Wednesday, 7 July 2010


As a City Boy turned Country Lad I am often struck by the things that I always thought were just abstract or figures of speech, but that turn out to be rooted in the realities of farm life. For example, there are all the expressions that come from the world of poultry. Just off the top of my head: rule the roost, mother hen, mad as a wet hen, cock of the walk, hen-pecked, all your eggs in one basket... actually, I need to do a separate post on that soon.

Then there are goats. I always thought it was coincidence that we called both our young'uns and theirs kids. Turns out it's because human children act so much like - well, kids.

Putting the adult goats away at night is always easy. You grab a couple of flakes of nice alfalfa hay, scoop a cup of dairy ration, and head into the pasture. Jack (my wether and pet) sees the food and leans against you for a treat. You dodge him and head into the barn, Jack follows you, the others follow Jack. Put the hay in the hay rack, dump the ration in the trough, shut the door and leave.

But now there are kids. And they really are kids. And everyone knows that the one thing kids universally hate is to be told it's time for bed.

Tonight the routine disintegrated. I grabbed a couple of flakes of hay, scooped some ration, walked into the pasture. All the goats, kids in the rear, rushed out to meet me. So far so good. Jack leaned in for a scratch behind the ear and a handful of ration. Great.

I started toward the barn, and the adults followed me. The kids took off in the opposite direction and hid under the creep in the pasture. I tossed the ration into the trough and raised the lid on the hay rack. Little Millie, appearing from nowhere, leapt into the hay rack and flopped down on her belly before I could drop the hay. I reached in and scooped Millie out, wriggling and kicking, and put her on the floor.

Putting the hay in the rack, I went outside to look for the twins, Ricky and Lucy. Nowhere in sight. I walked around to the back of the barn just in time to see two sets of tiny hooves vanish around the next corner. I chased around after them and Lucy ran into the barn door. Ricky ran and hid under the creep. I could tell that he was hiding, because his face was under the creep. Never mind that his bum was sticking out in mid-air.

I scooped him up under my arm and carried him to the barn. Millie ran out. Ricky started to fuss, so Mary came out of the barn to see what I might be doing to her baby. I reassured her and carried Ricky in the door, and miraculously, Millie followed. Wait -- Millie, Ricky, Lucy... all in the barn. Unfortunately Mary was now out and had gone back to grazing, as the dairy ration was gone.

I asked her please to come into the barn. She did, but it took awhile. She sort of waddled-ambled-sidled into the barn. To be fair, she gave birth two weeks ago, to twins no less, and I don't expect her to move at lightning speed or anything. But she took so long, that by the time she got there everyone else had come back out, so she turned around and joined them.


So I went back to the stable and got more dairy ration and started over. Everyone went in; Ricky ran out. I chased him around the barn and he ran in. I shut the door. Whew.

Kids. Four legs or two, they hate to go to bed.

Oh, by the way, putting these goats away should especially easy, since I have a Border Collie. But that too is another story, for another day.


Jesi said...

Wow, is it like that most nights?

Goat-ama said...

Sometime it's worse. :)

Last year's kids were either not so clever, or less reluctant to go in for the night. This year's take off when they know I am going to close the door.