Goats, I want you to know, aren’t perfect. I’ve talked on and on about how much I love them but let me tell you, they have their quirks and their moments. Although they are a herd and have a herd mentality, they each have their own personalities, just like any other animal. I’ve talked about the HerdQueen. She has won all of the battles of the horns and ramming in the sides and lifting and throwing by the horns. She has won the right to be Queen. Here, at my place, that means that she rules, or tries to, the food. She wants to claim every pile, or every bowl, as her own, and the head ramming begins. The girls are way more aggressive than the boys. The HerdQueen also leads the group. She may stay behind if she chooses, but if they are out and they perceive a threat, she is in the lead, with her baby bouncing along beside her, learning how to be queen herself.
Pecking order battles take place on a daily basis. Running at each other at high speed and ramming into the side of their ‘enemy’, is normal. Even when it comes to babies, and even the babies themselves do the ramming and challenging. They practically come out of the womb wanting to challenge their place. I’m always trying to catch pictures of the rearing up, raring up, whatever it is, because it amuses me. My favorite one is of Picasso, raring up at Diesel, the lamb. And my other favorite is my poor tiny pregnant Shortcake being challenged after she was sheared. It’s hard to catch, because it’s usually unexpected and happens very fast.
Some want to kiss you, others want to lick the salt off your arms. Some want to play with you and some want to stay as far away from you as they can possibly get. The night that Cherub was dying, Lovey, the bottle baby, didn’t try to get the bottle from me, for the first time. Sometimes I think they understand completely. Other times, I scratch my head. When I had them in the Girls and Ladies pens, behind my house in the L pasture, the fence squares were too big and the babies would stick their heads out to eat greenies and get stuck. The fencing we used originally was not right for goats. Those poor pens, I have no idea how they are holding themselves up with so many cuts of the wires, to free babies. Maya got her horn broken that way and she bled, I squirted purple stuff and you would never know it today. That’s why I moved them to the front pasture. Too many stuck heads, and it was always so traumatic for me, to try to get them out. My husband can do it without cutting the wires, I can’t, not usually.
I told you about the birthing symptoms and signs, but labor itself….hmmm. Some scream bloody murder. I have a video on Youtube under the name MamaWillow444, I think, that shows a rather small goat, Dimi, giving birth to Ella, who is now my troublemaker goat. The pups licked her through the fence because Dimi had walked away. It was a struggle but we got them together, and like mother like daughter, Ella had Shortcake and refused to feed her. I had to pin her against the wall and latch the baby on for three days before she figured it out. Some stand and drop the baby, most lay down and one had hers through the fence and I funneled them back through as she had them…Milly, and her Edo and Sendai. And some don’t make a sound. Some let you near the babies and some don’t. Donna doesn’t. Some make friends with you, and some don’t. My favorite girl, Maya, has yet to let me touch her. She has approached me lately since her mother, the HerdQueen ignores her now that she has a new baby, but never completely coming up to me.
They pee on their food or hay, if it’s not off the ground. These goats don’t pick a place to do their business, like an alpaca will. Nope, when they gotta go, they gotta go. And they move, fast, when you’re trying to pour the food into the troughs, and before the grains can reach the trough, the goat gets in the way and then wears that food until he is sheared again, six months later. We also find dead bugs in the fleece, or sticks and even small pieces of barbed wire.
Yesterday we sheared Einstein, a Beautiful, and whoa, that was ridiculous. I don’t remember him doing that before but I can check in my little book. Looks like he was hard to do last year as well. It was so bucking bronco through the whole thing. Today, we sheared Firefly, who has an E in the book, and yes, he was easy again, but I need to amend it to now say ‘head shy‘. Since he was free of mites, we walked him by the horns about 75 yards to put him in with the Munchkins where he will now have free access to grass and weeds 24/7. Thinking that because he was older than them by a year, it didn’t occur to me he’d be smaller.
He must think I lied. I told him he was going to love it there because he would be the boss and have all the free greenies. After enduring him stepping on my legs as we walked him, yes, blood was drawn, we put him in the L. (Cathy later said, ‘I didn’t even hear you say ouch!‘. I said, ‘I didn’t’.) The munchkins came running and uh oh, Firefly was smaller than Popeye. So now the whole group is harassing the poor thing. I’ll wait a little longer. If I’d known he was smaller than Popeye, I would have waited till there were two I could put in there together. Those boys just don’t realize that Firefly was born in the same house and pen they were born in, and he ran there for safety, nope, he found no safety. Poor baby. Well, I checked on him and it only took less than 2 hours and he’s apparently one of the herd now. See, I keep all my boys, there are plenty, in groups. There’s the big boys, the Beautifuls, Munchkins, and soon, another for the new babies to come, not withstanding Opti and Lovey. There’s less fighting this way. I hate the fighting. Firefly lived in the Beautifuls pen right next to the Munchkins for a whole year, and they even sometimes grazed together, but he was still an outsider, and they let him know.
So tonight I thought White Owl had her baby so we drove over to see, in the truck, which brought all the horses and cows running thinking food was about to be tossed their way. Nope, no baby yet. It’s been a successful day. Another goat shorn, No mites, and got him moved. 10 more to shear. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Signing off at Curly Locks Ranch.