Ten years ago today, we wandered through a shopping center near where I'd grown up, looking for a few Christmas presents for some people. We'd flown up to Detroit for my father's funeral, which would need to wait until the day after Christmas. It proved an interesting time, lots of feelings of bitter-sweet. We'd not all been together as a family at the same time for, oh, a long time, eight years or so. It was the last time I saw the house I grew up in, because we cleaned it out and sold it during that family get together.
My Dad once said to me that on Christmas Eve, the animals can speak to celebrate the Christ Child's birth. We both knew that to be legend, and we were talking about that because Ruthie and I had started raising goats. The year before that comment, he'd sent a present of cash to replace the metel shed we'd been housing the, at that time, seven goats in. It was one of those garden sheds you can get at any garden center, and because it wasn't anchored to the ground if a big enough wind came along it would lift the shed off the goats. Dad figured out how much one of those would cost, and sent that to us.
We had some other building supplies here already, and his gift allowed me to purchase the parts we needed to put up a small pole barn instead of a small metel shed. It measured 10 by 20 feet, providing shelter not only from rain but also from most wind and definitely north wind. We named it the John and Rita Macheski Barn for Barnless Goats, made a sign, and photographed a ribbon-eating ceremony when we completed it. Mom loved that photo; Dad probably chuckled over it too. He did appreciate becoming a philanthropist, and told me, "I've never had a building named for me before."
That barn lasted about 15 years, despite having the posts beaten on and broken by horny buck goats trying to impress each other. But it blew down last year during Hurricane Frances. About 15 goats were trapped under it. Several goats died before we could go get them out. There's more goats now; this year's kidding replaced them, and the Winter Kidding is just starting.
I think I'll go out and listen to them talking tonight.