by Chana Glanstein
(Woodbourne, NY USA)
My oldest son was terribly allergic to cows milk, and did quite well on the goats milk that our friend had provided. However, this friend was retiring and moving away from the farm. So,one of our first goats was a 1 year old pregnant alpine doe,that he had given as a gift to my son on his 6th birthday. He is now 22 years old. Mama Zissa, which means Sweet Mama really lived up to her name. Of all the goats we've had, she was always his favorite. But the most amazing thing about her was when we obtained a guinea hen.
Some children had hatched a guinea hen and raised it up until it started getting too big and messy to keep inside their house. They gave it to us. Since she was still quite young, I placed her in a cage in the milking parlor. Twice a day Mama Zissa came in to be milked, and ,of course, was curious about the creature in the cage. After about a week, I let the bird out of the cage, but she remained in the milking room. But only for about a week! She escaped one evening and we couldn't find her anywhere. I had figured we had lost her-and that was that. I was wrong. We found her the next morning nestled in with Mama Zissa. And from that moment on they were inseparable.
Cheep-cheep (the guinea hen) came in the milking parlor for milking time, and went to the manger for feeding time. Whenever Mama Zissa had to get in the truck, she had never given us any trouble, until cheep-cheep became her friend. If someone didn't grab Cheep-cheep first and put her in the truck, Mama Zissa was NOT getting in that truck. We even had to get special compensation to allow Cheep-cheep to share a pen with the goats at the 4-H fair.
Of all the stories and memories of that particular pair, there is one that stands out. Mama Zissa had developed conjunctivitis, an eye disease that creates a gloppy kind of stuff that comes from the eye. The vet was called in and when he came, there was cheep-cheep gently pulling off all that gloppy stuff. He examined the eye and gave us some medicine, but said to wait until morning, that bird may cure it faster than any medicine could! Sure enough, by morning there wasn't any sign that she had ever had conjunctivitis!
It was amazing to see their relationship with each other. Unfortunately, we all age, as did these two. One morning there was a terrible cry coming from the barn, way too early for milking time. I ran out to see what was going on. Mama Zissa was screaming at the top of her lungs-totally distraught. Cheep-cheep lay on the barn floor. She had died, probably of old age as she was about 13 years old. Mama Zissa, also quite old, almost 15, died less than a month later, I believe of a broken heart.