Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bird House & Barn

... a Goat Farm Report

Tasha and Ada were invited to the Spring Garden Party. Great friends, you say? Awesome neighborhood? I know, right? We love our community, and the gatherings that bring absolutely everyone out for a good time. Goats, too!

People ask, Why goats? And, When did you decided to get goats? And, Are you milking them?

Milking goats: No. We haven't had them bred. No babies, no milk. It's a step we are tempted to make, especially Geoff! But we know it would be a big, big commitment. They're small goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats, but they are well known for their milk production, and if they give birth, not only would we be looking out for babies, we would be duty bound to milking the goats twice a day. You cannot get away, travel, make other plans with that responsibility. So, we have to be sure, before we go for it!

This face! Oh, I love my goaters. They are such darlings. They're a bit headstrong, and Ada, here, can speak volumes, but their hearts are sweet, and they make us laugh. It was so easy to fall in love with them, when they were wee babes. They were literally irresistible! And, even now that they are all grown up, I still find them endearing.

Goodness, I was so wrapped up in how much the goats have grown, but as I visit the archives, my heart is touched to see how much Maria has grown, too! *Sigh*

Our goats, are accustomed to walking on leashes, wearing harnesses. Our last travel outing was in the fall, when they were taken to church to be blessed. We kept them in a small fenced area, which was only semi-effective... whenever they got excited about seeing someone, they would lean on the fence and bring the whole thing down! So, for our visit to the garden party, Geoff brought rope and we kept them on extended leashes. That novelty was not a big hit with the goats, who wound themselves up, tangled, and fussed... until we brought out their food!

Their orchard grass and oats, made them calmer.

But those harnesses and ropes were still a bit of a tangle, so Geoff and I took turns keeping them straightened out.

Those are dog harnesses, and goats are not exactly dog shaped, so things can get a bit wonky. And goats expand and deflate through the day, so the fit varies. The big bellies? It's not fat, or pregnancy, it's because they're ruminants, and the grass and hay they've foraged is being processed in multiple stomach chambers... things get gassy in there, and they fill up, and belch, and chew their cud. It's a goat thing.

Do they eat everything? No! And it's not nice to give them just anything. They do try everything, tasting and sampling whatever they can, like a toddler will. They use their lips like fingers, feeling and exploring and discovering what they've found. It's important to keep un-food away from their reach, because they like to chew strings, try plastics, nibble on interesting bits, but those things can get stuck and cause them a heap of trouble.

Sometimes, it seems like their appetites are endless. They love food. They love the dry leaves in fall, and pine needles, and bark off a tree. But they are smart, too, luckily, and when they're full, they step away, settle down and start chewing their cud. Fortunately, we only had to help with bloat, one time. It was when Ada had such a severe case of indigestion, she wouldn't even move, and more shocking! she stopped talking. She got the Pepto cure, and was recovered after a day. We were all relieved!

Their eyes are {weird, strange, pretty, so different!} We agree. Goat eyes are weird, strange, pretty and different. It's those horizontal pupils. Those pupils help them by giving them a wide peripheral field of view... very helpful when foraging on the African plains, and keeping a lookout for predators. They can look really goofy, I know. But even goofier than those googly eyes, is when I see a picture of them with drowsy-half shut googly eyes!

Just the moment none of us wants to be tagged for on social media! Sorry, Tasha. You adorably goofy goat.

A favorite goat moment I enjoy is introducing new friends to Ada and Tasha. Sometimes we'll see someone who is very timid, uncertain about those googly-eyed ungulates. It can take a bit of prodding, gentle encouragement, but once they feed our goats, and feel those soft lips vacuuming up their oats, there is a wonderful moment of elation, connection. Trust and joy! The goats don't bite. They can get a bit clumsy and being so big, they have accidentally toppled Maria, but they have never done anything aggressive or deliberately rough... and we're really happy about this.

Good thing the children had small hands, or the goats would have filled up even sooner than they did! By the time Adam and his buddies came around, Tasha and Ada were about full, and definitely a lot less pushy about having a favorite snack.

And, even though the children were happy to make unlimited offerings, I am happy to report our goats knew better than to take in more than they could digest.

But Tasha and Ada were no less interested in all the sweet attention and company they were getting. They soaked up all the party love, making new friends, and enjoying a beautiful day.

Why goats? Because I am lucky. Because they captured my imagination, and made me wish wistful and heartfelt wishes, and sometimes it's worthwhile to take leap, and make a dream come true!


judy in ky said...

By fulfilling your dreams you are creating so many beautiful things.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Yes! This is what I will think about when I am in doubt about some of my wilder ideas!
And one more thing: Thank you. I can always count on you, especially on the days when it feels like I am _talking to myself_