Friday, February 8, 2013
Goats are the bane of my existence!
The reason goats are the bane of my existence?
-They are brilliant, yet stupid...dumb is when you do something idiotic and don't know any better, stupid is when you do know you're being an idiot but do it anyway...make sense? It will.
-They are NEVER content with what they have; they are always looking for -and finding ways to circumvent the fence and escape to greener pastures...like my orchard,...or garden...or the neighbors hay meadow.
-Out of sight, out of mind; In the warmer seasons when they give birth out in the field we are constantly having to hike across the 60 acres to find their babies because their Mamas wander off, forget to feed their hungry offspring, and eventually forget they ever had kids...until they get back to the barn and start lowing their heads off for their babies...who are 60 acres away, about to become coyote food unless I take a flashlight and start beating the brush for them, usually in a thunderstorm.
-Goats will always pick the most bitterly cold night of winter to have their babies, who of course become hypothermic -so we blow dry them out in the barn and rub them all over with hay for three hours, then have to sit on Mama so she will nurse them. She, of course conveniently forgot she ever had them! While one of us sits on Mama (Jay) the other (me) teaches the babies how to walk so they can get some comforting -and essential- sips of milk from Mama. If she still rejects them, we take them into the house and they become bottle-babies. We feed them every four hours from their spot in front of the toasty fireplace for several weeks...it is exhausting, but worth it if they survive...there really is nothing sweeter than a kid goat who loves you and thinks you are Mama.
-Goats are not hardy! They are pansies who up and die on you if you breathe on them wrong...you can do everything right, and spend hours and days, and many a sleepless night fighting to save their lives, but 9/10 times there is nothing that can bring them back, and so you have to say goodbye...and it never get's easier to do because goats are very good at taking a large chunk of your heart and occupying it...much like a puppy who is exasperating but also so very lovable and fun.
- A goat's only redeeming quality is that most of the time they are affectionate...the way they show great affection is by jumping on your back if you have the misfortune to be crouching down...when small, this is cute, when it is a 250 lb doe...that's different, and you will be walking a bit crouched over for a few days.
Yesterday reminded me why I am trying to persuade FSA to lift the restriction on our operating loan which requires the same number of animals on hand for collateral as we originally started with. I would like to sell most of the goats and focus on raising only spotted colored Boers and St. Croix sheep. Not an option at the moment, and last night reminded why that is a problem. Yesterday it rained, and thundered, and blew...and in general was cold and miserable...goats being goats they chose the height of the tempest to escape the fence and head straight for my orchard. I was lazing on the couch in front of my toasty fire after cleaning the house all day, and was enjoying a book. Until I heard a baby crying outside the door...and there they were...all 30 of them, in my orchard...again. I ran out into the rain and with lightning arcing across the sky started herding those idiots out of my orchard...this took a while, until I picked up a long broken off length of hose and started swinging it. To my credit I didn't hit any of them, not even when they refused to go back through the gate into their pen.to a warm dry barn...idiots!....and instead led me on a merry chase back and forth across the four acres around the house. Round and round and round we went, I am sure that my guardian angels were highly entertained as they watched me stagger through the mud after those goats yipping like a dog to get them to move, and shouting Hiya every few seconds....it was sooooo much fun, let me tell you. After 20 minutes of this they eventually gave up on their game and filed neatly...with me swinging a hose at their backsides...in the gate.
Another chapter in a daily saga.
Time to check on them again.