Archive for the ‘Pan’ Category

On drunken goats

Tis the season of the drunken goat.
For weeks the cider apple trees hung heavy with their fruity delights, boughs just out of reach of the greedy goats who live in the orchard. But now the apples have started to fall.
As well as the orchard, the goats have 3 acres of wildflower meadows, which you might think, in summer, would be like a human living with an ‘all you can eat’ gourmet restaurant in the kitchen. But no. Apparently this is not enough for 5 goats. The first thud of an apple on to the ground marked a greed fuelled frenzy, worse than humans queueing for a new phone.
« Apple! Apple! Apple! »
Pushing, trampling, shoving, butting: « Maaaaaaaaaaa, I NEED that apple! Maaaaaaa! I cannot live without that apple! I have always dreamt of an apple like that. My life will be over if that apple is not MINE! »

But over time things changed. There were many apples littering the ground. Apples had become boring.

« Apple. Yawwwwwwn. Been there, done apples. Pfffft. »

Until… something magical happened.
« Apple…Sigh. I suppose I have to eat it. I won’t like it, but since you, two-legged one, won’t give me carrots, if I don’t eat it, I’ll probably starve to death. SIGH again (and bigger this time). »
Goat rolls apple into mouth with a long-suffering expression, tail hanging low, ‘sheep-style’…
But then…

« Oh…Oooooooohhhh…Ahhhhhh… » Wide beatific, goatish smile. The apples are fermenting.

Drunken goats, like drunken humans don’t all fall into one category.
Bazil, my horizontally laid back Rasta-goat, becomes Mr. Chatty and Opinionated. Lazy days chewing Armorican carrots and dozing amongst buttercups and dandelions are forgotten, as he attempts to share his views on everything from the latest in fleece shearing styles to the effects of climate change on water levels in his drinking pond.
Molly and Daisy, by contrast, are merry drunks. They dance horn in horn, tunelessly singing ‘Mrs McGinty’s Goat’ and giggling uproariously at secret in-jokes, to which the other goats are not privy.
Dixie is a show off drunk.

« Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! » as he balances precariously on a rocky pinnacle.

« LOOOOOOK at MEEEEEEE » as he attempts to mimic Moroccan climbing goats by leaping on top of his manger.

« MEEEEEEEEE! » as he gets his head stuck trying to squeeze through a space in the fence that can just about accommodate a cat…

And Muppet…Queen Muppet, the elderly matriarch…She is a bellicose drunk.

« What? What? Do you have a problem? » She gallops up fiercely to poor giggling Molly, her own daughter, and butts her.
« And you? What are you looking at? » Dixie gets pushed off his balancing rock.

Then she spots an apple tree. It’s giving her a funny look.

BUTT! She charges it head on. BUTT!

« Apologise! » She glares at the offending apple tree. « Or you’ll be sorry. »
The apple tree drops an apple by way of apology and Muppet is appeased.

One would think that being drunk all day, at some point a hangover would kick in. But this doesn’t seem to be the case (lesson in this?) Each morning, I find the goats still drunk, having continued to gorge on fermenting apples all night, and then swigged a hair of the dog (or ‘fleece of the goat’ as it’s known in goatish flocks) at dawn. No ill effects appear to be felt…even after head butting apple trees…

And… one final observation… They are not just drunk. They are DRUNKS.

Many apples lie on the ground. Some are fresh and crisp, the sort of apples that only a couple of weeks ago they would have savoured. But now these are discarded. Long noses are turned up in disdain as they root out the most rotten ones…those with the highest alcohol content.

A day will come when the drunken season is over, when the last of the apples has rotted too far. But maybe…if they’re lucky, there could still be a few liberty caps growing in the orchard…

Dionysos was raised in the form of a goat after all……..

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Dixie-Goat winking at me

Yesterday evening, I was mugged by a goat for a lollipop.
Not what you and I might call a lollipop, admittedly, but in the world of goats, it was a lollipop, and an exceptionally delicious one at that – A mineral lick! – A stone full of all sorts of goatish delights, and a highly prized object if you’re a goat.

I tried to sneak into their field with it. I know my goats, and know them to be greedy (one in particular…), so waited until they were out of sight behind some trees and rocks. All was peaceful. A dove cooed softly from the branches of an apple tree. A gentle breeze stroked the leaves. Very carefully, I lifted the chain from the gate and eased it open. I crept in. All was still calm. I felt rather pleased with my sneaky success as I placed the mineral lick on the ground and began to cut it out of its wrapper…

« BADABOOM BADABOOM BADABOOM BADABOOM » The sound of thundering hooves, galloping across the orchard behind me.

