Goats are great at adapting. Take this past week-end when our time sprang forwards. Now, I love this particular time change. It gives you a little more daylight to work in the evenings, but for some reason, it's the hardest for me to get use and it usually takes me a couple of days to adjust. Not so the goats.
Saturday night I was busy changing all the clocks, putting them an hour ahead. Then, the next morning I staggered out of bed at 4:30 a.m., trying very hard not to think that it was really 3:30 a.m., built a fire in the upstairs wood stove, warmed up milk for the bottle babies down at the barn, and then sleepily put the bottles in the Kubota RTV and drove down to the barn. When it's icy or very muddy, I don't walk down the hill to the barn anymore for fear of falling with my old knee and my new knee.
So, basically I arrived at the barn at what would have been 4 a.m. in the other time change, but in this one it was 5 a.m., the usual time I start chores. I slid open the barn door and turned on the lights and momma goats and babies were lying there going, “What? What? What's going on?” And, very slowly staggered to their feet to see what I was up to.
Well, naturally the seven bottle babies jumped to attention and were ready for their bottles. The others still seemed a bit fuddled. They weren't going to refuse breakfast though and I grained, hayed, watered everyone in the barn, and the ones near the barn in the closer pens and also the bucks. And, it was still pitch black outside. But, I always keep flashlights in my coat pockets for just such occasions because we never know how late we are going to be out, and we definitely knew we'd be out early. The goats all seemed confused at the earlier hour but recognized the flashlight and decided to go along with it.
The next morning I got up at 4:30 a.m. and heard goats hollering over the baby monitors down at the barn. Well, good grief, they must have already set their clocks forward and insisting they liked this new time change. How can they adapt that quickly, knowing the new schedule that fast? Amazing.
By the time I made it to the barn and slid the door open, all the goats were standing with their front feet on their stall doors, hollering to me, alert and ready to eat. “Get a move on, dearie. You are at least a minute late. Chop, chop, now. Let's see some snap in those barn boots.” They all seemed to be saying.
Goats can learn to adapt to new schedules, new places to eat or bed down, whatever, faster than any farm animal I've ever seen. It sort of creepy. It's like they are a collective, all with one mind, working together. If you are a Star Trek fan, like I am, you instantly think of the Borg and worriedly start checking them for machine parts, part goat part machine and in compliance with each other, knowing each others thoughts.
And, you don't dare be ten minutes late on the schedule. Such a scream starts up, not only from the adults but the babies too. They are shouting, “Resistance is futile! You must be on time.”
Not only time, but goats are very adaptable to people, I've noticed. They don't care who you are, they will follow you anywhere, if you only add one accessory to your wardrobe, a feed bucket. If it's a bottle baby, dangle a bottle in front of them and they are yours. In fact, a bottle baby may be even more adaptable about people. Just be a people and they will assume that you have a bottle on you somewhere.
If I call “Babies” and clap my hands, they come running because they know I will usually have something good for them to eat, if nothing more than opening a gate to change their pastures, they adapted to the name “Babies” and hand clapping. I had a friend that had a pond with a bunch of ducks. She use to go out and throw corn to her ducks and yell, “Ducks. Ducks.” and the ducks would come running and her few goats caught on to this treat too. When her goat herd grew larger, they still remembered this special treat and whenever this lady wanted her goats, she just shouted, “Ducks! Ducks!” Thought the ducks were long gone by this time, the goats always remembered the call and the good things to come.
Yes, adaptability is a goat's middle name. I just wished that whenever I stepped outside they would quit saying, “Resistance is futile.”