"It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude -- in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old." Catherine Doherty

Thursday, April 4, 2013

EASTER! And the goat invasion...

Easter has come to The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center.

Viva Christo Rey!

The cards and well wishes began to pour in as we prepared for happy visits from friends and family, as well as joyous celebrations at our local parish with inspired homilies by our parish Priest.

Among the Divine Mercy Novenas started on Good Friday, the completion of our 33 day consecration to Jesus through Mary, the many other prayers and events here, our retreatant, a happy Nun from the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart in Baltimore helped to set up the Easter morning display that most excited the 
six year old.

It was truly a joyous Easter here, but with one added element.


Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

10 of them.

We knew they were coming, we had arranged for them to arrive later in April, but events changed and suddenly we had another Easter gift!

So, one fine Spring morning, a typical Vermont "mud season" day,

(between the snow flakes) I arose to prepare for what could no longer be avoided. I had prayed in several chapels, hoping for better  reception each time, asking if this is what God willed for us. When the transportation element we needed was offered by surprise at the last minute, I accepted His will. With the help of two young local farm girls the stalls and barns were well prepared.

We certainly had the room for them but I needed to build a sort of chute that once released from the transportation trailer would guide the seething mass of goat flesh through our long maze like barns towards their individual stalls. They were coming from a situation where they were accustomed to certain herd groupings. Once the chute was hastily thrown together,

we began the drive towards the goat location in Troy, VT, after informing Sr. Loretta she would be taking part in the goat wrangling!
She thought I was joking.

Our drive was uneventful except the mud and driveway which created quite a series of issues in successfully navigating close to the barns in Troy.

After a few hours of prep and supply loading and a lengthy chase of one determined escapee goat, we managed to get them all loaded.
This is almost the whole herd, Aaron the only male, the buck, got to ride in the car with Sr. Loretta and Cathy, to avoid any hanky panky on the trip. 

So with a few deep breaths a lots of pushing of cars through mud we splattered our way and our precious cargo across Northeast Vermont to an even more daunting driveway, ours..
with its winding hills and dales leading to the barn. Once the trailer was backed up to the wide entrance of the chute, which narrows gently towards the stalls (thank you Temple Grandin) we released the goats! All hands were on deck to chase after escapees and steer the flurry of tiny hooves through the maze to the stalls. All as gently and lovingly as possible!

add captions like, "wait, c'm here you" or "hold on, stop her" or "come out of there you" or "NO go in there you", etc; punctuated by heavy breathing, mostly on my part.

Alright, it was time to show these goats who was in charge!

THEM! I'll go in the stall, it's safer!

OK, enough fooling around, time to get these gals to bed.

So far everything is going well. Considering what I know about goats comes from the "Dummies Guide" and local REAL farmers.
But the are eating well, exploring the pasture (waiting for the snow to melt) and being very friendly and docile. 
Here's a bit of the rogues gallery:

And the big man of the harem is the buck, Aaron.

This female enjoying a brushing is going to have a baby in next month,...the goat not Cathy.

So soon we will begin with our dairy work. Nigerian Dwarf goats have a high butter fat content so we will be making cream, yogurt, cheese and other fresh dairy for our future retreatants.

It's a good thing the herding dog was on duty that day,

oh yeah, that's right she was in the house sleeping in my chair, nice.

So we continue our work at the Mary Theotokos Retreat Center, we hope to see you for a Marian Consecration Retreat or Poustinia or goat wrangling, or just a visit to get away from the chaos of the world; at any rate we will be here, but now it's time for me to take back that chair from the dog.

Deus Tecum

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday