Iím starting to think I have a really good circus act. Here I thought I was being a goat farmer, instead I have a circus troupe (me and the goats) that really should go on the road.
All these years I have regularly been knocked over, bowled over, flipped over by goats. We donít want to forget the backing up and tripping over sleeping goats, being overwhelmed by the herd, and also accidentally riding a goat off a steep hill. I just didnít realize I was in training to form my own circus act.
Just because I am getting older doesnít mean that accident goat prone days are lessening. Iíve just got more creative in how an older person can still get into trouble and actually survive.
Take for instance the other evening. As many of you know, we just use round hay bales now. Handling square bales is too hard on old backs when you can easily let the tractor handle the round baled hay. We go to the hay farmer and he uses his tractor to load the round bales onto our flatbed trailer, or if just two bales, in the back of our ĺ ton truck. We donít have to touch the hay to load. Get home and let our tractor unload the hay.
We feed by setting the round bales outside on pallets, wrap a cattle panel around it and tie the panel ends with strings or snaps. This keeps the goats from climbing on top the bales and seeing who can be the first one to use the bathroom. We disbud all goats born on the place so there is no problem for them sticking their heads through to eating the hay with a cattle panel, even the few horned girls we have stay fat and get plenty of hay.
Some farmers use gates around the round bales if they have a lot of horned girls, even dehorned girls. We like the cattle panels. Throw a tarp over the top of the bale, or even the old truck bed liners people are wanting to get rid of, and the hay is protected. We have started putting up what you might call car ports, or hay ports, with 4 posts and put a roof on that and putting the round bales under that with the cattle panel wrapped around the bale. This provides shelter not only for the hay being fed, but the goats eating it.
Need to feed hay in stalls? We set a round bale in the barn aisle way on itís flat end and unwind the hay to fork over to animals or carry where we need it. Now this one evening the round bale was in a run-in shed for our seven month old baby girls. I like to peel the round bale and spread it around in the cattle panel so itís evenly distributed for everyone with short necks, like the weanlings, to reach.
As the bale gets lower and lower, I find I can climb up on the panels and if the bale is half or more eaten down, I can climb up four or five rungs, lean over the top of the panel and distribute the hay around. Now if the bale is low enough, the panel will actually bow in slightly towards the center with my weight, just enough for me to really reach down deep and lift up layers I may want to take somewhere else or just spread more evenly around.
Itís a lot of fun doing this. Your weight on the panel swings you into the center and with just a little push the panel sort of pops you back out again. Itís like a very safe trapeze act, swinging inwards and outwards this way.
My baby girls have been watching me do this since they were born and knew that fresh new hay would appear for them when I climbed up on the panel. They would all stand back appreciatively waiting for me to spread the wealth around inside the panel.
That day, for some unknown reason, several got very excited with me climbing up on the panel and swinging into the center of the three fourths eaten round bale. Once again the panel bent beautifully so I could swing inward and dig into the hay.
The girls seemed to say ďWHOOPIE!Ē and two girls to the left of me and two more to the right of me leapt on the panel with me, pushing their weight against the panel wire. Before I knew it we all were leaned way too far inward with our noses almost in the hay.
Of course, the girls were ecstatic. They could stay there and eat hay from the center, but I was floundering. I was lying almost flat in the hay, on the panel, no way to get back up with the combined weight of those hefty little girls on the panel. It couldnít pop me back upright as it usually did.
ďGirls! Girls! Get off!Ē I really should have thought that request out, but who would have ever thought they would have listened?
The other baby girls had been running laps around the hay bale, excited over their roommates being on the panel beside me, then suddenly the girls who were with me got excited too and bounded off the panel to go flying around with the other girls.
Now what happens when a lot of weight suddenly gets off a bowed tight wire like the cattle panels? Exactly, I felt myself being launched backyards with great speed. I hung on for dear life to keep from being thrown to the back of the run-in shed and sort of vibrated there until the panel settled down. Cautiously, I stepped down off the panel, feeling very surprised that I hadnít been launched into space.
I may rethink this circus act. Being the Flying Goatzannies might be too much excitement for me in my advancing years, but Iím sure the goats might sign up to go on the road.