Tag Archives: goats

Playing With Words Leads To Book

English has thousands of words from many languages. Other languages can have plays on words, but they can’t rival English for playing with words.

Standing in the cold watching the does eat during milking as most of them are dry is boring. Playing with words occupies the mind and lets the goats get away with little tricks which they don’t mind.

goat wether
Every goat person knows about bucks, does and kids. They should know about wethers too. I’ve used wethers for harness and meat. They make good goat pets. They don’t look or act like a buck, yet are more masculine than a doe.

Dandy wether debates whether or not a wether should go out in rainy weather.

Homonyms are fun. English has lots of them.

Alpines align alertly.

playing with words begins with A for Alpine
A has so many words to use for alliteration on the topic of Alpines. Gem shows many Alpine characteristics to help with the illustration.

Alliteration and tongue twisters are old favorites. The challenge was to come up with one for each letter of the alphabet.

Some were easy. C is for caprine. D is for doe. G is for goat. T is for Toggenberg.

Others were real challenges. Yet something worked for all the letters except one. No, it’s not Z or Q or J. I am missing R.

Now goats are ruminants and do have rumens, but these don’t seem to lend themselves to anything light-hearted using alliteration or homonyms or even tongue twisters. Perhaps there is some other topic? I need some ideas.

Oberhasli does are for O with ornery and obedient
O is for Oberhasli with some obedient manners masking some ornery intentions.

Playing with words gave me 26 pages doubled when illustrations are added. This seemed awfully short so I added some flash fiction about a kid.

The illustrations are another challenge. I’m working on the sketches. It’s tempting to make them rich, elaborate affairs. I’m not that good.

Tongue twisters and alliterative passages are simple word plays. The illustrations should match. They will be ink brush stroke done mostly in black ink but some color. After all, goats are in color.

goat kids get into all kinds of mischief giving fodder for playing with words
Goat kids figure in many of the letters including I, K and Z. And two kids are the subject of a series of ten flash fiction pieces. This may be because kids are so cute, curious and ornery.

I still think of this little book as The Goat Alphabet Book, but it doesn’t really fit anymore. Buried somewhere in this little book is a title. I haven’t found it yet.

And to think that this all started because English has so many words with so many beautiful sounds and playing with words can be such fun.

Feeding Creek Fish

Creek fish survive somehow in the creek. The water sinks into the copious amounts of gravel during dry times leaving isolated pools. Recent rains have started the creek flowing again.

Last spring’s floods dug out one bank around one bridge pillar. It will take many very large rocks to fill the hole and encourage a flooded creek to go under the bridge instead of around it.

In the meantime a pool surrounds the pillar. Creek fist are crowded into this pool. Some of the bleeding shiners are six inches long. All of the fish are hungry.

Minnows usually scavenge insects and insect larvae for food. Being cold blooded, they don’t need a lot of food. Lucky for them. Still, they do like to eat.

creek fish

Minnows abound in this creek pool that extends under the bridge. Most are bleeding shiners. They stay down in the water. Broad head minnows stay at the surface. All of the fish find ticks delicious.

This is where the goats come into the picture. They crisscross the pastures and hills devouring whatever seems good that particular day. As they walk by, ticks leap on. In August these are mostly seed ticks (newly hatched) and the first instar ticks (seed ticks after one feeding).

I check my goats for ticks every day. Looking for these small ticks is a waste of time until they have gorged themselves. That is in the mornings.

The goats gladly follow me out the pasture gate and onto the makeshift bridge. I stop. they mill around.

goats waiting to feed creek fish

The pastures are overgrown. Downed trees and left over branches made bush hogging a task for next year. The smaller herd seems to have trouble deciding on where to go. There is no one lead goat, one of those under rated, but very important herd members. This is great for the fish. The goats stand around while I pull ticks. The goats like the attention and vie for more.

In spite of being checked for ticks during milking, the goats still have ticks on them. I pull these off and drop them into the pool. The creek fish go crazy as each tries to get as many of these delectable morsels as possible.

The goats are not impressed. They get impatient and begin shoving. Each goat’s ears and nose have been gone over. So the goats now follow me down the overgrown tractor road toward the south pasture. Soon they pass me by.

I turn back collecting a few fallen sycamore leaves to feed the bucks when I let them out for the day. The creek fish are still hungry, but will wait until the next morning for more ticks.

Enduring Ozark Summer Heat

Missouri Ozark weather is usually changeable. Lately the changes have been slow in coming. Summer heat has been sitting here for a couple of weeks.

Temperature is only part of the story in the Ozarks. The other part is the humidity.

Our bodies sweat. It evaporates. Our bodies cool down. Humidity slows or stops the evaporation so we stay hot and feel hotter than the temperature warrants. Lately humidity levels have rivaled the temperature.

cat sleeps through summer heat

My cat Cloudy sprawls out on the grass next to the sidewalk occupied by my cat Burton. both await my appearance to serve dinner. They look so comfortable. They make it tempting to join them.

Cats don’t sweat. When summer heat settles in, they find a shady spot and sprawl out. Favorite haunts are often in front of doorways. Open the door. Find splat cat lying a step outside.

Chickens move into the shade. My flock has lost its favorite haunts as a pair of gray foxes has moved into the area. The chickens now hang out around the goat barn.

summer heat makes chickens pant

Chickens try to slick down their feathers. Then they start panting. These three are in a shady corner of their yard. A family of gray foxes has moved to the area so the chickens stay on full alert through the heat.

Horseflies and deerflies influence the goats. These insects have vicious bites. The goats come in with big, raised welts oozing moisture. The flies like sun and moist areas.

The goats go up on the hills and tuck themselves into deep shade under the oaks. Unfortunately the best browse is down in lower areas.

My herd is smaller now, only seventeen goats. They pack themselves into as small an area as possible. Each goat hopes the flies visit the neighboring goat or can be rubbed off onto the next goat.

Nubian goats in summer heat

Goats pant when they get hot. The herd loafs in shady areas most of the afternoon. My herd goes up over the hills and down the ravine during the day, between layovers in deeper shade. Once the air starts cooling, the herd comes out into the pasture to graze.

Toward midsummer the horseflies move up close to the goat barn. The goats don’t appreciate this. The chickens do.

Savvy chickens stalk the goats watching for flies to land. Snack time.

