Goats' Play

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Vrisnik is a village which boasts many animals. Goats are among the most prized.

Goats enjoying freedom in Vrisnik Goats enjoying freedom in Vrisnik Photo Vivian Grisogono

Vrisnik is one of Hvar Island's lovely inland villages. It is compact, and rises up a hillside, with the parish church of St. Anthony the Abbot at its peak. St. Anthony's feast day is January 17th, so the village holds an annual celebration in his honour on or around this date. Vrisnik is about 173 m above sea level, so most parts of the village command beautiful views over the surrounding countryside.

Among its many attractions, Vrisnik is a village which is unusually full of animals, some of them quite exotic. Some twenty-five years ago when I first arrived in Pitve, goats used to wander around the village freely, performing the useful service of keeping the garden tidy in my absence. Nowadays, only a few households have goats, and they no longer roam free, but are contained within gardens and enclosures. So it was a welcome surprise to come across a couple of young goats having an early evening outing in one of the upper reaches of Vrisnik, making the most of the vegetation which was suddenly lush after some ferocious September storms.

One of the goats was decidedly frisky and inquisitive, and gazed at me with an inquiring look. Did I have any food to offer? Once it was obvious that I did not, it was back to skittering up the wall, the next best thing to a mountainside, in search of something to nibble.

Soon there was another possibility of free food, Vlasta on her bicycle, who was keen to make acquaintance.

Friendly contact was quickly established.

However, once it was clear the friendly hand was empty, it was back to exploring the possibilities of the wall.

The owner of the goats explained that they particularly liked bread, and quickly lost interest if their new human friends didn't provide any.

Then the pair were joined by an impressive white goat, who, we were told, was their grandmother.

Goats are a special asset in a village. They provide pure fresh milk, and some householders make wonderful goat's cheese, also yoghurt. Most of the goat's milk is reserved primarily for children, as it is such a good source of nutrients, without the disadvantages of mass-farmed dairy produce. I was surprised to learn that during Socialist times goats were largely banned, because of the damage they did to the woodlands. It seemed strange to curtail such an important natural source of nutrition, which was part of an age-old tradition. I just hope Croatia's accession to the EU doesn't produce any such ill-founded restriction - if that happened, it would go against the human right of individuals to choose their food sources. It would be a cause of sorrow and serious complaint.

Untroubled by any such gloomy possibilities, the goats continued to scamper around and enjoy the soft evening air, which was still damp at the tail-end of the rainy day. They didn't take any notice of the greater world around them, but the view down to Svirče in the slight haze was magical to the human eye, rounding off a perfect happy experience.

© Vivian Grisogono 2014

 

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