Remember that old song for Almond bars? It goes, ďsometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you donít.Ē You can almost hear our goats humming that song. Well, fall is here and the goats love it. They always feel like a nut at this time. They have turned into a large herd of red headed white bodied squirrels on the hunt for nuts throughout the woods. When itís time to go browse, they ignore the pastures and head for the woods.
As soon as they hit the woods, heads go down, tails curl up tight, and they go to rooting through the grass and leaves, hunting for those delectable, highly delicious, nuts. They have a regular smorgasbord of nuts to chose from.
They have acorns, the hickory nuts from the Shag Bark hickories, the Mockernut hickories, Pignut hickory, Bitternut hickory, and donít forget the Chinese chestnuts and the Beech nuts from the beech trees. Oh, wondrous loads of nuts and the goats are ecstatic.
The older does remember their favorite trees every year and lead any new comers in the herd to them when the nuts start falling. Even the livestock guard dogs will join in on some of the nuts, crunching and swallowing, moving with the herd. The one nut that they all leave totally alone is the Walnut. They canít seem to get up their nerve on that one and I canít blame them. Walnuts are too bitter even for me. So, at least the squirrels have something to store for winter, because itís stiff competition to find any of the other nuts once the herd has been under a tree.
In the fall nuts are always on the goatsí minds. One late October we had several does in the barn kidding. I was sitting with one girl who was in labor, and every now and then she would have to stop and chew a cud and think about things. She was an older doe and knew what was going on and believed in taking kidding very calmly and didnít get perturbed over things.
I was sitting there to see how close we were getting to kidding, when I heard sharp hard grinding in her mouth. She had been quietly chewing her cud and now she was rolling something hard around in her mouth. After a minute or two, she puckered up and spit out the whitest hickory Iíd ever seen, still intact. Evidently her stomach acids were able to bleach it white than white but was unable to break this one down enough to chew up thoroughly. Thoughtfully, she ignored the spit out nut and went back to chewing her cud.
Acorns are probably their most favorite of all the nuts, but they arenít about to turn any nut down, except that walnut. Iíve seen nuts drop and goats chase after them down a hill. Itís the funniest sight, but they always get their nut. Sometimes they even gallop to their favorite tree, trying to beat the other goats, to closely check the ground underneath. No, they arenít skinny and starving and in dire need of food. Itís about like us galloping towards chocolate or ice cream or pizza.
Their love of nuts has caused the goats to even change their feeding schedule. Whereas before they would lounge around most the day and wait until very late afternoon to go graze until dark and then come back home, now they go out in the morning, again at noon, again at afternoon, and then their usual time in the evening to go out and check out the nut harvest.
I guess their reasoning is, you just never know when a nut might fall. The livestock guard dogs are totally flabbergasted by the change in routine. As good as livestock guards as they are, Iím noticing that they now wait until the last minute to catch up with the herd. Thereís a couple of big trees on the hill that can easily be seen from the barn and only takes minutes to run to, so they lounge around, casting a lazy eye to where the goats are going. If itís to those very close trees, they wait for the goats to check around those trees and then the goats come back. But, if the goats continue on to the trees to the back of the farm, you see dogs making a mad dash to catch up with their goats. These nuts are just wearing them out. And, back and forth all day they march with the goats to check for nuts.
This time of year Iíve got to remember to warn visitors to not dress in the colors of nuts. As much as these goats love nuts, Iíd hate to see a visitor stampeded. Bright colors are best, something thatís not nutty looking. Or, if you absolutely have to dress like a nut, make it a walnut. You should be safe then.
ďSometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you donít.Ē Catchy tune for nutty goats, isnít it?