Summer heat is making work difficult. It’s too hot for me to work outside, even in the shade by noon. My barn is almost cleaned out. I keep trying to take out a few loads of manure each day.

Noon means coming in to change shirts as the morning shirt is sopping wet. There is a rumor this summer heat will break for a few days by the end of the week. All of us need the break.

Enjoying Warm Spring Days

I love warm spring days. They are made for being outside.

That means cleaning out the goat barn. The warm sun is enjoyed on trips to the manure pile.

The next item on the list is clearing more garden paths. The dead nettle and chickweed are dying and seeding. It’s time to pull these and mulch the pathways to keep the weeds from taking over this summer.

Nubian doe High Reaches Topaz Willa

High Reaches Topaz Willa is getting old. She went to sleep. When she woke, she was alone. She came to the barn to find someone and found me.

This day I am rescued from the garden by a goat. It seems Willa has gotten separated from the herd. She came to the barn lot seeking help finding the herd.

The first warm spring days are special. Only dogged determination and the terrible mess keep me working in the goat barn.

A goat in trouble takes precedent. I empty the load of manure and go to the house to change into hiking boots. Grabbing my camera and walking stick, I am ready to take Willa back out to pasture.

goats reappear

I am amazed by how easily a herd of goats can disappear and reappear. Willa went to sleep and the herd disappeared. We passed this spot going to the ravine and no one was here. Now the herd stands here wondering what we are up to.

The herd had disappeared up a hill that morning. Two ways down are favored by around early afternoon. Lately the herd was taking the long route down into the ravine.

Willa and I go to the ravine. No herd. Willa is happy to have company and starts grazing.

Camera in hand I go down to visit several tagged trees. Last summer I identified these trees, tagged them and have taken pictures of their bark, buds and winter looks. Now these are ready to bloom.

goats like warm spring days

My Nubian goats are enjoying the spring weather. They race around gorging on seeding grasses and budding brush, then lie down in the shade to chew their cuds.

Two are in bloom and I take pictures. This is when my walking stick comes in handy. It has a hook on the end for pulling down branches as I have yet to learn to levitate and don’t climb trees.

Willa comes looking for me. We resume our search heading down the hill pasture toward the creek.

The herd has materialized by the creek. Willa is reunited with them and her kid.

I check out another tree. The shingle oak is in bloom.

greening hills on warm spring days

Overnight the trees have greened. The grass is lush. The breeze is warm and light. The clouds sail overhead billowing into shapes and morphing into new ones. Quiet surrounds you, fills you, heals you. This is my Ozarks in spring.

Turning to look back at the hills, a warm breeze ruffles my hair. The smell of dogwoods adds a little perfume. The trees are leafing out turning the hills light green. The goats are relaxing in the shade.

I turn back toward the garden. I walk past it and off onto another hill, up another ravine in search of lady slippers.

Warm spring days are too precious to spend working all day.

Watch for the new book “My Ozark Home” due out later this year. For now, check out Exploring the Ozark Hills.

New Kids Coming

This year’s new kids are due any day. Which day is never certain anymore as Augustus is a master of escape. Maybe I should change his name to Houdini.

Usually the arrival of new kids is anticipated enthusiastically. This year is different. I know I can keep none of the kids, no matter how cute or endearing or special.

Someone else will have those special kids. I get to see them for three months, then say good-bye.

Nubian High Reaches Matilda expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Matilda’s kids have settled. Still she is playing the ‘any day’ game making everyone wait to see her kids.

My herd is as big as I can care for now. It’s easier to sell the kids I’ve known for only a short while than does I’ve known for years. The kids will all leave.

Since only Augustus was in on when several of my does were bred, I am left watching and waiting. The does know this and do their best to look like today’s the day for weeks.

Matilda and Agate look like they will be first. Matilda’s kids have settled. She has sunk around her tail bone. Her udder is taking its time filling up.

Agate has discharge from time to time. She has a nice udder.

Nubian High Reaches Violet expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Violet is starting to waddle, but is not concerned. Her kids will arrive sometime in March.

Then there is Violet. Her udder is starting to fill out. Her kids haven’t settled yet. Her history is getting both done overnight.

In the meantime, I’ve put the barn in order. There is a large area for the new mothers and their new kids.

Pens are better, but are more difficult to set up. Two of my panels are in use and unavailable. A third could be used, if I have to. That leaves me two.

Agate expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Agate is getting ready to kid.

The two can become one pen or the front of a kidding area. The area was picked.

March is a waiting game now. I’m watching Matilda and Agate. However, Violet, Pixie, Lydia and Rose are getting ready too.

New kids are fun. Will they be does or bucks? Will they have spots? Will there be triplets? All of us are waiting to find out.

Helpful Curious Kids

Anyone familiar with goats knows both adults and kids are playful and curious. They get into everything they possibly can.

Curious kids are especially prone to leaving havoc behind them. Their small size makes turning things over to check out the inside mandatory.

This winter I have three kids and a half grown doe. The four form a formidable gang.

two curious kids

Two of my curious kids stand plotting their next move. One stunt they haven’t managed yet is to turn over a bucket of oats only because the bucket is out of reach.

The youngest was a very late kid, born November 1. She will be up for sale next month.

The next twins are from late last spring. These two are saboteurs. When I first went to advertise these spotted beauties for sale, one promptly broke a front leg.

The leg healed nicely. So I tried again to advertise the pair. They promptly came down with a virus and happily spread it to the entire herd.

The herd is now well. The kids are fine. I should again advertise these kids for sale, but am hesitant. What disaster will they cook up next?

Agate is my half grown herd addition. She is very spoiled. At almost a year old, she still gets a small bottle of milk morning and evening.

curious kids gang member

High Reaches Spring’s Agate is bigger now and thinks she is one of the big goats. Still, she loves to play and get into things with the other younger kids.

Before the present cold spell, I put the goats out during the day for a few hours. This lets the boys have the run of the barn lot and small pasture. It lets me clean out the barn, make repairs, do whatever is needed.

The herd is not impressed. The pastures have little to offer them. Drought has robbed them of the usual thick grasses. Winter has robbed them of browse.

I wanted to go out walking. The herd wanted someone to follow. I went down to the small gate into the pasture to find curious kids playing with something.

What was it these curious kids were playing with? It didn’t look like a fallen tree branch. They ignore the rocks scattered from when the new electric pole was put in.

