Crofting: Goats Panic

It rained last evening. The goats were on picket north of the house when a five minute gully washer rolled through.

wet, angry goat

I took the photo through the living room window, adding insult to injury. I certainly wasn’t going to run out in a short driving rain just to fetch goats into the barn. While goats hate to get wet, and they all raised a chorus of woe about it, they didn’t get very wet. It was a brief shower. Goats shouldn’t be left in drenching rain, but this was more of a wash than torrents of equatorial rain. Buck stood at the window and bawled at me. He was quite clearly angry, upset that I didn’t come out, and was letting me know all about it.

Nicholas was working on the fence around the chicken yard today, and I went to the barn to clean stalls. I had carried compost over to the pile in an old bucket, and the three of them, staked out on the lawn, were certain it was grain for them. Vanilla worked her stake loose, and edged down closer to the barn, lying at the edge of the lawn to keep an eye on things. Tara, who is not nearly as subtle, just dragged her tire rim like a sledge behind her until she could stand near Vanilla. The buck noticed none of this for about half an hour, then decided he was definitely out of the loop, so he uprooted and dragged his staked tire rim across the lawn. It turned on edge as he gained speed, and when it started clattering after him,  his first wild and only guess was that a monster was after him. He cried and wailed and blundered through the lilac bushes. The girls scattered. I had to jump and dodge the swinging tether and its iron weight until he finally got it wedged on a root and I could unclip him. He trotted for the barn without a glance backward. Never look back, he seemed to be saying; it could be gaining on you.

Although I had to tether Tara to a stall door to keep her from wandering into the garden, the other two goats supervised Nicholas’s work, then came into the barn to rest in the shade. I put down a layer of ashes to absorb damp and repel flies, and they took a great interest in the metal can we use to contain ashes. I suspect that their previous owner kept their grain in a similar can. They were disappointed when all I did was pour gray woodash on the dirt floor. I had to shoo them out of that stall – ash can be caustic on the soft part of hooves or in noses or mouths. I came back a few minutes later with a plastic utility bucket of pine shavings. Again, general disappointment. It wasn’t edible. Then a third bucket appeared, but it was plain old water. Finally, I gave them a flake of hay in the hayrick, and ushered them into the stall. Buck gave me a mean look when he saw there was no grain in the trough, but they had plenty to eat through the day.

Nicholas is sitting here with a chick in his lap. He is getting them used to being handled. The chick has gone to sleep.


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