Sustaining Stories


Bernadette Colfer

Munch and I had never seen eye to eye. He would glare at me suspiciously whenever I approached him. He has been part of our family since we moved to Monalea way back in 2008. He was a great addition to the family, the best landscaper you could find. He cleared all the weeds, and there were many, ate everything in sight and made light work of nettles, thistles and just about anything that grew wild.

When we built our house, almost all the finance was ploughed into the build without much left for outdoors. It was a large site that had previously been a farm with a lot of animals coming and going and as a result, it needed a big clean up. So Munch worked for his living. All he needed was food, shelter and space to roam. Even as a kid, Munch looked like an old goat! He had a meg to start with, that soon grew into a full-length beard. He had a long face and curly horns, which he used often when something got in his way. His expression never changed much… always gruff! He looked much like the senior Billy Goat Gruff. Although he wasn’t pretty or even handsome, he had something majestic about him, confident and unapologetic.

Since he arrived as a young kid, he appeared to be distrustful of me and yet allowed any males in the family to approach him. As a result, I just did the necessary dosing a couple of times a year and performed a pedicure every few months. He required very little maintenance but as he got older, I could see that he had slowed down a lot. He was still doing his work but appeared to have difficulty walking.

Our vet agreed with me that it could be arthritis and so I started him on anti- inflammatories and painkillers, which seemed to do the trick and allowed him to move with ease. Soon after, Munch developed a cough and appeared to be having difficulty breathing. This turned out to be pneumonia and it was time for antibiotics. Again, he recovered well and was soon back to normal.

Every morning I would look out and see Munch in the field or, if it was raining, I would hear him, as he hated the rain and would go in under his shelter. He and Ben (our pony) were good friends and seemed to look out for each other! I was conscious that goats usually only reach their late teens and so, over the past couple of months, I always felt a slight panic when I looked out and didn’t see or hear him.

Then the morning finally came when he wasn’t visible in the field and no sound came from his shelter. Anxiously, I hurried down to see where he was, and with every step I took, my stomach sank. When I saw him lying peacefully in his bed, I felt utterly bereft! The next day, with a heavy heart, I buried Munch. Ben looked sad all alone and I know he missed his pal.

A few days after, two baby goats arrived, unexpectedly. They had been roaming around the country for days and no one knew where they had come from. None of the local farmers owned them and so Nicholas bundled them into his car and brought them home from his workplace. Pure white and full of fun, they appeared to be twins, but one of them had a badly broken leg that looked serious. I took them to the vet the next day and when he looked at the leg, he asked if I would like to have him put to sleep there and then, or the next day!

I was horrified at the suggestion. The vet noticed my reaction and pointed out that it was so badly broken, it was unlikely that he could recover. I was willing to give

it a try. And so, the nursing began. Daily bandaging, manuka honey, antibiotics and strict orders to stay still. The latter was the difficult part. After about three weeks, I could see we were making progress and within the month, he was running around next to his brother with not a care in the world.

I cannot imagine life without them now, but boy do they keep me busy! Scapegoat is a term I’ve used many times and now I realise where it came from. They are like Houdini and will escape from just about anywhere. They are always looking for a way out, even if they have what they want. When they get out of their patch, I try to secure them and they will then instantly try to get back in! Wherever they are, they want to be somewhere else. They have no boundaries or fear and they certainly believe that the grass is greener on the other side! They climb up on the hay bales and jump off, they run under Ben’s belly and around him. They make me laugh with their antics, I’m never sure if the headbutting and locking horns is playing or fighting!

They also make me very cross when I look out and they are nowhere to be seen. I’ve spent many mornings searching for both of them, since they always stay together. To make it easier to find them, I attached little brass bells to their collars. Now I just listen when they are out of sight and within seconds, I hear the ding-a-ling and I know which direction to go. As soon as they see me, they come running. Some things come along at just the right time and it makes you wonder……..

BERNADETTE COLFER lives in Monalea along with her son and daughter and is surrounded by nature. Reading has always been her passion and now she might add writing to that!

Read more sustaining stories

The Dubs ( by: Bernie Walsh )
Munch ( by: Bernadette Colfer )
The Precious Little Black Honey Bee (by: Bruce Copeland)
The Gooseberry Bush (by: Rona Fleming)
Zaventem (by: Joy Redmond)
The Longest Journey (by Patrick O’Neill)
I Can Fly (by Jacinta Hayes)
The Marquee (by Kieran Tyrrell)
Ten Minutes (by Jacinta McGovern)
The Turkey is in the Post (by Lucy Nolan)

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