Wanna Buy a Goat?

January 22, 2008

As we all know, it’s winter. Here in Maine it’s cold and the snow is deep. Most of us love it. I have 2 very special “friends” who don’t seem to love the cold and snow, and prefer to stay inside… Gould Farm’s goats!

Our goats are a charming pair of twin Angora wetherers (neutered males) named Pablo and Picasso. Pablo and Picasso absolutely ADORE people. They’ll go to great lengths to get over, under, or through any fence. They don’t use their creative talents to search for greener pastures, they use them to search for human company.

One day last summer I heard a ruckus outside our apartment. I looked out the window to see Mr. Scheidegger (head chef etc), Mr. Rackliffe (business manger), and the goats on the patio in front of Ordway. The humans had ropes they had fashioned into lassos and the goats were running and jumping around as only goats do- run, leap into the air, spin 180 degrees, land, spring up from a stand-still, spin, run… all the while twisting their little bodies in sheer delight. They were making very good sport of the attention they were getting and the “lassos” were nowhere near them. I sensed the humans needed some help.

I stepped out of our apartment and called over, “com’ere Goats, come on Goats.” Their attention turned my direction, all gallivanting stopped, and they trotted over to my side. I felt like Little Bo Peep! Their party was over and they followed willingly back to the barn. They would’ve followed equally willingly if I had walked to town and gone into the post office. Anything for some companionship! All the running and bucking with Mr. Scheidegger and Mr. Rackliffe was just an invitation to join them for a goat walk.

Recently, because the goats don’t like the snow (It’s true! They can’t stand summer insects either! And they won’t step in puddles or mud!), they’ve been spending a lot of time in a stall in the barn. That’s fine, but remember the chicks we hatched out earlier this year? Well, they’re also in the barn, and they’re just old enough to start roosting at night. The unfortunate chicks who choose to roost on the edge of the goat stall are in for a surprise. The prankster goat, Picasso, likes to grab tail feathers and hold chickens in his mouth! I’ve been down in the barn and heard the “SquAAk SquAAAAk SquAAAAAAk!” of a nervous chicken, only to find a goat with a chicken flapping in his face. Upon seeing me he drops the chicken and spits the feathers out of his mouth. I’ve witnessed it more than a few times!

So far no chickens have been injured in the goat encounters, and I haven’t seen any chickens near the goats for a few days. None are roosting on the side of the goat stall. Chickens do learn to stay away from stir-crazy goats!

We’re having a cold snap now and most of the farm animals are well prepared for it. The chickens are puffed up like little basket balls, the sheep have about 6” of fleece, the cows and horses have thick coats. But one animal has almost no insulating fur. Our poor little pig was shivering tonight after he ate. I’ve noticed over the years that pigs often shiver after eating in the winter, then later they appear snug and warm in the dry beds they make of shavings and hay. Tonight my sympathetic side was strong and I did something for our pig that will make fleece lovers shudder. We had a couple old fleeces in the barn that we weren’t going to use (that’s enough to make some fleece lovers shudder). I laid one out as additional bedding for the pig. He nuzzled his way into the fleece and managed to practically wrap it around himself. So sleeping in the barn on Monday night we have a shig. Or maybe it’s a peep. Either way, there’s a pig in the barn who looks like a sheep, and is very happy about it!

I hope you’re all warm and in good company.

Until next week, Gloggers!


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