August 08, 2019
My three little African Dwarf Goats keep me laughing. There’s mama, Sego Lily (foreground in the photo), and her twins, Breeze (on mama’s right) and Poppy (the darker-coated one). They’ve been with me since the twins were six months old, and that was nine years ago. Heaven knows how old mama is, and hints of her age show up as arthritis. She’s nevertheless tough and determined to keep contributing her own goaty nonsense.
They share special rations from that pan in the photo, while also head butting one another to make space and claim portions. Sometimes they quit eating altogether and head-butt in a dance that circles the pan, before suddenly stopping to resume eating. Their other shared feed is hay, always available from a hanging bag.
Something interesting is that, in a trio formation, they always participate as shown in the picture with Breeze on mama’s right and Poppy on her left. If a goat leaves the community platter or hay-bag and then returns, she resumes her understood position.
Mama was rescued from a herd while young but old enough to distrust people. Because of this, it takes time and patience for a new person to get near or to handle her. Sego Lily is alert and cautious, but perhaps no longer the herd’s most dominate, beause often, Breeze seems to make decisions for the group.
Like all animals, they need work. For starters, I’d like to go hiking with my goats! But they’re not trained, so that “like” is a plan. Even before I could start to carve out time to work with the goats, Pimmy (my donkey, my biggest hanger-0ut needing a job) must be trained to pull a cart, and with me riding in it.
These little goats are delightful to have around, to enjoy, and to appreciate their smarts and interactions. Even with minimal training, they’re useful, say, in a fenced area with overly tall grass or lots of weeds. They follow me around, and specially eagerly on hearing the rattling of grain in a bucket. Like my other animals, the goats can recognize the sounds of my truck’s motor coming along the roadway toward home, and also like the others, all three cuties are incredibly alert to noises and changes in the environment.
Sometimes I wish it were possible to push the calendar back ten years, to start over with these same critters. I’d not let them just hang around, but would make sure they’re trained, useful, and enjoying their work. But always when it comes to time, first we must learn, right? And there’s no pushing back of time, right?
We can’t do anything over, but in future rounds could do everything better.
Dear Friends: What living with farm critters teaches could fill books. Diana