« Maaa Maaaaaaaa Maaaaaaaaa MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA  Lollipop! LOOOLLIPOP! »

« No! Wait! Wait! » I call out in vain, as I scramble to pull off the last of the wrapper.

But my goats have been transformed into five horned and hooved Usain Bolts. They arrive in a greedy mass of hot bodies, stamping feet and hard horns.

« STOP! » I use my fiercest voice. I am meant to be the head goat around here after all.

« Maahaahahahah » They laugh as one.

I grab the plastic wrapper, (if I leave it, I know they’ll eat it) and pulling horns and pushing bodies, manage to escape the melée. The gate is only a few yards away…

A few yards too far. « Oooph » I am butted…

« Maahaahaaahaaahaaaaa! » The goats roar with laughter.

I spin round. Standing in front of me, with a huge grin on his face, is Dixie-goat, the naughtiest goat I have ever known.

« What do you think you’re doing? » I glare fiercely. « That hurt! »

« Maahaahaahaahaa! » The rest of the goats are ignoring their mineral lick now and instead enjoying the entertainment.

« Pfft! » Dixie snorts with derision.

« You won’t be getting another mineral lick, if that’s how you say thank you! »

Dixie turns his head to one side and surveys me with a haughty expression. « I believe you. NOT! Maaaahaaahaaahaahaa! » He steps back and rears up. « Play with me! » he commands.

I back away. « Remember last year? Remember the morning I found you dangling upside down trapped by your hind leg in the fence wire? Who was it that rescued you?» I try another tack. « And when you were a little kid, who made sure that you got food when the big goats bullied you? » I continue to back away.

Dixie eyes me skeptically. « You two legs talk a lot of silly nonsense! »

« Daisy looks like she’s enjoying that mineral lick. » I change tack again, staring very blatantly across at the other goats.

Dixie stops in his tracks, all thoughts of butting games forgotten.

« MINE! Maaa-ine! MAAAA-ine! »

There is one thing that trumps playing – FOOD! And if someone else is eating it, he wants it.

The other goats scatter as he charges back over to the ‘lollipop’, bleating indignantly. I escape.

This morning, I look over my shoulder in the mirror – One perfect, blue, horn-shaped bruise…A butt on the butt. Mugged by a goat for a lollipop…

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Summer has arrived in Armorica! The air is shimmering with butterflies and iridescent dragonflies, contented bees hum a ground bass to the chorus of softly cooing wood-pigeons and exuberant newly fledged song birds, whilst in the meadows, grasshoppers, cicadas and crickets are dancing…And hidden deep within the forest canopy, the golden orioles pipe…
There is magic in the air. The fluttering, shivering leaves are calling to me…

So…this afternoon I followed the call into the forest.

I have a special place there, a secluded glade, inaccessible other than by a small track leading from behind my cider apple orchard. No other path leads there, no wanderer in the forest might stumble upon it by accident…
My path is made by the deer (red and roe), the wild boar, the foxes and the badgers, and latterly by me. It winds through oak and beech forest into this clearing, in the centre of which stands a single very old apple tree.
I follow the path… and stop, just before I enter the glade. I listen. Birdsong, softly rustling leaves…The outside world has gone. No distant rumble of a motorway, no grumbling drone of a plane, none of the white noise/human-debris buzz that you don’t even realise is there, until it’s not…

I move slowly forward. A cloud of butterflies wafts up around me as I walk, billowing up from the carpet of flowers.
Around the apple tree, the grass is flattened into round dents. The deer sleep here. Come softly to this glade in the evening and they’re here, dark eyed and timorous, accutely sensitive to humans.

No photo of this glade here…It’s a place that belongs to something not to be photographed…Something that touches the numinous…

I lie down in the cool grass and gaze up through the branches of the apple tree…Quert/Queirt…
If you’ve read any previous blogs, you will have seen mention of Quasnon/Couesnon, the Fairy Queen, whose domain is a rocky palace that looks down upon the forest. Q is an odd letter in the Celtic tongues. In the Irish Auraicept Na nEces, it’s commented that ‘where C stands before U it is Queirt that is to be written there’.

The letters CU together are a synonym for « warrior », as in Cuchulain. (from the word ‘cu’ meaning hound or wolf).

When you read the word warrior, ‘cu’, substitute Queirt. The apple tree is the spiritual warrior, a tree symbolising the sacrifice of the warrior/magician making the journey to the Otherworld and back. ( « The Spirit of the Greenwood. »..)…and for me, it is a connection to Quasnon/Couesnon.

I lie back…the leaves flutter softly…and far above a buzzard wheels and cries…The oriole pipes again…I blink beneath the shafts of light slanting down between the branches, dappling the forest floor…Something moves…Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glance…just behind a tree…I see a shadow, catch the dark, potent tang of a stag in the wind…I hear the softest of footfalls…

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