I sincerely think goats mean to be helpful, just sometimes something gets lost in the process. I should say most tame goats want to be helpful, the wild ones prefer you stay in one county and they in another. A few wild ones are even antagonistic and if they could put a hit on you, they would. I mean hire someone else to take you out, not them. They couldnít bare to touch you. Some of the wild ones are simply terrified of you, thinking you are the biggest, baddest booger they have ever seen. But, those tame or semi-tame ones are always looking for ways to be helpful.
Take for example the other day. I have a young doe in a kidding stall with her two kids. This makeshift kidding stall happens to have a large manger type hay feeder in it for horses. It is nailed to the wall, two foot off the ground so rats canít find a neat place to hide. To keep baby kids from hiding under the wooden horse hay manger and to cut down on drafts, we nailed up thick cardboard all around the bottom of the manger. Oddly enough, the goats leave this cardboard alone.
One day I hear this muffled calling of a kid. I go into this particular kidding stall and there is the doe and just one kid, the other kid is missing. I check the other kidding stalls and heís not in any of them and then I hear him. Somehow, when he and his brother were curled up against the cardboard and then mom laid down, she accidentally pushed the missing guy under the cardboard to the underside of the manger area and the flap closed back and he couldnít get out. It took me a while to figure how he got into an enclosed place. It was like an Agatha Christie who-done-it mystery involving locked doors, er, cardboard.
The cardboard was too thick for my little knife to cut a hole for him to crawl out through and I couldnít just ripe this thick cardboard off, it was nailed on tight. So, I got down on my knees and started digging the hay bedding away from the cardboard until I got to the bottom. While I was doing this, the young doe got down on her knees, with rump up in the air, beside me and talked to the kid and me, giving us both encouragement that we could do it and he was going to make it just fine. She would even turn her head and look me full in the face, while she was on her knees, making encouraging noises to me like, "You can do it. Weíve almost got him. Keep up the good work."
As soon as I found the corner of the stiff cardboard and bowed it outward, lifting it a few inches from the floor, the little kid came crawling out, digging in with his little knees or all he was worth, and got out from under the manger that had him trapped. It was a wonderful reunion of mom and son and brother and brother and a great celebration of nursing soon followed, with the mom happily thanking me for finding her long lost son.
An artic snap set in for over two weeks and I wouldnít turn the new moms and kids out of the main barn yet to their run-in sheds. One chilly morning I heard a doe making mournful sounds. I went to that same stall and there stood the doe, but both kids were missing. I didnít bother to check the other kidding stalls. I got down on my knees again and started digging the hay bedding away to get to the corner of the cardboard to lift up. The doe stood there giving me encouragement, the kids started crying out for me to hurry, that it was dark in there, and when I lifted the corner a few inches, mom wanted to make sure it was her kids. She hurriedly got down on her front knees and poked her head through the opening I had made and called and then hurriedly backed out because two kids were trying to crawl over her head to get out. Once again another happy reunion followed.
That night Lee cut out a hole in the cardboard with a flap like a doggie door. That way the kids could still be protected from outside drafts, but could also get out if they got rolled under the cardboard. We did run into one snag when Lee found the mom with her head through the doggie door like hole and thought she couldnít get it back out, so Lee had to make the doggie door a bit bigger and that worked.
But, the whole time the doe did her best to help in this, as she saw it, desperate situation involving missing kids. And, usually thatís the way tame goats are, always trying to be helpful.
Say, for instance, you are trying to build something in the goat barn or pen. You will always have a bunch of tame goats hanging around trying to give you a hand, er, hoof. Theyíll try to pick up your hammer for you, try to hand you the nail can or nail bag. Or, thinking the nail bag would be better at the other end of the barn, carry it down there. Walk on any boards you are trying to measure out and cut, just to make sure the board is strong enough or the right length for their goat barn.
You do have to watch out for a few kleptomaniacs who like to steal things. They are usually the younger kids, not fully understanding that stealing is wrong. You lie down your coat or your work gloves and when you go to get them, they arenít there. They are out in the middle of the field and not a goat in sight. You know your belongings didnít walk out there by themselves.
We still have some tools missing from trying to build on the goat barn with the goats helping. Iím sure they just took them to polish them up and just forgot to bring them back. Tame goats just really want to be helpful and they try so hard. Itís just that I really miss my spare winter coat and gloves. And, that one hammer was one that Lee got me for our anniversary. Maybe if I explain it all to them, the goats will help me go out in the fields and look for them. Or, if I lay down another hammer, I can follow the one that picks it up and find all my missing things. Whatever. Goats really just want to help.