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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Goat tricks

I love goat tricks.  Not tricks that I teach them, but the little quirky things they do that make them so endearing.

Fedra decided early on that a large round feeder was perfect for sleeping in. She retires early so she gets first dibs; once she's bedded down, there's no argument about whose spot it is. 

I had thought to catch dropped hay under the hanging slowfeeders with another round feeder.  Silly me, I should have known that would not happen.  As soon as Fedra eyed it, that became her lounging area.

She wasn’t reckoning on Dandy, though, who watched for a day or two and then appropriated the “bed”. It doesn’t fit her nearly as well as it fits Fedra; she almost pours out of it.  Goats do like snug little spots and Dandy is no exception. so I shouldn’t have been surprised to come out one morning and find her all curled up.  


To her credit, Fedra took it in stride.

Dandelion is my most amusing goat, always up to something that makes me smile.  Take the milking stanchion, for example.  The barn is built on a hill, so in truth, the "ground" floor is two stories high on one side. The window in the milk room overlooks the downhill slope, and every day Dandy pauses to gaze out the window for several moments, observing the pasture and treeline, ascertaining dangers that might lurk for unsuspecting goats.  

Once she’s satisfied, she grabs another bite of Chaffhaye before heading out the door.  It's important not to leave any morsel untouched.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Grass is Always Greener

When I was a small child, 'way back in the '50's,  we used to watch a Boston-based TV show, "Big Brother Bob Emery".  He always opened the show by singing "The Grass is Always Greener" to the accompaniment of his ukelele.

     Oh, the grass is always greener
     in the other fellow's yard.
     The little row
     we have to hoe,
     Oh boy that's hard.
     But if we all could wear
     green glasses now,
     it wouldn't be so hard
     to see how green the grass is
     in our own back yard.

I think of that song often when I see my goats in the yard.  Mind you, they have about 30 acres of pasture, not including all the brush and trees which they can munch on anytime they wish. There's just something about a fence that a goat must challenge.

Yesterday I looked out to see them cropping grass on the lawn.  A bit later they'd jumped the fence for the dog's yard and were munching in there.  They made the rounds, wandering over to the Rosa rugosa bushes and wiping them clean of rosehips, exploring the remains of the garden plot (which I did not plant this year since they wiped it out last year), then discovering and eating, with gusto, the chrysanthemum in the planter by the house.

The paddock, the orchard, and the far pasture.  Beyond those trees is a multi-acre field with copses of trees and brush.

Another pasture, the front pasture, which extends beyond the photo, to the right.  Lots of trees and brush there, too.

Off to the left, there's a hill and another field that can't be seen.  They frequent that pasture in the summer when the upkeep on the fences is more stringent.  You can see that there's plenty of room to roam, graze, and browse.

And this is where they want to be, right outside the house. Okay, I admit it, the grass really is greener on the other side.

 Zoë is still a source of fascination. Enlarging the picture (click on it) will reveal Zoë on the step by the side door of the barn.  Some of the does are watching her, but she's oblivious, having interesting smells to explore.

Fedra and Dolly, especially, wanted to keep an eye on that dog.

After a while they wandered to the other side of the house...

Hannah just had to introduce herself.  Zoë seemed to be more leery than Hannah.

They really enjoyed those flowers.  I was not as thrilled.

Finally they wandered back toward the gate.  The source of interest for all of them?  
Zoë, of course.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First hard frost

It was bound to come, the first heavy frost, and come it did.  When I looked out the window, the scene was white and frosty, but full of its own particular beauty. 

It didn’t slow down the goats any, either.  They still rushed out to the orchard when I opened the gate.  They were noticeably disappointed, though.  The apples didn’t seem quite as tasty as the days before.  Usually, nothing can call them away from those lovely drops, but this time, when they noticed me watching them, camera in hand, they considered there must be better prospects elsewhere.   


Friday, October 16, 2015

Zoë on the farm

Zoë, my Fox Terrier loves to be outside, wants to have the freedom to run, but will take off if not watched.  Rather than leave her in the house or in the fenced in yard, I've been making a concerted effort to take her with me everywhere I can and just keep an eagle eye on her. 

Zoë loves having newborn kids in the house, sniffs and licks them, and tries to play with them, right up to when they learn how to play in their very goaty way--by heat butting.

Obviously, she's become very leery of older goats (meaning, anything bigger than her) so, when she sees them coming, she goes the other way.

Wednesday I took her with me when I saw the goats in the orchard. I knew I'd shut them out of there, but they've figured out how to go through the woods, up the gully, and into the orchard to eat the apples. As I walked over to the goats, hoping to move them to the other pasture, Zoë explored.  It wasn't long before Beatrice, my herd queen, noticed a little white dog sniffing around and rolling on the ground. Before long, all the others had noticed her, too, and went to investigate. So there was Bea, heading curiously but purposefully toward that dog spot, and it became comical when she reached out her nose to sniff her.  By that time, more goats were curious and were heading her way.  Zoë, of course, headed back to the barn--with all the goats following. 

 Who needs a herd dog? I have a Pied Piper instead.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Putting the bucks together

Big day today--I thought. After 5 days, I thought it was time to put the bucks together, and I was apprehensive. As usual, I worried for nothing. They postured for about 5 minutes, and then all was well. The biggest thing turned out to be the new buck trying to mount my little guy, Fabian, as if he were a doe. Even that didn't last more than 5 minutes. I thought he was going to be timid, as he is with people, but nope! He told Set in no uncertain terms to BACK OFF. And my big buck, Mime, just calmly put him in his place and walked away.
Last I looked they were all sniffing each other over. I'm sure Set is much happier having company, and I'm happier releasing a stall back to the does so they don't have to sleep in the aisleway.

