One of my favorite stops on my summer travels was in Bozeman, MT and as the area is ripe with predatory animals and my dog is the epitome of small, delectable prey, I looked to Airbnb for alternative (to camping or an expensive hotel) accommodations. And so it was that Cooper and I found ourselves staying in an old sheepherder’s wagon on a working farm.
We were greeted by Buster, a bottle raised sheep who had free rein over the farm. He likes grass, dandelions, ear scratches and Cooper. He was immediately enamored with my canine companion and greeted him with nuzzles and love. Coop was, to put it mildly, not amused, but tried to be a good sport.
I stayed in several Airbnb digs throughout my travels and despite being a bit off the beaten path, found them much more social than some of the crowded campgrounds. It was intimate social. My hosts invited me to dinner on my first night with the family staying in the other wagon and a couple who was parking their RV on the farm for the summer. Buster also came. I met a young man traveling up from Albuquerque and shared a campfire with a couple from Billings.
In the mornings, Cooper and I would walk around the farm and say hello to all the animals; pigs, a cow named George (there were many cows but he was the friendliest), sheep, donkey, and chickens everywhere. Buster usually tagged along. We drove into the mountains to escape the mid-day heat and relax by the cool Galatin River.
John Steinbeck wrote, “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” Montana has a magic to it and I have a love for its big sky and looming mountains.
On my second night, I was invited to watch the birth of a goat. I stood in the barn as the mother panted and moaned until two small hooves and a nose appeared and then out she came into the world! I watched with mixed admiration and disgust as the mother quickly began to eat the placenta and clean off her new little girl. Apparently there is a sound that goats only make when they are talking to their young and I listened to her delivering what I can only assume were wise and loving motherly words. Then she sat back down and delivered another one. A sister.
Animals passed by the dusty barn door, occasionally stopping to see what was happening before moving on. A chicken came in followed by her day old chick to pick at the leftover birth. Two sisters took their first steps as mom continued to clean and nurture. I felt so much at that moment that this is life; beautiful, sometimes gross.