Monday, July 03, 2006

Pastoral Scenes and Bratty Animals

Yesterday, Mary decided to graze the animals a lot. It definitely saves on hay -- a minor expense when dealing with goats, but a bigger deal with horses. Besides, we're running out. We're going to need to get about fifteen round bales to last us a full year. Things will get better once I get some good pasture land fenced in. Meanwhile, Mary takes them around on a lead. She likes to hang out with her horse.

It would appear that Sarah (the horse) has adopted the goats as her babies. That means that she puts up with more stuff than she would otherwise.

My suggestion to Mary yesterday morning was to grab the long rope and tie a goat to each end. Then, tie the middle to a tree. Finally, she should come back for Sarah and take her out on the longe line.

The next thing I saw, she was herding four animals around, and the goats kept going under the horse and getting her wrapped up with rope. [sigh]

A bit later, I had Paul take the baby ducks out to the pen. They hang around a bit, but then squeeze out between the wires. I really need to attach chicken wire to the bottom of the fence.

Interestingly enough, the run out and follow whatever human they happen to see. It would appear that they have imprinted on us. That's good, since we got them for pets.

While that was going on, I dug the hammocks out of the bottom of the camp box and put them up. I never did get to lay in them for more than a minute or two.

But, the whole family was out there, either petting cats or ducks, or maybe goofing around in the chicken pen. They blockaded the part of the fence where the ducks like to escape, but the ducks still would occasionally escape and make a bee line to the nearest human, peeping away.

Then, Mary brought the horse and the goats to that part of the yard. The little wether was untethered, but he followed everyone else. The big does didn't really need to be tethered, either. They just hung around the horse, who was busily munching grass. Horses go for the low stuff, and prefer grass. Goats like to reach up, so they were climbing whatever they could to get the leaves off the maple and elm trees. Goats love to just grab a nibble here or there, not taking much of any one thing. They like trees, bushes, and weeds.

That's where I decided that we were making quite the pastoral scene.

But the hooves were long overdue, so Mary got the hoof trimming supplies and we went at it.

If you look in all the goat literature, they show some nice, calm farm lady standing next to a goat, who is patiently waiting there while she gets her hooves trimmed.

Yah, right. Maybe in some other life time.

First of all, standing next to a struggling goat and bending over isn't exactly good for your back. We have been through all of this before, and have tried the prescribed method. We generally ended up sitting on the front porch with the protesting goat on her side while one person held the animal and the other person did the trimming.

This time, we sat side-by-side in a couple of those plastic lawn chairs. I held a foot up while Mary trimmed. Don stood on the other side with his body against the goat so she couldn't slip away sideways. Using this method, we got the job done with a minimum of fussing and complaining.

But Meat Boy, the little wether, was too short for this method, so I just set him on my lap upside-down while Mary did the job. He complained a bit, but then decided to lay there and chew his cud. Then, little cud-breath wanted to give me a kiss. What is it with these goats, anyhow?

Today, I decided to take down that pen (a wire dog crate) that we had hanging in the shelter area. Sure enough, everyone has to see what I am doing. I must have tasty legs, because those varmints (the goats) just had to lick me behind the knee. Did you know that goat tongues are rough like cat tongues? Then, they worked at untying my boot laces.

But I got the cage down and proceeded to drag it out. I got to the door, and they were waiting for me to open it wide so that I could get the cage out.

The little snots!

I snuck out and grabbed a few flakes of hay. I tossed them over the cage and let everyone have a good much. Then, with the goats and the horse distracted, I pulled the cage out. It is now next to the chick pen with the ducks in it. They will spend most of their time there until they get too big to sneak out of the big pen. Meanwhile, they'll get plenty of attention from the kids.

But Mary likes to take her horse around on a lead for grazing. She was doing that a couple days ago just before dinner. Since she was cooking that day, she handed the horse over to me. That leaves me talking nice to this large animal as she mows our lawn for us. She particularly likes timothy hay.

It had been raining on and off that day, and it decided to go a bit 'on' just then. Big fat drops, too. I tugged the horse over to some fresh grass and hid under a tree.

Anyhow, after a bit of this, I was saved by the dinner bell.

So, I took Sarah to the shelter and led her through. But that snotty little wether ran out between the horse's legs.

I closed the door and took off after the wether. I knew exactly where he was going. He headed straight for the other side of the barn so that he could get into the storage area, sneak under the nest boxes, and get at the chicken food.

As usual, the goats decided to lean against the door. Apparently, it hadn't latched properly, because it sprung open. The goats ran out and proceeded to much on the shrubbery. The horse came out and looked at me as if to say "Ha ha ha! I'm loose!". Then, she ran straight through the woods to the front pasture. She knew exactly where she was going.

I ran to the house and told Mary what happened, then I ran over and grabbed the wether out of the chicken feeding trough. I unceremoniously dumped him over the fence and ran to the other side to get the does. Liberty was distracted, so she was easy to grab. I shoved her fuzzy butt into the pen and went for Vanessa. She artfully dodged so that I couldn't grab her collar. I grabbed her tail instead. She complained vigorously, but that gave me time to grab her collar and send her to the pen.

Then, I ran around the other side again and threw a couple cans of horse food (some kind of pellet with sweet feed mixed in) into the feed bucket and headed to the front pasture -- just in time to see Mary come back with the horse. Sarah didn't try to dodge at all. She let Mary walk up and put the rope on to her halter. Mary said that she blew into the horse's nose because that's how you tell a horse that you're its buddy. (No, I'm not making this stuff up.)

So that was fun. I wonder what kind of chaos is going to happen next.


The gratuitous photo of the day is Don't cat Moo. (When you have twenty cats, you start to run out of names.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Chickpea said...

I love the word picture you paint in this post. Even though it sounds like a day full of tribulations, you still make it sound like it beats working in an office hands down.

4:29 PM  

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