Goats have a hard time training us. Humans do tend to be hard headed, contrary, a bit flighty, suspicious, and at meal time, very demanding on what we want on our plates. Wait a minute, that sounds vaguely familiar.
Take the bottle baby, who for some reason or other does not have a momma goat to feed it and is stuck with humans. They are hungry and want something to eat immediately and then look at us. We take the hint on this one and jump to attention, finding out what a bottle baby needs, how much, and immediately try to help the little feller.
For example, being left handed, I will hold a brand new bottle baby in my lap, facing left, and with my left hand hold the bottle. This is the way my bottle baby learns until eventually you teach them to take a bottle while they are standing. So, when Lee steps in to help with the brand new bottle baby and he puts the bottle in his right hand and they are facing to the right, they basically say, No. Their training of humans has begun.
Lee is sharper than most humans and after fussing and fuming for a few minutes, he catches on to what the kid wants. So, he faces the kid to the left, holds the bottle in his left hand, the kid is content and will eat, and all is right with the world.
The same with teaching the new bottle kid about standing and taking a bottle. Some, there is no way for a while. They teach us to haul an unusually large kid up in our laps, heís hanging over the lap all over the place, and thatís the way he takes his bottle, period. Fortunately for our laps, most bottle kids will eventually learn to take a bottle while standing.
If you have several you have to bottle feed, we use this contraption that will hold 4 bottles at a time. They will learn to eat from this because it makes sense, they get their meal faster without having to wait in line. They approve. But, speaking about in line, if they are use to eating at a certain place, beside a certain other kid, well! They can train you pretty fast in how to wait until they are lined up right, and then you can offer them their bottles.
And, please donít go and say, use the bucket feeder. Iím sorry, I canít be trained to it. I donít have a kid to show me how. The times I have used this with the multiple nipples and a batch of bottle kids, I have always had one super sucker in the bunch that downed most the milk before the others got started. I know what you will say, put canning jars with the right amount of milk in each jar inside the bucket and then offer it to the kids. That way they will only get what they are suppose to get.
All I can see is a whole lot of washing up of individual jars, plus the bucket, nipples, straw tubes. The jars make sense but a lot more work. So, until a kid comes along and can train me to it, the bucket feeding is out, and Iíll continue on with the bottles in a holder feeder. They have trained me well on those.
The adult goats put a lot of training time in on humans, too. How else would we know what time to feed them if they didnít tell us? Of course, they like to see how sharp we are and sometimes insist the new schedule is at least six times a day and snacks in between. But, we humans know itís once or twice a day. We remember the books and articles weíve read from other humans, whose goat trainers told them to study and get degrees on such things.
Our goats have me so well trained, that if they even look at their hay feeders and mention they are empty, itís instant. Iím on the job. In fact, I keep checking before they even mention it any more. I want to make sure the goats realize that I am an over achiever, willing to be trained in goatly things.
The pregnant does are even better trainers. Hang a baby monitor up in the barn to listen and every whistle, snort, snore, and Iím down there, checking to make sure they are all right and if there is anything they might need. Sometimes I think they check my time among themselves on just how long it takes me to get to the barn by doing trial runs. ďOkay, Snookums, itís your turn to grunt and letís see how long it takes Connie to get to the barn. I bet Lee gets here before sheís even out the door.Ē
Training humans is an art. We humans try it on each other all the time. But, who really has it down pat is the goats we raise. If we could learn from them, Iím sure we could eventually train ourselves to be as useful as the goats find us, er, have trained us to be. Ooops, the weanling girls are hollering that itís supper time. As usual, they are right.