By this evening, the only thing I noticed was that the usual two were in the buck house and Set was outside. Since there was a light rain, I brought them all in a little early. Once in, all was well. They settled down to munching on hay and boy talk.

Life is good.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Common Ground Country Fair

      I had to make a decision:  go to the Farmington goat show and compete, a one day commitment, or go to the Common Ground Country Fair and be there for three days.  I opted for the Common Ground Fair.  On Thursday September 24th, I loaded 2 adults and 2 kids, all Sables, into the back of the Toyota Camry Wagon and off we went.  I had been there on Wednesday, preparing the pen, bringing hay, grain, chair so I could sit down occasionally during the weekend, and feeders. They settled in well, and I left, confident that the volunteers would watch over them.

       The next morning I arrived at 7:30, unloaded a few things I'd forgotten, and then found a spot in the parking lot.  I was amazed!  The fair didn't open until 9:00, but the parking lot was already filling up.  It felt good to show my exhibitor's pass and walk past the long lines. When I got to my goats, I felt even better; they were calm and settled in, interested in everything that was going on, and getting along with each other (happily for Fedra, the newest addition to the herd).  I gave them grain and Chaffhaye, changed their water, filled their hay bags, and waited for the rush.

     We were next to Tramps-Rest goats.  Charlie Hopkins has three breeds of goats, all the Swiss breeds: Toggenburgs, Saanens, and Oberhasli.  My Sables completed the lineup of Swiss breeds, though technically they are colored Saanens, not a separate breed at all.

I love Charlie's sense of humor.  His sign says "Furtha, Maine" and when someone asks where that is, he replies "Oh, it's just a little furtha down the road."

Oberhasli and polled Saanen does

Saanen does
Toggenberg does

     And rush it was!  Busloads of students from schools in the area, all wanting to pet all the goats.  Of course, the CGCF staff had put up signs that said "Fingers look like carrots!  Do not touch the animals.)  Well...that may be true for some animals (I certainly wouldn't stick my hand near a pig), but goats don't have upper teeth, and though they nibble on clothes, papers, and anything else that's close by, they're not generally biting animals, so I allowed the children to stroke and pet them.

     Fedra was the poster girl for Sables, schmoozing at the gate from the beginning, though occasionally the crowds would thin and she'd head for the back to rest.  Being the center of attention is exhausting work!

Time for a rest

Dolly stood in the center of the stall, interested in everything, but still not wanting to venture forth. Occasionally she'd stretch forth her neck, just barely touching someone's outstretched hand, but she just couldn't quite bring herself to do more.

Hannah stayed at the back of the stall relaxing for a while, gradually coming closer and closer, nibbling on hay near the gate, or lying just out of reach, until noonish, when she just couldn't ignore the attention Fedra was getting.  She butted Fedra out of the way so she could get her share.  Fascination?  Well, she was fascinated by everything that was happening, but couldn't bring herself to do more than watch.

Day 2 saw Fedra and Hannah competing for attention, but by the afternoon, Dolly had gotten braver.  I fed them all some apple pieces and that was the cue for Dolly to abandon her fear and (cautiously) take pieces from others' hands.  Fascination occasionally came to the gate, but always looking to her dam (Dolly) for reassurance.  Olivia, my helper, ran interference for Fedra.  When Dolly and Hannah ran her off, Olivia would just take her out and let her get personal attention.  So there!  Fedra really was the hit of the Sables.  The biggest problem was that she was ready to wander around and say hello to everyone.

Fedra on the outside
 Charlie gave milking demonstrations during the fair, and I gave some hoof trimming demonstrations.  I'm sure the milking demos were much more fun, since they were hands-on.  The children loved them! And Charlie's goats are old pros at the fair, having been there before and knowing the routine.

Day 3 was slower and quieter, still lots of people, but not nearly as hectic as the previous two days.  I do believe my goats had a good time!  They were engaged, friendly, and got into the whole fair atmosphere, loving the attention, ooh's and ah's, and even looking for people during the lulls, just like Charlie's old pros.



Charlie's old pros

After trekking in from the public parking lots for 2 days, I discovered that there was a parking area just for livestock exhibitors close by, an easy walk.  Ha!  I should have asked sooner.  At least I was able to park there the last day, making it a lot easier to pack up my goats and go home.  They had a lot to tell the others when we got back to the barn.  I can just imaging the conversations:  "And then this little girl came over...  And you should have seen..."

The fair was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.  I may just do it again next year.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


     Yesterday I brought Fedra, Violet's doeling, home.  She's been with Violet at Shivering Stars Farm in Plymouth.  Violet changed owners in June, but Heather graciously agreed to keep Fedra until weaning time.

     She's a little lonely, but you can sure tell her mother is the herd queen.  She doesn't back down at all.  She's been sniffing noses with everyone through the stall gate, and last night she shared a stall with Dolly and Fascination.  Today the three and Hannah were together in the paddock area until about 4:00, then I let the whole herd into the orchard, where they raced to the downed apples.  Yum!

     Normally, I wouldn't introduce anyone new this quickly, but Common Ground Fair is coming up and the four will be penned together for the weekend, as they demonstrate for everyone what Sables look like.  And of course, I know the herd she came from and the care she got, so no unwelcome surprises in the offing.