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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

And now there are none.

It's the end of an era.

Charlie came over this morning to get Leah.  It was forecast to be a spectacular day and he would be home to see how she did and run interference if need be, so he was here early.



A last hug before goodbye.
The handoff

After many hugs and inward tears (the real ones came later),we loaded her in the car and then she was gone, along with half my heart.






Leah is special to me.  When I got her at 4 months old, she was very skittish, and continued to be leery of everyone, including me, as she grew up.  I dont' remember exactly how old she was, maybe 2 or 3, but she got her head caught between some boards and was slowly strangling herself.  When I came out, I was sure it was too late.  Though she was still moving, she was dead weight and I couldn't get her to shift her weight at all.  I ran and got a hammer and pounded out the board that was holding her fast and pulled her head out, whereupon she staggered over and fell on the ground.  I cuddled her, encouraged her, talked to her, stroked her, and pleaded with her.  She arose and fell again, after drunkenly stumbling around for a few steps.  Her head rose and gazed around, lighted on me, and fell again to the ground.

I patted and talked to her some more, then went and repaired the boards, making sure they were now close enough that no other goat of any age could get its head through.  After a while, Leah recovered, and thereafter she did not run from me.  She knew I'd saved her life, and a special bond has existed between us from that moment on.

I feel like I've betrayed her, though I know I haven't.  She'll be wondering where she is, where I am, why her surroundings are different, though she was born on Charlie's farm.  I wonder if she'll have any remembrance of his place?

After Leah had gone, I packed up Hal and took him to his new home.  He was pretty calm on the way, even lay down after a while.  All I could see of him were his ears.


Little goat ears are all that can be seen.  Hal was comfortable enough to lie down.

He's faring a bit better, since he's joining Leo, Dandy, D'Arcy, Fedra, and Hermione. He knows them all.  It'll be old home week.  I left him in his new digs and returned home to an empty barn, a vacated pasture.

Hal joined Hermione, his littermate.  They recognized each other, but he was more interested in going home.


Hal stayed by the fence, waiting for me. 
I wonder how long it'll take to stop looking out the window to watch the goats, how long before I don't reach for my jacket because it's time to feed.  It's been a long and difficult evening.  I don't feel like doing anything, no ambition at all. I was fine so long as it was daytime; now all I have is my thoughts.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

And then there were two...

Boerning's Fiore left yesterday.  He's such a beautiful boy.  I found myself looking at photos from when I first got him a year ago to now, and all the changes in between.  And how he has changed!

October 2015, a mere youngster

February 2016--winter fuzzies. Still looking like a very young buck.

November 2016.  He has really filled out and is showing the promise to come.


Last adventure before leaving.  Fiore really did not like staying in the pasture when there were places to be explored.
As I look at his development, I am sure that when he matures, he'll be a truly spectacular buck.  His first daughter will freshen in the spring, and then we'll see if he brings his dam's superb production capacity to his daughter, Hermione.  Of course, her dam, Crooked Shade Dandelion, is not shabby in the production line either, but what Fiore gave his daughter so far is the width to make that capacity more comfortable for the doe.  Hopefully, Hermione will be far more comfortable walking with a full udder.

Technically, Fiore is still mine.  I have leased him to Noelle Lueck of Recurado Farm.  Noelle is delighted to have him, and I am thrilled that he'll have such a good home, where he will be much appreciated.

It was relatively uneventful, really.  My friend Charlie came with his buckmobile and after only a moment's hesitation, Fiore jumped in.  A handful of grain didn't hurt as a persuader, either.



Once the car started moving, Fiore lay down and relaxed for the hour-long ride.  When we got to the meeting place, Hussey's General Store in Windsor, he continued lying down chewing cud while we all exchanged pleasantries and talked goats and politics.  When the time came to make the switch, he jumped out of the car, to the delight of some of the patrons of Hussey's, and walked calmly to Keith's van, where he took a quick look and hopped right in. 

Is there something back there?

 Hay, yum!  Those Luecks really know how to set a goat table!

Tying him in.

A last goodbye.
Keith and Noelle, ready to roll.
And then he was gone.

When I got home, I took Leah and Hal for a walk up to the acorns, and they came, but hesitantly at first.  It was Fiore that always led the way.  Today, they wouldn't venture from the pasture gate, not even to gather acorns.  They're not comfortable being just two.  Soon Leah will go to Charlie's and Hal will join Leo as his companion.  Perhaps being in larger herds will bring back their sense of security. Goats need lots of companions.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Harvesting acorns

As my time with my goats is winding down, I've been making time to take walks with them.  This time, I headed up the lane to a spot that I knew was loaded with acorns.  I love my goats, the way they come when I call, and their willingness to trust and follow me everywhere. 

They were already out (of course), so when I started out it took no time at all for them to catch up.


Even though the leaves have turned, there's still plenty for them to browse, and they do love nibbling along the way. 




But oh, how they did love finding the acorns.  In fact, they discovered them before I could point them out. 





And what noises!  Snuffling, and searching, pushing aside leaves!  A treasure trove!


While they were scarfing them down, I collected a bag of acorns to feed later.  They were very appreciative.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Escape

It is a fact that goats are hard to keep in.  I've often thought it would be far easier to fence them out of the yard and garden than to fence them into the pasture and paddock, but I suspect they'd decide that the other side of the fence was still worth investigating.
The usual suspects

Back to the barn to confer
This time of year, after all growing things have either been eaten by one of the goats' forays or simply harvested in the normal rhythm of farm life, I don't get too upset when they escape from the pasture.  In fact, I expect it, because I stop trimming the fence line and the temporary electric fence gets put away, and the goats wander over to the brush and forage and then around to the road and finally into the yard.

The grass really is greener just outside the house

A quick look in the dog yard.  Zoë was looking back at him.

but Fiore is watching me in the doorway and is heading up the stairs to check out the camera.
What I don't understand, and will probably never understand, is why, since they know exactly how to get out, they can't figure out how to get back in.  Or is it just that they consider me their goat slave?
I think I'm being paged.

I've opened the gate...

...and in they all go

After a few minutes, it's time to do it all over again.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Taking a walk

Now that I'm down to three goats, I have a lot of extra time.  I've never just taken my goats for a walk, though I know people who do it all the time. 

Friday was a perfect autumn day in Maine, warm, mild, with a light breeze and no insects.  True Indian Summer.  I watched the goats hanging around the barn and thought, "I need to get them out of there, but they don't have the safety in numbers they used to have."  I put Zoë on the retractable leash and set out across the field.  Not surprisingly, the goats quickly followed.

Through the orchard we went, passed through the open gate to the far field, and into the meadow;

Fiore

Leah

Hal
 


then across to the alders that grow thickly, threatening to take over if we don't keep them back.  A goat paradise. 


I've often thought I should bring in a hundred goats and just turn them loose.  In a short time they'd tame the brush and eat it all back.  Now I have only the three, but they delighted in the edges and copses.




Zoë was intrigued by some of the deer paths wending through the brush,


but kept a careful eye out for goat danger.  She was a bit leery at first.  She was, after all, on a lead, and not at all sure that she wasn't going to be goat fodder.



I sat on the ground, watching Zoë, watching Leah, watching Hal, watching Fiore, soaking up the sun and abandoning myself to the moment.



It was lovely, but after a while I headed back to the barn.  By now the goats had disappeared and gave me a start, as I couldn't find them.  What would happen if I left without them and coyotes showed up?  Back I came, and carefully listened.  A rustle here, a snap of twigs there.  More rustling.  Calling evenually brought them out and we all headed back.




I'm going to do this again before they go to their new homes.  This kind of pleasure should be indulged.