Every year it always amazes me that I have to nip in the bud a bit of delinquency in my baby goats and yearlings. Iíve got the adult goats trained to be mainly law abiding citizens of the farm, but those youngsters, itís an ongoing process. Many of the youngsters are heavily into breaking and entering, pick pocketing, vandalizing, and a bit of pounding on your body if they really like you.
Itís hard to decide if this is all feeling good and just high jinx on their part, or if I am breeding a bunch of scoundrels. Take for instance a couple of days ago, I had walked through the yearling field to go and check on the older does in the next field. The gate between the two is a lovely pipe gate latched with a hook chain catch and another chain attached to the gate and hooked over a large bent nail in the post.
Coming back through, naturally all the yearling girls were waiting for me. As I put the second latch chain over the big bent nail, Rainy Dancer very carefully watched how I did it and then grabbed the end of the chain and with a quick flip had it off the nail before I knew what happened. It was just down right impressive. She learned so quickly by watching me, and was so agile in doing that with her mouth.
You know, people think the monkey is so intelligent because he has thumbs, they just never have tested baby goats. The little split in their lip makes them extremely impressive in what they can achieve. Iíve tied up feeders, using quadruple knots, and by the time I came back with more hay rope, only gone minutes, the baby goats would have it all untied, and have the feeder on the ground standing in it.
Tie up cattle panels to T posts and theyíll have it all untied and down on the ground before you know it. No, not chewed in two, but carefully untied. Sure, the hay string is a bit soggy, but itís all carefully untied. The only way to keep panels up is to tie so many hay strings on it that they eventually get bored and walk away. You still might have a string or two left holding it all together.
Now, sometimes they do get plain olí bored and will just stand there and actually chew on string, making it a wet frayed mess, but usually, everything is neatly untied. In many of our stalls, we have a string that hangs from the overhead light that you just pull to turn the light on. Itís not a long string, just right for me to reach, but after the young goats watch me come in and turn on the lights that way, they learn. Standing on tippy toes on their hind legs, theyíll mightily stretch, grab the string in their mouths and just happily turn the lights on and off. I looked down one evening and I thought a psychedelic light show was going on in the barn with as many lights that were going on and off.
Thereís always a bunch of pick pockets in the group. Those happy little kids that jump up on you to say Hi, and then look lovingly in your face and as soon as you look away, their little noses are in your coat pockets pulling everything out. Iíve found my gloves, Kleenex, various medicines I carry for the goats, flashlights, even walkie talkies strewn all over the place. Some kids are subtle about picking your pockets, others jump up and put their front feet in your pockets and youíll be dragging two or three kids on each side trying to walk. Needless to say, I have a lot of ripped coat pockets.
And, then jumping and pounding on you is a favorite with friendly delinquent kids. I donít know how many times I have bent over to pick up a water bucket and have kids attack me from behind. Taking a running go and jumping up with their front feet and pushing. Iíve ended doing impressive flips or diving head first into the wall.
Vandalizing is a favorite with these ornery kids. Take last night, we weaned two little buck boys, putting them in a large stall. Oh, it broke their hearts. They stood and cried and cried, and then cried some more with mouthfuls of grain and hay. At eleven oíclock last night they were still hollering and bouncing off their stall door. And, then it got quiet. I thought, they have finally accepted their fate and had given up.
At five twenty this morning, Lee walked into the barn first and turned on the lights and there to greet him were two happy buck boys. The barnís aisle way was a total wreck. They had knocked over anything that would knock over, tore up all the hay and spread it all over the aisle way, whatever they could get into, they did. No wonder they had shut up last night, they were having a ball. They had bounced off their stall door so much that the latch came undone and the door had opened for vandalizing freedom for the little scoundrels.
Fortunately, as my baby and juvenile delinquents get older, Iíve worked enough with them and know their scoundrel ways, they just settle down. They become wonderful law abiding goats. Now, temptation does become too strong if we forget and leave a gate open, then they just have to go there and snoop. Or, if you are silly enough to carry a feed bucket into a big herd of does, they just have to mug you for that bucket. In situations like that, always remember to throw the bucket in the air and run and let them go for the bucket. Then, for goodness sakes, donít go tempting them again by carrying a grain bucket in among them.
Oh, wait a minute. Those little buck boys are quiet again. You know what happened when they got quiet like that last time. Gotta go and see what they are doing. And, remember, donít give up on those little scoundrels, eventually theyíll become law abiding citizens.