The kids made me curious. I went out to take a look.

This was the last week of December. Deer don’t shed antlers until January. Except this year they are early. Still, I never find sheds.

sheds curious kids found

Antlers are very impressive when you hold them. They are heavy. The tines are sharp. The tines feel smooth. The base area is rough.

Thanks to those curious kids and a very large buck deer I’ve never seen, I now have a lovely matched set of ten point antlers.

My New Polled Kid

Late kids, especially single kids, are at a disadvantage. They lack the large play group earlier kids have. The kid equipment such as disbudding iron and tattooer are cleaned and put away. This is a polled kid so some of the equipment can stay locked away.

When I first started raising Nubians, polled goats were not difficult to find. Horns are a nuisance at best and a disaster waiting to happen at worst. Disbudding, banding and dehorning are not enjoyable at all. Polled was the way to go.

There wasn’t much of a meat goat market back then. So the uptick in hermaphrodites was a problem. It seemed tied to polled. Polled fell out of favor.

polled kid standing still

Standing quietly beside another doe kid, my new polled kid looks so tame. In truth, I was lucky to get this picture as she is rarely still for more than a few seconds.

I still have polled does in my herd. High Reaches Butter’s Juliette is one of them. This polled kid is her daughter. I have kept another daughter, Lydia, also polled.

One problem goat owners have with a polled kid is knowing whether or not it is polled. The polled trait is dominant so three out of four kids from a polled parent will statistically be polled. Reality can be very different.

I look at the hair on the head. Horn buds have a swirl over the top of them. Polled horn bosses have a ridge over them.

Horn buds are pointed. Horn bosses are rounded.

Skin is supposed to be fixed over horn buds and moves over polled horn bosses. I have trouble with this as a kid’s skin is so loose.

Juliette’s daughter is now a month old. She has no horns. I was right. She is a polled kid. She is also a livewire.

polled kid playing

The edge of the creek is a great place to jump up and down according to this goat kid. She loves to jump up onto things. And she is good at jumping, getting up a stack of four bales of hay! Luckily she knows how to get down again.

The milking room is a great playground. This kid leaps on the milk stands under the does. She leaps onto the hay at the end of the section. She pesters the cats.

To everyone’s relief, the kid has discovered oats. She now spends at least part of the time eating. Unfortunately she still insists on eating out of her own dish and everyone else’s dishes, preferably with hooves in the dish, as well.

Being a live wire and a late kid has another advantage. She has been racing out with the herd from nine days old. She has never been left behind or needed finding.

At three months old, this polled kid must be sold. I hope she goes home with someone who values her lively ways and personality.

Goat kids can be lots of fun or give lots of grief. Capri does some of both in Capri Capers.

Spotted Nubian Kids

This has been the year of the spotted Nubian kids here at High Reaches. These kids are due to the escape artist Augustus.

Silk surprised me with that spotted buck. She did have one spot in the middle of her back. She did have spots in her background. But the spots had gradually disappeared over the generations.

Nubian buck kid High Reaches Silk's Augustus

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk’s Augustus was such a cute little kid. Those big white ears. Those little white spots. At 200 pounds, he has grown into those ears. The spots are still there. His neck is getting thick as he matures.

Then came Augustus. He was a frosted gray with white spots from the time he was born.

This year’s spotted Nubian kids are different. The background black or frosted gray is usual enough. It’s the spots.

These kids don’t have white spots when they are born. They have brown spots. From what I’ve read, these are called liver spots.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

Born July 4th, this frosted gray doeling does have spots. They are still brown but showing white hairs so they will turn white in another month or so.

These brown spots are a problem. They persist for two or three months as brown spots. Many goats are registered by that age and described as having brown spots.

Except, when the kids are two to three months of age, these brown spots can turn white. The description on the papers is now incorrect.

So, why not list them as white spots on the application? Not all brown spots turn white and you won’t know until the kid is four or five months old.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

This twin doeling is black with spots. They are brown but definitely changing to white. The twins were born July 4 to High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie.

This year all my brown spotted Nubian kids have become white spotted kids. The youngest ones are just now making this change.

It is fun to see the spots. Spotted goats are pretty and popular.

one of the spotted Nubian kids

Six months old, independent, grain lover and covered with spots, big on the right and small on the left, this doeling is out of High Reaches Spring.

At one time the rage was for black Nubians. Some people bred their goats for color only. Soon their goats were black but not dairy goats, only pets, as they no longer produced a decent amount of milk.

Will breeding for spots do the same? Or have people learned?

Dairy goats are supposed to produce milk. Having pretty colors may be nice, but the colors don’t put milk in the bucket.

I still have four doe kids to sell. Three have spots. One is a plain brown. The spotted Nubian kids will gather interest immediately. The brown one won’t.

not a spotted Nubian kid

This doeling is so like her mother, High Reaches Trina. She is calm, friendly, but has no spots.

Yet the brown one is from a good milking background. She is friendly like her mother, Trina, who always comes over to stand by me to be petted and fussed over.

I am keeping Agate – yes, Agate, like in Capri Capers, black with white spots. I can only keep one kid.

Perhaps someone can see beyond the spots. Even plain brown can be a lovely color for a goat.

Find out more about Capri Capers and read some pages from the novel here.

Impatient Bucks Frustrated

My does are cycling. Every three weeks the does stand one by one gazing longingly at the bucks and wagging their tail. Being Nubians this is normally accompanied by loud cries all day.

My impatient bucks hang out over their pen wall blathering at any doe standing close. They don’t care if the doe is looking at them or not, she’s a doe and they are so irresistible.

The does go out to pasture. They march off in one direction or another and disappear for the day.

impatient bucks running

As soon as their gate is opened, my impatient bucks race off hoping the pasture gate has been left open, then check for scents of a doe in heat. Maybe they will come in for breakfast.

Impatient bucks bolt out of their gate racing off to check out any scents left behind. Augustus begins his daily sorrowful laments.

Eventually the bucks get back to the barn to eat what’s left of breakfast. Chickens love oats. I’m not too concerned as the bucks never seem to finish breakfast lately.

All day impatient bucks patrol the fences. They stand on the gym gazing out at the pastures.

impatient bucks waiting

Much of the day impatient buck goats stand or pace looking out over the pastures looking for the does.

