1. Yuletide at Beltane

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The snow was falling at Beltane farm. True, this was a bit unusual in December, for these latter years had seen the yuletide come and go in dull shades of brown and gray instead of being blessed by the white of snow. What with the farm less than an hour’s distance from the sound, what was often snow to the north and west was just plain old rain upon the local fields.

But today the snow seemed to quite purposefully fall, which made some of the older goats wary that this December snowfall might portend the coming of an especially hard January. January would almost always bring with it crystal days that blow the stinging shards of winter’s furry. “Oooh,” shivered Mattie as she enjoyed some hay from her place by the manger and thought of the winter blasts that she had endured through the years and the cold that was sure to come. How the bitter winds could swirl on the late afternoon dusk, blowing away the last of the delicate sun. The strong hard nights would find even the heartiest of goats moving to the barn to escape the frosty wind.

Today though, was rather pleasant. The goats were comfortable, their beds recently made dry and fluffy with fresh wood shavings in each of the calf hutches, a perfect place to watch as the masters of the house, the Jack Russell Terrier, the old Collie and a donkey made their way with a saw, through the snow past the doe pen and into the pine grove. There was silence, then laughter. From time to time the donkey would break through the snow-covered bows rushing toward the doe pen out into the open, kicking and bucking with the energy of an excited puppy. Then he would stop, look around for a moment and then mischievously put his ears back, lower his head and playfully rush back into the pines. The goats watched as this scene repeated. Once, even the Collie bounded through the snow out of the grove pursued by the donkey. She was able to out-maneuver the donkey and lost him by veering quickly back into the grove under some low-lying branches.

A sound of sawing was heard and soon enough out came the masters of the house, pulling behind them a tree. The terrier, the old collie and the donkey followed behind them. Some of the goats moved forward expectantly knowing that the masters often brought green bows and small fir trees for them to eat. But past the doe pen they went, making their way toward the house. Into the house the old farmhouse they went with the tree followed by the terrier and the Collie. The donkey watched and waited near the door. Shortly, out came one of the masters back toward the pine grove, past the doe pen with a basket in which he went about collecting small branches of greens. Then back toward the house he went with the basket full of small bunches of pine and fir.

“Are they keeping goats that we don’t know about in the big white house?” asked Bridget in a worried tone. There was a general bleating of goats to signify that many of them had wondered the very same thing. “They do this with a tree every year!” said Daisy. “Yes,” Sinead was heard to agree from inside a hutch where she reclined on a pillow of wood shavings. “I remember that they did that last year too, now that you mention it.”

“It is a bit strange, isn’t it?” offered Champagne as she chewed some hay by the manger. “Why it doesn’t make any sense at all!” exclaimed Joy, one of the yearling goats as she looked around for an explanation but none was forthcoming. “Perhaps we should consult Mattie,” said Fiona finally in a confident tone. “I’m sure she might have some idea what this is all about.”