Goat Wars and the Underfoot Nation

Mini-Nubian Buckling
Mini-Nubian Buckling

Becoming a homesteader is, you know, not that big a deal.  You read a little here and there, and jump on in.  How hard could it be?  What is there really to know?

Not only is that the typical, overly-optimistic sentiments of an empire-spoiled American, but man…where were my ancestors of long ago to smack some sense into me when I had that kind of thinking going on?  So it should be no surprise, and I imagine excellent fodder for my long-dead ancestral audience watching over my shoulder, that I only just got smarter then my goats about five days ago.

Up until that point, it had almost devolved into all out war.  Now I am first of all thankful that I have Nigerian Dwarf goats, and not a whole herd of Nubians that could have really laid me out if they wanted to.  I can still pick most of my does up, so when it comes to terminator wrestle-mania, I do have the upper hand.  I have thus far figured out that when you buy an adult doe from someone (“Oh boy—and she’s in milk!”), that what that means is she is a cull from another farm because…(a) she is a bitch, (b) she is smarter then most people, (c) she was retired from the military for being too mean, (d) all of the above.

To think I started milking without a stanchion.  I am not even going to tell those stories.

I had to devise a stanchion where basically a person could, I suppose, make a goat bondage sort of film.  One of my beloved does (and I do love her—she’s the smartest doe I have), has to be tied in 2-5 places, depending upon her mood.

So, I am thinking—fill up the bowl with tasty oats, and they will let me milk them while they are distracted (they eat fast—lots of oats).  That lasted about thirty seconds.  Goats are multi-taskers .  Then came the ties.  That worked for a while, but then recently they would chew and thrash and fight and I was getting war-weary.  I tried head-butting them, but that just made them laugh I think.

Then it dawned on me.  They keep demanding more and more grain as I try to milk.  I took Kore, the matriarch of the herd by the horns and we had a discussion.  I told her that this was it.  She could have the grain after we milked, and only if she was good.  This was after we had had a tough go-‘round.  I warned the other two girls in milk, too.  Stand there and get milked, or else no grain. I tied the ties, strapped the straps, and WOW!  It worked.  I guess they had figured that as long as I was the sucker giving out grain for free, screw it.

Now they chew their cud and wait for their grain after we are finished milking, and I can pet them and tell them how great they are instead of threatening to make them into chops for the dogs.  I have time to think back to a few years ago when I was imagining skipping through the forest with farm animals hanging out, free-ranging, la-tee-da-tee da….that was before I knew that they were all members of the Underfoot Nation.

Lily--Holstein Heifer Calf
Lily–Holstein Heifer Calf

I do have a substantial number of species free-ranging at a given time, but now it is more because I am still fencing and less because I am an idiot suburban person who read a bunch of online nonsense about how idyllic life is with animals running all over you.

What they failed to mention, and what I will mention, is that they all seem to belong to this apparent union  that humans were not told about.  It has something to do with buckets, and the fact that I have apparently invisible resources upon my person containing things like grain.

Grain is evil.  It is like crack.  They think they must have it.

It is either that, or they are trying to figure out how to do me in so they can eat me.  A couple of pigs did try to taste me once or twice, and I know the chickens are quite capable of it, if I were to lie still long enough.

Avie--Nigerian Dwarf Buck
Avie–Nigerian Dwarf Buck

Try walking a foot.  I dare you.  You will, immediately out of no where, have any number of turkey legs, goose feet, chickens, and occasionally goats and a pig or two (they do so love to get out to see what I am up to) under your shoe.  Oh, and dogs and cats, too, because they want to see what everyone else thinks is going on.  So, each step is akin to my being in some black-and-white silent movie routine.  I just need a cane and a mustache and I am ready to go.

Darla--Ophidian Black-Capped White Kitteh
Darla–Ophidian Black-Capped White Kitteh

It is not enough to just follow me around.  Oh no.  They have to, like dolphins around a boat, ride the crest and fall of each attempt to put a foot somewhere towards the direction that I want to go in.   It doesn’t matter if I step on someone (and I try not to), that just seems to solidify their desire to step up the pace of foot-shadow dancing.

Ohhhhh.  That’s what pens are for.  Duh duh duh duh duh.   Now everybody go to your room!

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