All day the does ignore the bucks and their calls. Only one in heat answers them setting off a frenzy in the barn lot.

ignoring impatient bucks

The does go out to pasture and spend the day eating. The calls of impatient bucks are ignored. Eating is much more important.

In between watching for and calling for the does, the impatient bucks jockey for supremacy. Augustus and Gaius are the same size now so competition is fierce. So far the only casualty is the barn wall now six inches out of place.

Gaius is getting older. He is determined to stay boss buck. For now and maybe next year the match will be weighted on his side.

Once Augustus takes over, maybe before, I will need to split their pen to separate the two all night. The barn wall isn’t a big problem as the barn is over a hundred years old, badly built and falling apart. The big problem is the damage the two bucks can do to each other.

impatient bucks checking

When the herd at last reappears, the impatient bucks are there at the fence to check them out.

Last year Augustus leapt the fences. He can still jump but the extra barbed wire seems to keep him at bay. He’s a lot bigger and heavier so he won’t make it over the wire cleanly anymore and he knows it.

That means I get to set my own breeding season this year. That means October. For now the impatient bucks will have to wait.

Do you enjoy reading about goats? Check out Dora’s Story.

Daily Herd Decision

Several years ago my goat herd had a lead goat. She was an Alpine. She was not head goat. that was a different Alpine. When the pasture gate was opened, the herd decision of where to go was solely hers.

The herd went to the gate and stood there, waiting. Loyal wandered out, threading her way through the herd and out the gate. Some mornings she led them north, some south.

herd decision to go out

The herd is usually eager to go out in the morning. The goats race out the barn door and wait for me to lead them to the pasture gate. Enough follow me to convince the entire herd to show up at the gate.

Loyal grew old and died. Dude took over for the next few years, but he was already elderly. He was the last of the Alpines.

Now the goat herd is only Nubians. They have relied on the Alpines for years for leadership. Even a few years after losing Dude, they haven’t found a herd leader. Instead they have a democratic approach.

herd decision for pasture

The herd hesitates at the pasture gate. Some goats graze. Most stand around listening for the horseflies to attack. The big problem is lack of a lead goat to show the herd the way.

Since I open the pasture gate, I am their first leader of the day. The herd straggles along to the gate.

I walk through the gate. The herd scatters as they walk through the gate. Some goats don’t make it out of the gate right away as the giant ragweed is right there waiting for browsing.

herd decision at the bridge

I am only lead goat stand in. I am respected only as long as I go the way the herd wants to go. Of course, if I pull down a tree branch or two, the herd will be glad to join me.

Finally the entire herd is outside the gate milling around. At this point I can go back in and close the gate leaving the goats to stand around. Or I can walk out to pasture.

If I close the gate, the goats look at each other. Some wander off to browse. The top goats are stuck with the herd decision: Where do we go today?

herd decision to cross the creek

There are no railings. There are spaces between the planks. The creek flows underneath the planks, even within a foot or so during high water times. The herd still crosses the bridge to avoid getting their hooves wet.

If I lead the way, the herd decision is put off, sort of. The main path leads toward the bridge across the creek. At this point the herd can go north along the creek or cross the creek to go south.

Most mornings when I lead, I walk a short way north. The herd gets to the bridge and stops. I turn to see them looking at me like I’m lost or something.

herd decision made

There is now a fallen tree for the kids to play on, lots of plants to browse and three possibilities for going out. One or another goat gets hungry and has a taste for some plant out one of the directions and takes off. everyone seems to give off a sigh of relief and follows. The decision is made for today.

The herd decision is already made to cross the creek. I’m not in on the decision. They pity me, turn and cross the bridge only to stop on the other side.

Again some wander off to browse. The head goats have another herd decision to make. They can go left up the hill and around. They can go straight and up the hill pasture. They can go right along the creek and to the ravine.

Finally one goat gets antsy. She takes off one way or another. The herd follows.

Find out more about goats while having fun solving pencil puzzles in Goat Games.

Ozark Homestead Early Morning

On a homestead days are filled with activities. During the summer the days are hot and dry. That makes early morning times precious.

Summer days are in the nineties here. That doesn’t sound so hot unless you add in the humidity at seventy percent. Early in the morning the air is fresh and cool.

Milking time will come soon. For now the goats are out enjoying the cool temperatures too. They are out standing around on the goat gym.

goats in early morning

The goats like to sleep inside the barn. This is convenient to the milking room door and breakfast. It is good insurance in case of evening thundershowers. But early morning lures some of them outside.

Later the goats will go out to pasture spending most of their time tucked into the shade. Nubians do like basking in the sun, but the horseflies like sun too. These come in three sizes around here plus deer flies, all packing painful bites.

Sunrises are rarely spectacular here. Some mornings the world turns yellow. Other mornings a pink glow highlights the trees over an eastern hill.

The Althea or Rose of Sharon bush is in bloom at one corner of the porch. It is a rugged, determined thing. We ruthlessly chop it down to stubs and it comes back up to tower over the roof.

Early morning is the time for visitors to these pink flowers. Wasps and bumblebees visit each flower.

The air fills with the whirring hum of wings. Hummingbirds like the flowers too. One by one the birds come by to check each flower for a bit of nectar.

Cloudy cat in early morning

My Cloudy cat stays at the barn most of the time by choice. He expects his breakfast as soon as I open the barn door in the morning. He relaxes on the road waiting for me to show up then leads me to that door.

Cloudy Cat is out too. He is waiting for breakfast which means me to appear in the barn. As he waits, he curls up on the roads watching for anything interesting. There will be traffic on the road later but it is rare at dawn.

Birds are waking up and singing from the hills around the house. With the trees leafed out they are hidden until they decide to fly from one perch to another. Some fly across the sky and I wonder where they are going in such a hurry.

The cool air, the early morning sounds and the quiet make standing on the porch for hours tempting. But early morning is fleeting. The sun is topping the eastern hill to tell the world the day is beginning and it’s time to get started with the chores and activities that fill its hours.

Bottle Baby Challenges

Lots of goat owners raise all their kids as bottle babies. I did for a time but now a bottle baby is rare, only one or two a year.

My does have one or more sets of triplets every year. Since goat udders have only two sides, one kid is out of luck. I end up with a bottle baby.

Goat kids are greedy. Each one can easily consume a half gallon of milk or more a day. Buck kids are greedier than doe kids.

spotted Nubian buck kid

This spotted buck kid is the biggest of Eliza’s triplets and drinks most of her milk. He has already learned how to take a terrible picture.

