is not where anyone wants to be. Just ask Maly.

I notice right off that Andromache is like “hey, hey, hey.” Oops. That would actually be “hay, hay, hay.” But see the weird thing is, she actually was saying “hey, hey, hey.”

I cocked my head to see what was up with Thelia in the westside pen. But she just stood there White Face. As usual.

But then… I see these bobbly heads and I am DUMB STRUCK.


Black and white.

Bobbly heads.

How many 3? 5?

My head turns to Marzanna.

OMG. She is not round anymore.

Shut the door. It’s 29 degrees out.


I close the door with me on the outside. Take a deep breath and run for my phone. Because Marzanna had given birth (early?) and I wasn’t even sure how many bobbly heads I was seeing.

So I run and get my phone, because I don’t know if I need to do anything. I know there are PROBLEMS WITH GOAT BIRTHS. But last I heard Marzanna had a few more weeks to go.


I run back. Make a short video to send to Charles so he can see that this crazy thing happened and $#Q@#%$ I don’t know what to do. Because I clearly remember him asking me if I knew where the book on goats was hiding. I have expectations for his situational awareness. And as it was, if it was a snake…

So the next two hours are




T I N G.

Charles built the goat barn with an old grain bin (aka faraday cage), and I, of course, forget this and am infuriated THAT HE CAN’T HERE ME NOW OF ALL TIMES.

Because he keeps saying “WHAT?” and all I want to know is DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING???

Never mind. He’s out of range anyway.

I’m astonished excited a little freaked out and ignorant.

I realize that whatever happens happens, it’s hard not to look over my shoulder to see if Death is lurking in the corner.

It’s two hours before I talk to anyone again. I watch these tiny creatures unfold.

One of the kids is lively and loud but having a hard time standing. His forelegs are knuckled over. There’s this thing called Weak Kid Syndrome. The books and websites say to help the kid stand. I gently unfold his forelegs every time he tries to stand. Within the hour he is walking on his own.

I once saw a gazelle give birth at a zoo. The entire herd turned together. As I followed their gaze, a tiny gazelle suddenly dropped to the ground. They all stood motionless. Waiting. The mother took a few moments to clean the kid and then it stood up. As soon as this tiny rickety set of legs stood up, the entire herd relaxed and turned to other matters. All was well.

I move the kids to a corner of the pen where they can safely lie under a heat lamp. Picking them up was like picking up bony kittens with really long legs.

Did I mention how quickly they walked?

This is a difference between the archetypal Prey and Predator. Prey babies get up and walk otherwise they won’t eat or they’ll be eaten. Predators take their time nurturing their helpless progeny. Suckling them. Protecting them. Teaching them.

I can’t help but wonder at the helplessness of human babies. Prey or predator? Victim or perpetrator.

The gift of knowledge means we can choose.

And we can choose neither.