Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter Goat Pandemonium

I started to write that it’s winter time, which means more pandemonium than usual at the home farm, but that’s not really true.  There’s adventure to be had no matter what the season here, and goats will provide plenty of entertainment, aggravation, exasperation, wonder, joy, and sustenance no matter what the season.  I guess I thought winter was the greatest season of pandemonium because it’s wetter, wilder, and more physically challenging.  Today was a day for the outdoor motion detected camera, which is still not purchased, let alone installed.

I was up until 2am the night before, so waking up at 8am gave me six hours of sleep instead of the three I would have had if I’d gotten up when the alarm went off.  It was Sunday, so although it put me behind schedule, it didn’t make me late for anything.  I remember hearing the clock radio blasting the Sunday morning local talk/interview thing and hitting the snooze button once, but remembered nothing about the two hours it blasted after that, plus an hour of blissful silence.  I definitely needed the extra hours.

I stumbled out of my room to take Duncan outside to “do his duty.”  It was raining.  It was coming down in torrents.  Poor Duncan gingerly made his way out into the wet like a good boy, and briskly trotted back into the house when he was done, shaking as he went through the door.  After feeding him, Breezy was next, and she pulled back at first, not wanting to get wet, but nature’s call won and she eventually did what she needed to, getting us both overly soaked in her hesitant, procrastinating process.  She shook three times when we came in; I changed jackets and shoved my hair inside to try to stay warmer.

I gathered the hay and put it under the tarp shelter in the goat pen, then opened the door to the chicken coop in case they wanted to venture out into the downpour.  The rain came down in sheets as I opened the barn door and walked into the relative calm of goats lying down.  They slowly stood and stretched, and I felt regret as I clipped leashes to their collars and gave them their morning scratches.  It was wet outside, and I’d rather they have the option to stay in the barn, but they kept breaking out of the new fence attached to the barn and going back to the old pen.  Without a battery hook-up for the new fence, it made no sense to try to keep them there.  I knew they’d break out and end up going to where I was going to lead them anyway, so I pushed aside any feelings of guilt, took Salsa’s collar in hand, and opened the barn door.

I usually wait with Salsa while the rest of the goats file out, leaving last so as to avoid having to come back for a straggler.  None of them wanted to leave.  I walked to the back of the barn with Salsa, who is the “herd queen” and the boss, thinking pressure from her might get them to move.  Imbri hopped out and over the soggiest part of ground in front of the door, and her kids followed.  Lily was last, but trotted when she left the barn.  As I walked Salsa toward the milk stand, I saw trouble brewing.  Lily, who never does this, had jumped onto the milk stand, then put her front hooves on my milking chair and was beginning to reach her head toward the surface where the milk bucket, strip cup, sanitizing spray, hoof trimming implement box, and Salsa’s morning grain in a large blue scoop were waiting.  I shouted at her to get off, knowing it was fruitless to do so, and stepped faster, still careful on the slick ground. 

I was too slow.  Before I could get 20 paces from her, Lily had knocked the milk pail to the ground.  As the metal clanged and clattered loudly, scattering the protective cover across the cement tile, it startled all the goats and they jumped and took off.  Unfortunately, Moonshine and Luna’s leash had become caught on the metal milk stand, so they dragged it out into the rain 6 feet, pulling it over onto its side on the gravel as I approached.  I released them, then hooked Salsa to a post so I had hands free to get everything fixed again.  Becca came outside to see what the ruckus was all about, and held Lily while I righted the milk stand and maneuvered it back into position.  Imbri and the kids had hightailed it back to the barn, so once I got everything back into place, I had to walk back to get them in rain that was now being blown sideways in random gusts of wind.  The three of them stood side by side in the doorway looking out, all of them maaaing loudly.  A missed Kodak moment, but in the pouring rain, there was no way I was pulling out a camera.  I grabbed leashes and they came willingly, though very vocally.  Eventually, everyone got into their proper places, I re-sanitized the milk bucket, and finished off chores by milking, mulling over what had happened and what could be done to avoid it in the future.  I chuckled to myself while the cat wound around the legs of the stand as I realized that there was nothing to do but enjoy the occasional chaos.  Their independence, spunk, curiosity and playfulness are some of the things I love the most about goats.  Ours certainly have plenty of that!

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