Goat kids are bullies. The biggest or most aggressive kid gets the most milk.

This system works well in the wild. Sharing is not an option and can be a form of suicide. Those kids that eat the most and are most aggressive have the best chance of survival.

In the domestic world such tactics are not needed but the kids don’t know that. And each set of triplets has a potential bottle baby in it.

My present set of triplets has one larger buck kid. He is a lovely spotted frosted black. He is his mother’s favorite.

Nubian doe kid bottle baby

This little Nubian doe tried really hard to get her share of Eliza’s milk. Her two bigger brothers refused to share. Bottles are her milk source now.

The other two kids did share half the milk. Then the black buck kid pushed the frosted gray doe kid out. She became a bottle fan overnight.

Then the black buck started getting shoved out by the spotted kid. Besides, being greedy, he wanted his share of what his sister was getting.

Bottling a kid is normally not too difficult a challenge. Warm the milk up. Pour it in the bottle. Put on the nipple. Go see the kid.

A different challenge faces the goat owner. Bottle baby kids attach themselves to the bottle provider instead of the herd.

So far I’ve been lucky with these two kids. They still follow their mother and want to stay with the kid play group. Most mornings they race out the pasture gate and off with the herd.

Nubian buck bottle baby

Eliza’s black buck kid does get enough milk but doesn’t think so. He thinks bottles are a great snack source.

Then there are those mornings when the two kids stand between the herd on its way out and the gate and call me. I walk out with the herd until the kids are happily playing then double back to finish chores.

This doesn’t always work. On those rare days the two kids follow me out and back in. They can not be discouraged. They stay in the barn lot all day complaining bitterly about my not staying out in pasture all day for them to go out and play.

A final challenge is having enough milk to support a bottle baby. Since most of my milking does have kids, more and more of the milk disappears before the does come into the milk room.

Like the other challenges, this one will be tackled one day at a time. A bottle baby grows up fast. The other kids do too. Soon the challenge will be what to do with all the extra milk.

Check out the sample book pages for Goat Games, Dora’s Story and Capri Capers.

Chilled Kid Emergency

Having a chilled kid up north wasn’t a surprise. Temperatures near and below zero were commonplace and new kids can’t handle that. Nubian ears, even Alpine ears get frozen.

In the Ozarks temperatures are warmer. Still I ended up with a chilled kid. This is a goat emergency as the kid could soon be dead.

chilled kid now

The chilled kid now looks almost normal. He still has some problems standing because he was on his side too long. He is not as lively or bouncing like his sister. He improves every day.

A newborn kid is wet. The mother goat’s tongue cleans the kid up, gets much of the dampness off but doesn’t dry the kid.

Stick a hand in water then hang it outside at forty degrees. The hand gets cold, really cold. It doesn’t take long.

A newborn kid doesn’t have the reserves to keep itself warm. It must get dry. This little buckling didn’t get dry.

chilled kid and doe sister

The little buck has a sister who, although cold, did not get chilled. Unlike her brother, the little doe got dried off.

In the morning the little buck lay on his side unable to get up. He wasn’t hungry. He was crying.

A classic check is to put a finger in the kid’s mouth to see if it is warm. This buckling’s mouth was cool but not cold. He felt warm.

goat kids

High Reaches Topaz Willa had her twins, a buck and a doe, only twelve hours before picture time. They weren’t too sure what the sunshine was all about.

This was a chilled kid. Even though he felt warm his humped back, crying and reluctance to eat were signposts.

I bundled the kid up and took him to the house. Wood stoves are great for warming up a chilled kid. I tucked him into a box next to the stove.

After finishing chores, I checked on the little buck. He was sleeping. His fur was warm.

A couple of hours later I had a hungry little kid. He drank plenty of milk. He wasn’t crying. He was standing normally.

goat kid doe

High Reaches Butters Juliette had a single brown spotted doe. She was not impressed by being set up on the step for a picture.

He was still a chilled kid.

When a kid gets cold, the cold seeps all over inside. Even warming the kid up to acting well doesn’t insure all that cold is really gone.

It took a few more hours basking in the heat to finally get this kid up and going. He still has a little difficulty standing up but that too is disappearing. He is again out with his mother and nursing.

Triplet Kids Troubles

Cows have four teats but only one calf. Goats have two teats and usually have two kids. Triplet kids are one too many.

Eliza had triplets.

Goats have two horns or sides to their uterus. Usually one side is used for kids one year and the other side the next year.

Eliza used both horns. One had a single buck kid. The other had twins.

triplet kids

Finally the triplet kids were able to go outside. They were ready, bored with staying in the barn even if it was warmer and dryer. The littlest one, the doe, is in the middle. All are sporting goat coats.

The resulting triplet kids was a normal buck kid and two smaller kids, a buck and a doe.

January is a lousy time for kids in the Ozarks. Small wet kids are candidates for hypothermia.

These kids were greeted with lows in the twenties. This is not good in a hundred-year-old drafty barn.

Heat lamps are not an option in a tinderbox of a barn.

The smaller two kids moved into the house for the night. The cats were insulted and invaded.

New parents know what new kids mean to a night’s sleep. These two kids were awake and hungry every two hours all night. They would eat then play then go back to sleep.

It was a relief to put the kids back with Eliza in the morning. She was delighted to have all of her triplet kids back with her.

One of the kids was doing all right. The smallest one got cold. The temperature plunged as soon as night fell.

triplet kids with mother goat

Eliza has discovered goat kids have selective hearing. She calls. They don’t hear her. She wants to go someplace. They want to explore. Welcome to motherhood, Eliza.

A second night saw kids in the house. A second night was spent in two hour shifts.

The triplet kids went back out with Eliza in the morning. They stayed out with her and did fine. It’s amazing how much cold a dry, lively goat kid can handle.

That set of troubles was solved with two sleepless nights and two days of naps. Now the next round of troubles is starting.

A goat has two teats. Kids especially buck kids are greedy eaters. Eliza is running out of milk.

One advantage to the sleepless nights will come into play now. The small doe who is the one usually shoved aside does eat from a bottle.

That should solve the next round of troubles with the triplet kids. Supplementing one is a good option too as the triplets get to stay together.

Check out My Books for sample pages for Goat Games, a goat fact book with puzzles, and two goat novels: Dora’s Story and Capri Capers.

