Goat farming can involve many swashbuckling adventures and undercover spy missions. The excitement goat farming provides can keep the pulse racing for days. Basically, a goat farmer is never bored.
Take the other day, I keep two buck brothers together until breeding season. After breeding season they are put back together again. They know each other, are comfortable with each other, and generally get along well. They also both have horns and are evened up in that aspect, as I keep the disbudded bucks together, so no one gets an unfair advantage over another.
Though these horned brothers get along well together, every now and then something snaps and they have a fierce battle. I donít know what causes these disagreements. I sure canít see what sets them off, but they will calmly be standing there, not particularly doing anything different, and suddenly they will roll their eyes at each other and WHAM! A major head butt happens, followed by several more head butts, and then itís over. Maybe itís something that they need to get out of their system. A remembered insult? Someone ate more hay then the other? One said something to the otherís girlfriend standing in the other pasture? Who knows?
When they get into these contests, itís like fencing. No, not the kind involving woven wire. Itís the kind that involves swords or sabres, or epees, or foils, or whatever they call those long sharp pointy things. The horns on a goat can be sharp as knives, particularly when they get thrown in your direction with great power and speed.
So, I always keep this in mind when I go in to feed these particular horned buck boys. That day as I walked into their run-in shed to divvy out the grain in the different feeders so no one could take over all of it, and as I got to the last feeder, I saw it. The Look. The boys had been eating peacefully several feet from each other and they glanced at each other.
With quickness almost too fast for the eye to keep up with, they went for each other. No one shouted ďEn-garde!Ē as a warning and though in fencing competitions three people are needed, the two fencers and the referee, let me tell you I was the extremely reluctant referee! And what about the rest of the protocol of the fencing stance, the quiet moment before the storm? These boys went at it like two angry thunderheads, in a small building, with an innocent bystander in the corner.
In the fencing competitions, the judging is done in French. A lot of good that would have done me shouting French at the buck boys. I only know how to count up to ten in French and somehow I donít think that would have worked.
The best I could come up with was ďBoys! Boys!Ē Because when they realized they didnít have room to back off to square off again for another charge, they started pushing and slashing, countering each slash so none landed lethally on them. But, it was another thing for me. One of the buck boys had horns that went back and then curved outward and when he swung his head, I was in the path of those curved ends of the horns. If it had been a true fencing competition, that fellow would have scored a lot of points off of me.
But, I was doing my best. Hollering, whooping, ducking, dodging, penned in a corner. I even joined in the fight a few times, slapping which ever big buck was the closest to getting me and hollering at the top of my lungs, ďBoys! Boys!Ē And, they never even noticed me and my slaps, they were so intent on each other. And, as quickly as that storm blew up, it blew away with one of the bucks charging out of the shed and the other one standing there taking a breather. It was one huge swashbuckling fight all right and all three of us was tired. I only wished Iíd come to the fight with something besides my hands to slap with. I left there with a few nicks and bruises and a better idea on how to feed the boys next time, never side by side even if there was a large space between them.
But, goat farmers are made of firm stuff and that night I was ready for our undercover spy mission. Lee and I waited until it got dark and the momma goats with their month old kids bedded down. Something we have always done for years is wean the kids at two months of age. It just worked for us and fit into our schedule, but we liked to give the kids their first CD/T shot and first worming when they hit one month of age, and the booster and another worming 22-28 days later.
Over the years the kids havenít got any slower, but Lee and I have. So now we wait until they bed down, get our flashlights, coolers of CD/T, a dewormer, and head out to the run-in sheds. One corner of a shed we set up a light and put our supplies of stuff out where the goats canít reach them and with a list of the kids due their shots, we went on the prowl. I keep meaning to get some of that camouflage paint to put stripes down our faces so we blend into the dark better, but I keep forgetting. And, Lee absolutely refuses to let me use permanent Magic Marker on us. Something about going to work the next day.
But, we do pretty good in the dark anyway. The kids are all cozy and the mommas are use to Lee and I acting oddly and donít budge, so we snatch a kid up easily, carry him back to the light, give him his shot and worming and brag on him and pet him or her afterwards and carry them back to their momma to keep things as settled and quiet as possible. Every now then an alarm is sounded by someone and the kids scatter, but even then, they are easy to pick off in the dark. Or, you just quietly wait until they settle down again.
Thus ended the day of a goat farmer, with swashbuckling adventures and undercover spy missions. Canít wait to see what the next day will bring.