Brad Kessler, MFA
I saw how so many aspects of our everyday culture—from our alphabet to our diet to elements of our economy and poetry—arose from a lifestyle of herding hoofed animals, and how unbeknownst to most of us, pastoralism still informs so much of the way we live today. Goats had intrigued me for years—their intelligence, their seeming disdain of human dominion. I once trailed a herd of goats in India through the Thar Desert back to their homes at night.
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A herder led them into the walled city of Jaisalmer. The goats marched single file, hoofs clicking cobbles, while scooters and trucks squeezed past. At each narrow curve another doe broke from the parade and turned in to a home where a member of the household—a child or a woman—held open a wooden door and greeted the returning goat with a palmful of salt.
The does had returned from the desert to be milked and bedded with their family at night. She brought home the raw milk still warm in a glass bottle. I made a queso blanco, the simplest cheese in the world. The queso blanco was tasty but a bit rubbery. I had a small bottle of rennet and the right starter culture. The curds set up overnight and the next day I drained them in a cheesecloth. It seemed we were eating not a cheese, but a meadow.
A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese
That afternoon we were intoxicated without drinking a thing. Was it the raw unpasteurized milk, or that we knew the goats—their labor and ours?
Who has not sometimes derived an inexpressible satisfaction from his food, in which appetite had no share? I have been inspired through the palate. She was a chemist and cheesemaker who lived across the border in New York State. It was May and the lilacs were in bloom. Mary Beth swung open the metal gate to her paddock. She was wearing green Wellington boots. Mary Beth raised American Nubian goats.
She bred them not only for the butterfat in their milk—good for cheese—but for their size. Hers were large goats, tall, long-legged— ladylike was her term.
They stood on a hill in her field, twelve does and one enormous buck, each copper or ecru with black spots or stripes or airbrushed belts of caramel and white. Long white ears framed their faces like large parentheses. They were not like the goats I learned about as a child, the ragged white and bearded nanny and billy who licked tin cans. These were all coffee and cream and mocha. Elegant creatures.
Book review: "Goat Song" | NCPR News
The sun dipped from a cloud and bathed them in amber. A watercolor of goats. We could hear newborn kids calling from the barn. We wanted to start our herd slowly, with two kids and two yearlings, and gradually build our numbers. Mary Beth ushered us into her barn. A swarm of kids rushed the gate. They bleated and nickered and pooled around our legs, lifted tiny hoofs to our knees. Mary Beth bottle-raised them all, which explained their excitement over us. They followed us around like puppies—a tide of wagging tails.
Dona squatted and a kid leaped into her lap. A small one sucked my finger. Most were brown but one sported white polka dots and another was eggplant black with a buttery undercarriage—she looked like an Italian loafer. Mary Beth had saved these two for us; she knew Dona worked in black and white. I went outside to look at the yearlings. The does were grazing down the hill. They raised heads and watched as I approached. The yearlings were easy to tell from the adults: smaller, with twiggy legs, a teenage awkwardness.
https://viptarif.ru/wp-content/map8.php A pair broke from the pack and loped toward me. One was golden with a satin coat; the other mahogany with orange and black face stripes. Their long white ears flapped when they trotted. They ran across the meadow like flying nuns. The golden doe shoved her head into my palm and demanded a scratch. The mahogany turned her face toward mine.
The golden doe closed her eyes and made an odd purring sound. The mahogany one studied me, unconvinced. I walked. They followed. Then they both reared in perfect choreography and balanced on back legs and twisted heads to the right.
For a second their forelegs hung suspended in the air, then they crashed down skull to skull. You could hear the knock of bones, like billiard balls. When they had enough play the golden doe came over for another scratch, then they browsed again. Halfway back to the barn they exploded into an epileptic run. They kicked legs out to the sides, flung heads, spun bodies. A caper.
Related Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese
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