Ending the Year

Beginning and ending the year happens on an arbitrary date. The agreed upon date is fast approaching. For me this is a time to reflect on the year past, its hopes, its accomplishments, its disappointments, its gains and losses.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Precious Jewel lived a long life here. Old age caught up with her. Some of her daughters are still in the herd.

As a writer I am ending the year disappointed. Only Capri Capers came out this year. My plans called for the third in the Hazel Whitmore series tentatively called Mistaken Promises. A picture book called Waiting For Fairies was on that hoped for list too. Discouraging as they sometimes become, the botany project pages are finally taking shape from the hundreds of pictures I took this past growing season.

Clyde ending the year loss

Clyde arrived one day and adopted me. He was one of my wheelbarrow cats leaping in to ride whenever I had one out.

As a goatkeeper ending the year has its hellos and good-byes. I lost four old friends this year. Jewel and Silk were old and in poor health. Josephine and Bonnie got sick and I could not help them survive. But Rose is doing fine and growing fast.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Bubbles Silk was a big Nubian doe. She lived here a long time and left me with a junior herd sire, a daughter and granddaughter.

It’s so strange how a little goat seems to stay the same size for months. Suddenly the eyes look again and this has been an illusion. That little goat has gotten big even though it was not noticed.

Pretty Boy ending the year loss

My mother’s two cats came to live with me. Pretty Girl left me last year. Pretty Boy enjoyed being outside. He never stopped missing my mother.

Three cats left as well. My mother’s Pretty Boy is gone. Cat, Grey Cat and Clyde followed him. There are now six cats living here.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

Worms are a curse in the Ozarks. Poor High Reaches Josephine was fine one day and too anemic to save the next. She was an excellent milker and sorely missed.

My pantry has lots of potatoes and butternut squash in it. The freezer has enough chopped peppers to supply every meal for months. Tomato sauce is ready for spaghetti and pizza. The garden did well even though I never feel it has. The weeds seem to get the upper hand by the end of the season and leave me discouraged.

Grey Cat ending the year loss

I don’t know where Grey Cat came from. She arrived one day and decided to stay. She wanted only a place to live and food to eat. In all the years she lived here, she would never allow me to touch her. She let me civilize her kittens one of whom is still living with me.

However, fresh spinach beckons from the raised bed. The first Brussels sprouts are ready to pick in my temporary greenhouse. I have learned new things about them and hope to have better crops from them next year.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Bonnie came down with pneumonia as cold winter weather moved in. She was a favorite goat always glad to see me.

Did the year live up to the dreams and hopes I had? No. But the year was still a good one. I hope your year was a good one too.

Goats Love Eating Acorns

Acorns can kill a cow if it eats too many. Goats can gorge on them like deer can.

This has been a great year for fruits and that includes acorns. The ground in the woods is covered with them.

Turkeys eat lots of these little oak fruits but seem to prefer grass seed much of the time lately. The flocks have been working their ways around the pastures every day. They don’t seem to know turkey season is in full swing even though no one around here seems to care.

acorns on the forest floor

Walking in the Ozark woods is not silent lately. All around is the plop of acorns hitting the ground. Places are scraped clean where turkeys have been feasting. Other places I see a path several feet wide of scuffed leaves and know the goats were by inhaling every acorn they found.

Deer are eating their share up in the woods. The goats act like vacuum cleaners as they shuffle their way across the hills.

Acorns can make a goat sick. I’ve had several come in with upset stomachs. The biggest problem is when they stop chewing their cuds. This can be deadly.

Violet went out with the herd one day. The kids stayed in but not without protest.

That night Violet came in for grain but picked. Her sides stuck out more than usual.

The next morning Violet laid around. She was alert but definitely did not feel good.

Usually a goat lying down and not asleep will chew her cud. Violet was not chewing a cud. She was uncomfortable. Her ears were at an odd angle.

A bloated goat is a problem. I usually start with oil to help whatever is causing the problem to move on through.

Violet was slightly bloated but her big problem was not chewing a cud. This calls for something different.

I gave her a dose of Probios. Other times I’ve used yogurt or kefir. One time, in desperation I stole a cud from another goat.

Nubian doe High Reaches Violet and her kids

Today High Reaches Violet is out eating acorns again. Yesterday she laid around her kids wondering why she wasn’t out watching them play. Too many acorns leave an upset rumen and no cud behind. This can kill but a bacteria culture soon sets things right again.

Stealing a cud takes timing and caution. First you find a victim – goat – relaxing and chewing cud.

You watch until a new cud comes up and pounce. Prying the mouth open and extracting the cud can be dangerous to fingers.

The stolen cud is then forced into the sick goat’s mouth. And it must be forced as this thing stinks and is not at all palatable in the goat’s opinion.

In Violet’s case the powdered stuff worked fine over the course of the day. By the next day she was off to hunt acorns once again.

My Escape Artist Augustus

Every breeding season I list my does deciding who is retired, who is milking through and who is being bred and to whom. The last few years these careful plans have been sabotaged by an escape artist.

This year I would be prepared. I repaired the electric fence even putting in a much better grounding rod.

Augustus escaped. One winter milker crossed off the list.

This young buck didn’t think much of the electric wire. It was a great way to scratch an itchy head.

One problem with woven wire is how easy it is to collapse it. Augustus was stepping on the woven wire and sliding out over the electric wire and under the barbed wire.

escape artist Augustus

When my junior Nubian herd sire Augustus escapes, he is on holiday and down’t want anything to cut it short. Goats run much faster and longer than I do. The rope is easier to grab. It isn’t safe unless I am watching as Augustus can catch it up and end up strangled.

Another strand of barbed wire went up. The woven wire and both strands of barbed were wired together.

Augustus was disgusted. His favorite escape holes were no more. He escaped anyway. Another winter milker crossed off the list.

Gaius was not happy. He is senior herd sire. This young upstart was out enjoying the company of his does.

Gaius’ revenge came in showing which corner of the barn lot was the new escape route. The barn lot is fenced with cattle panels topped with barbed wire.

The cattle panels and barbed wire were carefully wired together. All joins were checked and redone.

Augustus escaped. At least no doe was in season. He was just enjoying being out in the pastures with lots of friendly company. Gaius was mad at him and aggressive due to breeding season.

