The Pastoral Muse

Goats on the hillside in Vermont. Photo by Anne Buchanan

Goats on the hillside in Vermont. Photo by Anne Buchanan

It has been some time since we first found an article in this publication, which we have continued following. There is at least one emerging pattern to explain why we keep going back: every article has an image that transports us, that makes us want to go see the who, what and where of the description:

…Jennifer and her husband Melvin work Polymeadows Farm, a small goat dairy farm and dairy plant in Vermont. They are currently milking about 120 goats. During kidding season, twice a year, the newborns spend their first night in a barrel of hay in the kitchen. This is important during Vermont winters, but also in summer, so that Jennifer knows the kids are healthy before they go out and join the rest.

My sister and I live very different lives. She’s a dairy goat farmer and I do genetics research at Penn State University in the middle of Pennsylvania. I spend much of my day at a computer in my small office, or sometimes in the genetics lab that I manage, and she spends her days outdoors, haying, watering and graining her goats, bottle-feeding the babies, milking the dams, or in the dairy plant making cheese or yogurt and bottling milk.

I go up to the farm as often as I can, sometimes three or four times a year. The days there are endless in the way that the long summer days of childhood are, capped by the kind of exhaustion that overtakes you when you haven’t remembered to pace yourself. Which you don’t as a child, because why would you? And at the farm you can’t because there is always more to do.

When I’m there, the day ends for me only when I’m too tired to do any more, but often for Jennifer (and always for her husband Melvin) the day doesn’t end until well after midnight, when the last of the goats has been milked, the milking machine sterilised and the milking parlour hosed down, the barn checked for newborns, the yogurt put to bed…

Read the whole article here.

4 thoughts on “The Pastoral Muse

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