The other day we had a really nice couple drop by and bring two of their grandchildren. Because we tend to sell mainly off the farm this way, we do get a lot of families with different ages of children that come to visit and look over the sale goats. That’s when we all, parents and me and Lee and the goats, pitch in to keep an eye on the children so no one mistakenly crawls into the buck pen to hug the huge bucks. Or, the biggie to watch out for, the children innocently sticking a finger in the bottle babies mouths. Children don’t know and parents forget that the back teeth, even on bottle kids, are capable of cracking corn. That’s a really big ouch on children and adult fingers.
This particular set of grandparents had brought a two year old boy and a five year old girl. Just the best mannered children in the world and they were also use to goats and were not afraid. I had kept a small herd of about forty young does in the barnyard area, ranging in age from four to eight months old, for them to look through.
The goat kids were totally fascinated by the two children. They had never seen people so short! One group of kids was carefully going over the five year old girl, inspecting her hair, her clothes, her shoes. They just couldn’t believe this was a human and they couldn‘t keep their noses off her. They then seemed to discuss things among themselves and then would go over her again. You could almost hear them saying, “Are you really a human? Why aren’t you as big as Connie? Haven’t they been feeding you right? I bet they haven’t been worming you! And, a good Albon treatment will set you right in no time.”
Then others in the group seemed to say, “I bet it’s the feed. They aren’t giving her enough. Look at Connie and how big and slick and shiny she is. Someone is feeding Connie good. This tiny human just needs a good worming and plenty of feed and she’ll be as big as Connie, I bet. This little human needs to be taken care of so she‘ll grow. How will she be able to carry a grain bucket to feed her goats if she doesn‘t grow?!”
The two year old boy just totally flabbergasted one group of kids. He was even shorter than the girl and he was very busy marching around, inspecting the barnyard to make sure it was up to his farming standards. Behind him followed his fan club. These kids stayed a couple of feet back from him, noses outstretched like dogs on a scent, doing their best to inspect him from a distance. After all, they weren’t quite sure what he was yet.
After a few minutes the kids were starting to get closer and closer, just getting ready to touch him all over. There was about fifteen in this group closing in on him, when suddenly he turned around, took a strong stance with one little foot in front of the other, stood straight and tall (for a two year old), and very authoritatively pointed at the group of kids closing in on him, and said loudly and sternly, “Shaga gooble shaga blip.” Or, some sort of two year old language, but we all fully understood what he meant, including the goat kids.
He was very plainly saying, “Get Back, I say! Get Back!” Evidently he understood the possibility of a stampede if the kids got spooked, and he was having none of it. Not up his back, he wasn’t.
Another set of grandparents came with a year and a half old little girl that was use to goats. She was just totally unafraid and kept begging her PaPa to put her in the pen with the bottle babies. Before I could say a “Beware”, he set the little girl in the pen. The bottle babies came over, entranced to see such a small human, sniffing her all over. She promptly sat down in the middle of 7 bottle babies and they rubbed noses all over her and then started tugging on her clothing, searching for a hidden bottle.
I suggested that PaPa had better get her out before they accidentally nipped her in their eager friendliness. I didn’t want her to grow up seeking professional help from a reoccurring nightmare of goats eating her. She was looking very happy but a slight worried look appeared every now and then when a bottle kid tugged too hard on her shirt.
PaPa did take her out of the bottle baby pen, though she protested vigorously and kept trying to climb back in with the bottle kids. She was a tough little kid. I don’t think she was old enough yet to take a stance and say, “Shaga gooble shaga blip”, meaning “Back, I say!” in adult language.
On one family visit a young boy was standing quietly among the sale kids while his parents looked through the goats. A weaned bottle kid came over to him, reared up and put her front feet on his chest and looked sweetly into his eyes. Instead of totally freaking out with fear or not liking his clothes getting dirty, he patted her sides and said in the kindest voice, “Yeah, I love you, too.”
I thought, this boy is going to be a great goat farmer. Sometimes a goat farmer does have to stand and say, “Get back!” but, a lot of times you also have to say, “Yeah, I love you, too,” to make goat farming worthwhile.