Nubian buck

Goat Town USA Gaius has left that gawky age behind and is filling out into a mature Nubian buck with a thick neck and black mane. He thinks he is in charge.

There was no evidence Augustus was going over the barbed wire. Gaius still stood in one corner calling forlornly right after the escape artist left.

Unlike woven wire, cattle panels are like ladders, stiff. Corners give lots of support for a climbing effort.

The corners are now covered with wire so no buck can stand up there.

Augustus is disgusted. He walks the fences calling. He checks his favorite escape routes.

To his surprise the electric fence bit. The wires held firm. So far the escape artist is staying in.

The Bee Army and My Goats

There must be several wild bee trees out in the woods because there are lots of honeybees around. Lately the bee army is humming up a storm.

Long ago there were two commercial bee hives here. The beekeeper died and the new one wasn’t interested in two hives. When the varola mites moved in, the bees moved out into the woods.

All summer my goats have been reluctant to go out because of horseflies. Having been bitten before I can’t blame them for wanting to avoid these pests.

goat herd at the gate

The gate is open. The pasture beckons. The goat herd stands under the hackberry tree waiting for the horseflies to attack.

I open the pasture gate and drive the herd out. they stand around outside the gate until the horseflies move in. Then they run out to pasture preferably in deep shade to discourage the flies.

A signature of the horseflies is their loud humming buzz as they zero in. It is a signal to the goats to crowd up trying to make sure the neighbor is the victim.

Now that buzz is everywhere.

In the milk room the bald-faced hornets are busy catching flies. Their buzz is very similar so the goats are jumpy making kung fu milking imperative.

Outside the bee army is humming over the giant ragweed. This is a wind pollinated plant with no nectar. Why are the bees moving in?

Adult bees and hornets drink nectar for food. This diet supplies lots of sugary energy but little protein. Their young require protein.

The bald-faced hornets solve this by catching flies to feed their young. Bees use pollen. Giant ragweed produces lots of pollen.

The goats ate the giant ragweed in their barn lot but, being a persistent weed, it regrouped and sent up new branches. Every new branch is tipped with tall towers lined with pollen pockets.

Walking through the ragweed patch leaves long yellow streaks on the jeans. Breathing deeply activates the hay fever.

bee army member on ragweed

Pollen sacs bulging a member of the bee army works her way up a giant ragweed tower stuffing more pollen in.

Every member of the bee army has bulging pollen baskets on their back legs. They land near the base of a tower and crawl upward stuffing more in until the basket is close to bursting.

The basket is unloaded at the hive. The bee returns with empty baskets to fill. The bees are welcome to all the pollen they can gather plus some.

Unfortunately for the goats the path out of the barn lot goes through the giant ragweed humming with bees. They think it is a horsefly army and refuse to go past.

Eventually hunger wins out. The goats go out.

Finding My Goats Can Be Interesting

Every year I watch my goat kids drive away with someone I usually don’t know and don’t expect to ever see again. Every year I hope these kids will have good homes as they grow into goats. That makes finding my goats special.

Most people don’t want to be bothered with registration applications. I used to make them out anyway and send them off knowing they would probably be thrown away.

finding my goats might include this kid

In 2014 High Reaches Topaz Willa had twin does. This is one of them. She is sold. I wish her the best wherever she is.

Tattooing is a nuisance. The kids turn green. I turn green. The kids scream. I cringe. And many people don’t know or care about the tattoos.

I should know better or at least keep faith with my goats. It helps to have reminders now and then.

This year has brought me some reminders.

finding my goats might include this kid

In 2014 High Reaches Josephine had this little doe kid. As a little kid she looks so bland. Her dam did too. As Josephine got older, she started looking beautiful. I wonder if this kid did too.

I haven’t taken my goats to the county fair in ten years or more. My school teaching calendar started the week of the fair and I couldn’t do both. After leaving the classroom I never got back into going.

It was a surprise to hear from people who had purchased kids from me at a long ago fair. Finding my goats was thrilling as these lucky goats had lived into their teens. The people were ready for a new group. They drove off with five new lucky kids.

finding my goats includes this doe

In 2015 High Reaches Sprite’s Matilda had this doe kid. So many people like black goats. This one will only be black in the winter. Her sire’s red will show over the summer. She too was sold and lives somewhere.

Other times finding my goats is not a happy time. One had been with a group turned out to fend for themselves one autumn as their owners drove away. Most of these goats starved to death before a neighbor found them.

Other times finding my goats starts out sad but has a happy ending. It seems two of my goats were sold at auction, close to starving. Somehow their application papers had stayed with them.

finding my goats includes this doeling

This laid back doeling was born in 2015 to High Reaches Bonnie. I wonder if she is still so laid back and sweet or gotten more pushy like Bonnie.

Their new owner wants to get all the paperwork up to date and called. These two lucky goats are now pampered and shown, even winning ribbons.

Next year I will again have those application forms filled out, tattoos done and fingers crossed for luck for those kids. I like finding my goats have been lucky enough to have a good life.

Giant Ragweed Pollen Plague

Giant ragweed is an annual weed. If vegetables grew like it does, a family would need only a twenty foot square plot to feed themselves.

Of course I knew about ragweed that bane of hay fever sufferers. This coarse lacy-leafed plant would send up its towers filled with pollen released to blow on the wind.

The plant got four feet high. It got that tall only if the goats weren’t around.

Then I met giant ragweed only I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was this weed took over my potato patch towering over the poor stunted things at eight feet tall with stalks so thick I used a saw to cut them down!

giant ragweed plant

At up to eight feet tall Giant Ragweed towers over other plants along the road. It puts out branches making it four feet wide.

In the spring seedlings appear as a carpet over the ground. Each of the two cotyledons is a fat green water drop. They grow fast.

Any seedlings not pulled up are six inches tall in ten days. They are knee high in a month.

giant ragweed leaf

Giant ragweed leaves are shaped like dinosaur tracks with three lobes. The leaves can be over six inches wide and eight long.

August arrives. The giant ragweed has a thick stem and branches hung with large three lobed leaves.

Then the towers go up. I stock up on tissue and allergy pills. The towers open up letting loose their clouds of yellow pollen.

pollen flower of giant ragweed

The source of hay fever is in these towers going up from the top of the branches and plant. Each little section releases a cloud of pollen into the wind. each one can be two to four inches tall.

