My parents have goats on their property just west of Dripping Springs. The goats have names, which makes them part of the family.
This story is about a goat named Cookie and her daughter named Cookie-Ballah. Cookie-Ballah, who is an adult goat, never left her mother’s side. Anywhere Cookie was, Cookie-Ballah would be spotted within feet of her. Cookie was recently pregnant again and had a couple of new babies. (The babies do not have names because my parents won’t be keeping them.) Cookie was taking care of her new babies, and Cookie-Ballah was nearby. When one of the babies went to nurse on Cookie, Cookie-Ballah attacked the baby. Cookie immediately responded in kind to Cookie-Ballah, in defense of her new baby. After Cookie attacked her, Cookie-Ballah started to walk away. She took a few steps towards the larger herd and then stopped and looked back at her mother. She took another few steps and stopped again to look back at her mother. She continued taking a few steps and looking back at her mother until she entered the mix with the herd, separated from her mother for the first time since her birth.
My heart ached for Cookie-Ballah as Mom told me this story. These animals are just like us. They love and get hurt. They feel pride and shame. (If you don’t believe me that goats feel shame, ask me about Pumpkin and his horns. You’ll believe me then.) They hurt others when they don’t mean to. And when their hearts are broken, they walk away slowly, looking back in disbelief as though to ask, “Are you sure I have to go?”
I trust when Cookie is done nursing her new babies, she will connect again with Cookie-Ballah. But I hurt for Cookie-Ballah until then. She’s just sitting with the herd, waiting for the one she loves most to want her close again.