This is our annual retreat in the convent where our daughter, Sister Mary, is celebrating her 18th year as a professed nun. It’s our version of a guest ranch vacation with the convent grounds surrounded by farms and woodlands, minimal traffic of mud-spattered pickups and farm machinery on the gravel road, the noisiest neighbors being dairy cows a piece up the road, hoofbeats of horses in a field leased from the convent, an occasional evening conversation among coyotes, and the periodic exclamations of the convent rooster.
Besides a vegetable garden, the nuns have a flock of chickens and a small herd of goats, and thus fresh eggs, goat’s milk, yogurt, and several flavors of goat cheese. Two of the additions to the herd this spring were Mooskin and Mouskin—who came by their names this way:
Sister Agnes, the goat’s “midwife,” had a nightmare, about the time “Pansy” was due, that the birth was frighteningly difficult and she delivered a moose instead of a goat. When Pansy was delivered of twins a few days later, the first one turned out to be the largest ever delivered here, large enough to need some midwifely assistance (but not of the nightmarish sort), so he was named Mooskin. His twin, being noticeably smaller, was named Mouskin. At this point, only Sister Agnes can tell them apart. Mooskin, a buck not being needed here, will soon have a new home with someone’s larger herd. However, the sisters cannot bear to part with both, so Mouskin will become a wether as well as a pet, can live with the does, and serve as companion to the buck which the sisters borrow for breeding—this because goats are herd animals, not meant to be solitary. The sisters don’t want their visiting buck to feel lonely between his “dates.”