Itís not easy plowing a field with a goat. The plowing was not intentional. I bet you were thinking I had a cute little harness and a cute little plow attached to a stout Boer, with long plow lines going up my arms and around my shoulders so I could grip the plow handles with my hands, and me shouting, ďGee! Haw! Whoa thar, goat! Giddap now!Ē
Not quite. As Iíve mentioned in earlier stories, it was the time when the three months along bred does had to be sorted out, put into their own pasture and run-in shed to make sure they were getting enough nutrition and not being pestered. Their babies would now start putting greater and greater demands on their bodies and if you donít take care of those last two months of pregnancy, then you will be in a whole heap of trouble when the girls kid. Particularly if you are having a lot of girls kidding.
So, these girls needed to get their fair share of the grain, also special goat molasses tubs were set out for any other requirements and hopefully to prevent pregnancy toxemia in case they are packing big twins, or triplets, or quads, or more. Or, to help the little first timers not getting enough nutrition to help them with their growth, plus having a baby or two.
And, for just in case, we also set out goat protein blocks if they needed a bit more help. Having horses, we usually have those very large black rubber buckets around that have sprung a leak and arenít much good anymore. These are excellent for setting those 33 lb. protein blocks in and hang in buildings. The pregnant girls eat on the block and the powder that falls off, falls into the bucket and they get to lick that up in the bucket when the block has disappeared.
Also, we set out the best round bales for them to eat. At this stage the pregnant girls are getting stressed now and it made no sense to me to leave them out in our large herd to try and fight to get in there to get any protein blocks or peacefully eat hay with agile unbred girls thumping on them.
But, getting them out of a large herd can be tricky. We are set up better than most, having a lot of different pastures, and pens and gates to move goats from here to there, but to pick a select few of 25 or so out of 90-100 goats, now thatís tricky, at least for us.
The best we could come up with was to move the large herd of does down near the gate that we were to use to put the pregnant girls through to their own personal pen. It helped that the girls like that area to lounge around in that field. Then we would walk around among them and individually catch the pregnant girls, taking the tamer ones first.
Even the tame ones do not lead well and Lee, being tall, would simply throw a leg across their necks, hold onto their heads and start walking, like a walking catch chute. The tame ones can still sull up on you and balk. When they did that, I would come up behind and reach between their hind legs, and tickle their udder.
Oh, they canít stand that. Feeling highly insulted, they would bolt a few steps, and then I would go in and tickle their udder again. Not being milk goats, they definitely do not like this and move on out. Some of the so called wilder girls, usually when Lee throws a leg across their neck, they take off fast. I really need to carry a camera on these occasions because the sight of Lee running, holding the goatís neck between his legs and holding onto the head, well, itís a sight to behold. But, you do get to your destination fast this way. Also, you have to remember we dehorn our girls, so we can do it this way. I would not want to try this with horned girls.
Now, the ones that are wilder, they keep an eye out for Lee. If I am roaming out in the herd alone, they donít pay much attention to me, unless Iíve wormed them recently. I am not usually the muscle that catches them for treatments. So, when we caught as many of the pregnant girls as we could that day and the wilder ones were steering clear of us, we quit to try again the next evening.
The next day I was roaming around the herd that was lounging in that particular field, and I just couldnít resist. Lee was at work, it was only me, myself, and I there to catch a wildish pregnant girl or two. They wouldnít be expecting it.
Humming along, walking like I had nothing better to do, I grabbed one of the wilder girls. Now, saying a wild girl makes you think of a really wild goat that once when grabbed would leap wildly in the air, or take off at a dead run. Well, our ďwildĒ girls just have an attitude of not particularly caring for you, but donít want to particularly be real active about it. I guess they are lazy wild girls.
I caught six that day and my lazy wild girls were balkers. They didnít feel the need to fight me, so they pretty much just planted their feet into the ground and said, ďNo way.Ē So, very patiently, I kept a headlock hold on them and step by step, I pretty much dragged them to the gate. Naturally they had to be six to eight hundred feet away from the gate, but I made sure I wasnít choking them, because I didnít want to harm my girls, but they sure didnít give a fig about my well being in having to drag their heavy weight to the gate.
Step by slow dragging step, stopping to rest my aching back, and then getting back to it, step by slow plowing step, I got each girl to the gate, the whole time crooning to them that they could really walk beside me if they wanted. They ignored that suggestion and as soon as I pushed them through the gate and they found themselves in a place with run-in sheds, molasses tubs, protein blocks, wonderful hay that they didnít have to compete hardly at all for, they thought they had gone to heaven. Now that they saw what I wanted, the rats fairly trotted around, checking out their bit of heaven. Why couldnít they have seen that before I had to drag them over 600 feet?
Rubbing my aching back, I would try and catch another one until I got six and had to give it up. Iím sure the neighbors were watching and wondering what on earth I was doing dragging my goats around the field. Maybe a new exercise regime? Maybe trying to plow up a few rows to plant turnips? Maybe trying to teach the goats to keep their legs stiff to be trained to do skateboards or roller skating acts? Whatever, plowing with goats is for the birds. Iím waiting for Lee next time!