Life was certainly interesting with Heidi around. In her underweight condition, she was roughly 150 lbs. Capri, who was my second biggest animal on the farm at the time, weighed only 130 lbs. Heidi frequently used brute strength to bully the others away from the hay manger, and sometimes even out of the barn altogether. Her instincts were in overdrive, and she was trying to eat as much food as possible. All other creatures were looked upon as competition for food, and she was determined to climb her way to the top of pecking order, and keep all the food to herself. I kept the 8’ long, 3’ wide, and 4’ deep hay manger full at all times, but that didn’t deter her from aggressively commandeering the entire structure. Capri and Ivy rebelled towards this big, white goat. Fights broke out. Heads became bloodied. Heidi was like a ticking time bomb; you were always waiting for the moment of explosion.
Each day I tried to tame my new wild girl. It was late December now, and she was due to kid in February. I needed her to be calm and trusting enough by then, that I could milk her. Despite my daily efforts, Heidi remained stubbornly introverted. She was untouchable, and flighty; insecure and distrustful. At times, I could see a spark of something different flickering in her eyes. As if perhaps she wanted to trust me. But those moments were fleeting; lasting only a minute or two before being once more veiled in doubt. I tried feeding her choice tidbits by hand, I tried brushing her, I tried talking to her without making eye contact; I tried everything I could think of! I don’t know what her past was like, and most likely never will, but something obviously happened to her that caused her life to shatter. What I beheld now were shards: Broken, seemingly irreparable, cracked, destroyed… And yet, amidst the ruin I saw beauty. Even broken glass will still reflect light. I felt like there was still hope for her, if I could only figure out how to reach her. How do you try and make a goat understand that she is finally safe, and will not be abused again?
As I watched and cared for her in the following weeks, my memory was still trying to figure out why her story seemed so familiar. Why was I perpetually haunted by the look in her eyes? The answer was on the tip of my tongue, and yet forever dancing just out of reach. Like trying to remember the name of your first childhood friend, or your favorite candle scent when you were young, such memories can be hard to resurrect, but they’re there; hovering in the back of your mind.
The answer to my plaguing question dawned on me one afternoon as I watched Heidi in frustration. I had just spent the last couple of hours groveling for her attention but it was to no avail. The Nubians circled me like land sharks during this time; eager for affection and back scratches, but I waved them off. I wanted Heidi. Couldn’t she see that? Couldn’t she see that I wanted to hold her, scratch her behind the ears, and be her leader? I was frustrated to the point of being angry. She wouldn’t open up to anyone! She no longer trusted humans! What happened to cause her to lose faith?! That’s when it hit me. As if punched in the stomach, I gasped, and had to sit down on the damp ground as the realization dawned on me.
Why did her looks of fear and mistrust seem so vaguely familiar? Why did I feel like I had seen it all before? It was so obvious that I missed it until now:
I was seeing a mirror of myself.
Resentment, bitterness, pride, fear, pain… When I looked upon Heidi for the first time, and saw those emotions fleetingly pass through her, I was unconsciously harking back to my own memories of the same feelings. I bought her, wondering why she seemed so familiar to me, and now, in a dumbstruck manner, realized that I was seeing my own reflection in a four-legged animal. I understood her now...
This has been really helping me, to post parts of my book on here. :) Makes me write it faster!