Goats

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I didn’t plan to write about goats before this photo of Breeze popped up–a cool capture that I can’t recall snapping a shutter on. This photo is a head-scratcher, like, why did I overlook or simply ignore it? It also puts in mind my three goats–a mom, who’s grown old, and her twins, who have matured. It’s nearly 10 years ago that I brought home this little trio of the smallest-breed goats, African Dwarfs, on a whim. They’ve always been together and are so bonded that I worry about losing mama goat and how it’ll affect the twins. Through the years these three have taught much to me about goats and most of it is lovely.

Bringing them home was an on-the-spot impulsive decision and I hadn’t prepared. The only safe space for mama and her then-babies was an enclosure adjacent to my new young chickens. I spent the next week or so working to create a safe place where the goats could escape wind and rain. I got busy reading how-to-care books, asked questions of the feed store’s “goat guy”, and spent lots of time observing the goats relaxing or playing.

They proved themselves to be aware, smart, and great fun. Mama who started life as a rescued herd goat never developed a trust for humans matching that of the twins who were handled by people from their birth. Over time, mama and I developed a mutually-trusting relationship, but she remained always cautious and avoided me if something worried her. Like when I would bring another person to help trim their hooves.

At the sight of a stranger, mama heralds an alarm and all three goats rush in varying circles and are hard to capture. It takes time to catch them, but I’ve learned how, and while trimming hooves on a 75-lb. goat, holding it is harder than you’d think. These little critters are incredibly strong. Even a goat that’s being held steady still can kick and deliver a wallop, plus its little sharp hooves are dangerous.

Goats are members of the Bovidae family, of cloven-hoof and ruminant animals, including bison, buffalo, wildebeests, antelopes, and others. Early on, a veterinarian who raises goats insisted to me that goats are in the deer family, but I eventually learned this isn’t so. Deer are in the Cervadie family of even-toed animals.

Goats are trainable and some folks have taught them to pull a cart, which I’d love to do. A couple of outdoorsy folks in this area have taught their goats to carry packs, and the animals carry supplies while accompanying on treks.

Mine love to play by faux-attacking and butting one another. Otherwise, they move around bonded as a unit of one, while keeping watch on the property and always showing eagerness for my visits.

Dear Friends: What would we be like, if we couldn’t know other living species? Diana

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