If it can’t have its mother’s milk, the next best thing for a buffalo baby is fresh goat’s milk. That means getting a goat. And so we were blessed with Adrianna. She has tried her best to eat all Jean’s roses, though she has to compete with the massive ground squirrel population which has the advantage of being able to run free. She has managed to make inroads into some aspen and willow as well before being rounded up, protesting loudly.
She gives nearly a gallon a day. Jean is to be found morning and evening, head leaning against her side, patiently milking one teat, then the other. Adrianna races to her milking station and eagerly puts her head in the stall, in effect saying milk me milk me milk me please! As Jean milks away a look of great contentment comes across both man and goat. It is a peaceful time.
As soon as the pail is full and Adrianna is empty, we pour the milk into a rather large “baby” bottle and within minutes 2 quarts are down the gullet of a demanding little bison mouth, open and pouting in its urgent desire. Aspen and willow and roses into goat; goat into goat’s milk, goats milk into buffalo…..
Roses into buffalo is one of the millions of variations of the endless truth – we are all part of one another. We see this once we step back to allow a wider perspective.
Living here by the Grand Tetons we see the winter snows fall on the Tetons, sometimes ever so gently, sometimes in howling blizzards. In the spring that snowmelt rushes by us in South Leigh Creek, watering the wildlife corridor that runs through our property, giving life to the trees which are home to communities of bird and insect, plants and fungi (and morels). It gives fresh cold oxgenated water to the native cutthroat trout as it rushes down to meet the Teton River; then the Snake River, then the Columbia and the Pacific Ocean and back again to the mountains in the form of summer thunderstorms and long slow autumn rains and then the winter snows. Our well water comes directly from the mountains and we and the animals become part of the cycle as the mountain water circles through our blood.
There‘s a different kind of cycle here too. We have reason to believe that Adrianna was not happy in the home from which she came. Because we were given the gift of a white buffalo calf, Adrianna now has a loving home in which she is clearly very satisfied (except she would prefer more roses thank you). So the gift of a calf to Earthfire became a gift to Adrianna, and Adrianna gave the gift of rich nutritious milk to the calf who loves it and everyone is happy and thriving.
And furthermore… Introducing Adrianna!! by Jenn ReinAdrianna wasn’t so accepting at first. Found in Blackfoot, Idaho, Adrianna was a member of a small herd of goats. There were only four of them, and this was not a working farm. Her owners were simply goat hobbyists. We wondered why they would want to unload a goat from such a small herd. One day while in town waiting for a milkshake at the local soda fountain I met a member of the family that sold Adrianna to Earthfire. This teen girl was adamant about the goat’s personality. “She’s ornery. I didn’t like her at all. She was our least favorite of all of the goats. That’s why we unloaded her.” I was incredulous. Our wonderful Adrianna? It is true that in the beginning, she was reluctant to share her milk with a bison. Their enclosures are adjacent, and she would even head butt the barrier between herself and the little buffalo baby. This stage came and went very quickly as Adrianna adapted to her new life. And as we became familiar with this new, important Earthfire resident, it became clear that as a Swiss Oberhalsi goat, her temperament was true to her breed. These are reportedly quiet and sweet natured goats, but alert and intelligent as well. Never would we describe Adrianna as “ornery”. Her sweetness and vocalizations are very endearing. She adores attention from humans, and now even accepts it from her charge – the baby bison lays against the fencing that separates them, and the creature that is nourishing her daily returns the favor by leaning and then finally succumbing and laying down in friendship. She has a spark to that goat personality of hers – an individualistic way of handling her current situation that perhaps means that she didn’t belong in that small herd. Maybe the perception of her being a difficult goat was due to the fact that she had already redefined how she wanted to be treated – and the family that had her before simply didn’t catch on. She likes to jump up on her hind hooves, position herself on the fencing that makes up her enclosure, bring herself eye to eye with the human bringer of affection, and kiss them gently on the nose. Ornery? This word was derived by jumping to conclusions about her behavior, not trying to figure out who she really was. Now, as she embraces her vocation here at Earthfire as provider and companion to our special white buffalo calf, she will again redefine the word “goat” and simply be Adrianna to us all.