“Ben, I can see my goats from this rock.”
“Yep, I’ve a good view too. Any wolves come, we’ll stop them.”
“Thanks for helping,” I said gratefully.
“No problem George, that’s what neighbours do. They take your goats and they’ll be on to mine next.”
I said nothing, watching the goats leap from rock to rock with a grace and insouciance; the capricious creatures were born for it. They’d tried sheep at first, but damn things kept getting lost and really didn’t like the rocky ground. Goats on the other hand loved it, gravity never having had much hold on them.
I watched Bill, my favourite goat, taking a bite out of a rock. She looked at me while chewing happily. She was a good producer, but cheeky. I suspected she was the one who’d broken the fencing the day before. It wasn’t there to keep the goats in, the gap to the next rocks did that. It was to stop wolves.
“Fleeces look good George, lovely green, and their torso bubbles look smooth.”
“I’m always careful, I popped one a few years ago, and had to bring the injured goat inside to allow the chlorophyll fleece to regrow, and rebuild the bubble. A real nightmare. I always think it’s a pity they can’t live off the rocks, but that’s modern mechano-genetic-engineering for you.”
“You listening on the goats’ channel?”
“Nah, only so many ‘maaas’ I can take. It’s obvious if they spot anything.”
Bill, bored with her position, bounced off, small pellets of pure metals coming out of her behind, and collecting in the little bubble I attached to her daily. It still amazed me that they chewed into rock and pooed out these metals, but that was the whole point of bringing them up to the asteroids.
“Mind if I ask something George?”
“Another three years.”
“Yeah, I reckon if I double the flock over the next month, then I’ll be able to get most of the easy minerals out. You?”
“I’m on rolling six months, I…”
Suddenly the whole flock looked up. One of them had spotted a pirate wolf, I got my rifle ready, and hoped we’d get it.
“Got it, Sun-side top.”
“Where… got it too. A single wolf raider. There must be a back-up somewhere.”
“You take him out. I’ll hunt the other.”
I aimed carefully and squeezed off a shot, then another. The first grazed him, but the second was smack bang in the middle of his bubble. It collapsed, and I could see the pilot thrashing before it exploded. It was harsh, but if I hadn’t stopped him then I’d find stripped goat carcasses spinning in nearby space within the day.
I looked around to see how Ben was doing, and spotted another raider bubble collapsing.
“Yee-es! Got the other.”
“Awesome. I owe you Ben.”
“Beers next time we’re in town. Unlikely you’ll see more wolves today. I gotta check my flock, I bet they’ve scattered.”
Grateful, I watched my flock, oblivious once again and eating happily. Despite the occasional wolf, it was a good life, for them and me.