This holiday season found those of us who are internationals in Kabul with a heightened security threat and not much to do in the way of entertaining ourselves. We had to create our own holiday spirit.
Alyssa, who had just moved into our residence at the time, decided that above everything else her top priority was that she must get goats, and that they would be a cheerful gift to all of us to lift our spirits for the holidays. She told us that having her own goats was her life’s dream and that here we were with a “goat-less” PARSA Farm, so we needed to find some.
Mina, who likes the idea of the farm but hadn’t quite extended her comfort level far enough to actually touch any of the animals, made the goats her personal character-building challenge, so she was on board. (Check out Mina’s series of selfies of her almost touching a cow). Reese just found the whole thing entertaining and decided he was on board, too.
I protested half-heartedly by dragging out my favorite Dari quote: “If you don’t have enough troubles, buy a goat”. – “We DO have enough troubles!” I insisted, but the protest fell on deaf ears.
A trip to the Shomali plain animal bazaar was organized a few days before Xmas and off our team went on their adventure to purchase goats. Four hours later, Alyssa came home elated with two small kids in her arms, and after much deliberation we all agreed on the names “Wilma and Fred”.
Reese and Alyssa dressed them in animal finery, complete with Bamiyan jewelry and Kuchi decorations and put them in the backyard for the afternoon, with Alyssa completely enchanted by the fact that they had adopted her as their “goat mother”, following her around wherever she went and bleating loudly if she left their sight for longer than 30 seconds.
The reality that we had just added two GOATS to our household finally hit me as I looked out my bedroom window and realized that we were already overrun with 12 dogs and 3 cats, and I began asking her what her plans for housing them were. Animal politics are already very complicated at our house as not all animals get along and require certain animals such as our large mastif, Sherak, to have special runs and places to live.
“Don’t worry!” Alyssa said happily, “they will stay in my room with me!” She made a comfortable place in her bathroom for them for the night and as far as she was concerned all problems were solved. The next morning a dreadful stench wafted from her room when she came out for breakfast and she reported that she never would have guessed that two adorable baby animals could generate so much poop and cause so much destruction in a room.
On the third day of her goat program – after spending hours on two successive mornings shoveling poop out of her bathroom – she decided to move them to one of the cow enclosures on the farm to join the baby cows and Rumi, our sheep. Having tasted the “good life”, Fred and Wilma were not at all interested in the prospect of hanging out with farm animals, and constantly escaped the daily walks with their comrades to roam areas of their own choosing – often causing our staff great headaches in trying to get them back.
Then Wilma caught a goat cold and they both acquired warm sweatshirts with hoodies. The farm staff finally got fed up with having to spend their days chasing goats dressed up in children’s clothing and jewelry, and so ousted them from the farm in frustration. So back up to the house they came! Wasse and Nasir, secretly amused by the whole venture, finally took pity on Alyssa and built her a small “goat bedroom” outside her own room so that she would no longer have to use her room as a barn. She was relieved!
Fred and Wilma are now quite settled in. They keep Alyssa very busy and have become a focal point for my general anxiety. As I walk home from work each day they see me and run too the fence, bleating loudly, and I begin sending worried texts to Alyssa:
“Wilma is yelling. Should I put her in your room?”
“Alyssa, the goats are cold and Fred lost his coat.”
“Alyssa, where are the goats!? Are they with you?”
“Are goats supposed to eat roses?”
I am so grateful for our gifts. They certainly are an entertaining distraction, as well as a testament to creative holiday gifts that just keep giving.