I ran into a slight problem doing all the chores when Lee had to have surgery for his Mortonís Neuroma. Whatís Mortonís Neuroma? As I understand it, itís quite common. This is when a bunch of nerves in the foot get all bundled up into a knot and hurts like the dickens. Like having something the size of a marble in your shoe that you have to walk on all the time. Extremely painful and can start crippling up the toes. Solution? It has to be cut out and then for a couple of weeks you are pretty much off your feet to try and get it to heal.
So, what was my slight problem other then doing chores with 160 head of goats helping me? I couldnít milk our chosen milk goat. That had been Leeís job morning and evening. The arthritis in my hands just went on strike every time I attempted it. We had only two bottle babies this time and we thought it a brilliant plan to take one of the more tractable Boer does and milk her, saving us money on milk replacer and giving the two kids excellent nutrition. But, we hadnít thought about a surgery putting a kink in our well laid plans.
And, you couldnít find a better mannered, friendlier doe then the six year old, reg. 94%, Sparkle to be our chosen milk goat for this particular job. When I told Lee that evening after his surgery that I just couldnít milk her, he suggested me leading her up to the house from the barn and he would hobble out on his crutches and milk her.
People driving by got to see an unusual sight. A man sitting on a bucket with his crutches leaning up against the fence near the house, his hugely bandaged right foot encased in a big plastic bag, to keep the bandages dry, with a dog collar holding the bag on, milking a goat tied to the fence. When he was through, I came and got the goat and lead her back down the hill to the barn.
Since I was already doing a lot of walking feeding goats in the pastures, pens, stalls, hauling hay, water, opening gates, closing gates, depending on where we were wanting to graze the goats, we started thinking real hard on how to convince Sparkle to take herself the eighty yards up the hill to the house morning and evening to be milked and bring herself back when Lee was through.
Hmmmmm. I hunted through the paper for Obedience Training for Goats and couldnít find a class anywhere. I even looked in the yellow pages for Goat Whisperer to see if someone could train Sparkle for this particular feat. Nothing. Iím not much of a goat trainer myself, not being able to train them to heel or fetch or sit on command. But, I do have them so if I shake even a can of grain, the goats will all come and try to mug you and take it away. I bet if you shook a tiny teacup of grain and the girls were at the very end of the farm, they could hear it and come stampeding.
Following this line of thought, teaching Sparkle this trick could be doable. I tied a feeder on the fence near the house and put a big bucket of grain in the garage that Lee could use. His sitting bucket was put by the feeder. A trial run was needed to see if this could work. Sparkle was easy to get hold of since she was being kept in a stall, fed well, and allowed to graze in the evenings and then put back in the stall.
That morning I led Sparkle out of her stall and out the barn. Lee was on his crutches by the feeder at the house. He shook the can of grain at Sparkle and called her name. Sparkle took off like a shot, almost taking me with her, zeroed in on Lee and the feeder, and while she was happily munching grain, Lee milked her. When he was through, he untied her and hollered to me at the barn.
I stood in front of the barn and shook a can of grain. Like another shot, she was down that hill to me. I lead her back to her stall and gave her some grain. That evening we tried it again. She was liking this a lot. The next day I didnít even bother to lead her out of her stall, I opened the door and told her to come on. Out she flew and up the hill to get fed by Lee and get milked. When he was finished and untied her, down she flew to the barn and she followed me back to her stall to get the rest of her grain. Good girl!
Now, letís see, I wonder if I can teach the rest of the goats to trim their own feet, do their own worming when needed, and to clean up after themselves after spending a night in the barn. Oh, wait a minute, I donít have to go to all that trouble in training. The goats have it figured. They have something called a Connie and Lee to do all that for them.