If these plants were only in the garden, control would be work but doable. Instead the plants are around the yard, along the road, in the garden. Anywhere plants can grow, there they are.

Anyone with goats knows what happens when the herd escapes. Fruit trees vanish. Gardens vanish or get trampled.

My herd came in from pasture the other day to find the big gate for the tractor open. No self respecting goat will turn down such an invitation. Mine are very respectful of themselves.

eaten giant ragweed plant

A few hard-to-see stalks and bits of leaf are left after my goats get through eating a giant ragweed plant.

I came out to find the herd had been out on the road and were now in the persimmon tree patch. Damage was minimal. Why?

Giant ragweed coming into bloom is a goat delicacy. The goats passed up all other browse in favor of stripping this weed, knocking it down to finish the job!

The gate is again securely latched. The goats are still enjoying giant ragweed. Only now I cut the stalks and carry them in to the hay trough. The bare stems go out to the brush pile in the morning.

I need to cut faster.

Learn more about goats while working pencil puzzles in Goat Games. Check out the free sample pages.

Kung Fu Milking

Many years ago I had the opportunity to learn some basic kung fu. Little did I know then that I would be practicing kung fu milking now.

So many times people think of martial arts as fighting. They can be used for that but the original purpose was not fighting but getting to know yourself better.

Each move was done deliberately. Each karta was a series of positions done almost as a form of meditation with complete focus pitting your muscles against each other.

Goats provide kung fu milking practice

Nubian doe High Reaches Silk’s Drucilla is one kung fu battlefield although she would rather skip the whole thing.

Then there was defense.

A now very old movie called Karate Kid came out. The kid wanted to learn karate. The old man would teach him.

So the kid was told to use one circular movement to take the wax off the line of cars and another circular movement to put wax back on the cars. The kid thought this was a cheap way for the old man to get his line of vintage cars waxed.

In kung fu we learned similar movements. Swing the arm up, around, down. do the same with the other arm.

So many movies have the main characters attacked. The villain comes at them with a knife. They grab the arm and try to hold it back.

That is a difficult thing to do. Those sweeping movements are used to let the attacking arm slide harmlessly aside as the other arm ending with a fist meets the attacker’s midsection while you visualize breaking a cement block with the force of your blow.

kung fu milking adversary

The enemy is hard to photograph as the camera is terrifying and flies are speedy. Flies look for food constantly buzzing and crawling everywhere, tickling goat legs.

This may be more effective in the realms of self defense but lousy in the world of movies.

How does this apply to milking?

Flies. Flies are the enemy. Their armies appear overnight in full attack. Buzzing. Crawling. Tickling goat legs.

There the goat is on the milk stand. Flies land on her legs. She stomps. The milk bucket goes flying scattering milk as it goes.

kung fu milking arena

Goat hooves are supposed to stay on the stand while a goat is being milked. Flies tickle and cause stomping, harmless when small, milk bucket threatening when big. Kung fu defense protects the bucket hopefully.

Kung fu milking is the first line of defense. The leg comes up. The arm swings over. The leg slides harmlessly back to the milk stand.

Does kung fu milking work all the time? No. But it works often enough to put most of the milk in the tote and not on the floor.

Besides, kung fu milking is good practice for those defensive maneuvers. I think I will skip practicing breaking boards.

Season Too Early

According to the goat books breeding season for goats is in the fall. June is not in the fall on my calendar.
My Nubian bucks Gaius and Augustus live together in the same stall. They go out to pasture together.
Peace reigns in the buck pen from late January to late July. The two boys huddle up in the cold. They eat with reasonable goat versions of manners.
Over the summer the boys graze together out in their small pasture. They come racing in for dinner in the evening.

Nubian buck Goat Town USA Gaius

Where are the girls? Nubian buck Gaius is up on the goat gym so he can see farther. He does still watch for dinner too.

July brings a faint odor to the buck pen. August arrives with a definite reek. The boys hang out at the fence at dinner time until convinced to go in.
June is much too early for this.
Nubian does do cycle all year here in the Ozarks. I found that out the hard way. Over the summer cycles are short and mostly silent.
My does are wagging their tails. Flies, horseflies, ticks and other pests are the usual culprits.
Augustus at a year and a half is convinced the tail wagging is for him. Gaius can’t let that young upstart get ahead of him.
June is too early for breeding season.
In the morning after milking the herd goes out the gate and out to pasture. I put out food for the boys in the barn and open their door.
The chickens are eating well. The boys are out at the gate calling for the girls. Well, Augustus is calling in his high whinnying voice.
All day Augustus calls from time to time hoping one of the does will answer him. None of them do. He is not discouraged.
Gaius and Augustus have started jousting. In spite of being a couple of inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter, Augustus holds his own.
June is too early for arguing bucks.

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk's Augustus

All those girls standing at the gate must be interested in Nubian buck Augustus. At least he thinks so. They just want into the barn to escape the horseflies.

The bucks do get most of their dinner after I convince them it is dinner time. The herd is still outside the gate so there are no distractions.
Dinner time has become a rowdy time. Gaius keeps trying to steal Augustus’ dish or chase him off around the pen.
June is too early for this.
Gaius hangs out one side of the buck pen. Augustus hangs out the other side. The herd streams past heading into the barn to avoid the horseflies.
During milking Augustus serenades me with blathering. The does ignore him. He is not discouraged.
I don’t let the boys breed my does until October. It will be a long noisy summer.

Summer Heat Arrives

March into April into May cool days, even frosts and rain filled the Ozark spring. June has brought summer heat.

Working outside in cool weather only requires a light jacket. One task after another can be tackled over the course of the day.

Summer heat changes the equation. Working out in the hot sun and high humidity takes care and planning.

bucks beat the summer heat

The bucks did spend the day in their pen or under the goat gym. Summer heat has driven them outside into the shade. There is another motivation at work as this is where the herd will come later on in the day.

My animals have the right idea. They tumble out at the crack of dawn to eat or play or both.

As the sun blazes down, the animals retire to the shade. The goats graze or lie around chewing their cuds. The chickens scratch out holes in damp earth. The cats find shady spots to relax and sleep in.

My list of chores isn’t concerned with summer heat. The items on the list need doing.

I am concerned with the heat. So my schedule must adjust.

chicks beat the summer heat

Somehow I just haven’t had time to cut down the weeds in the chick pen. In the heat the chicks don’t mind as they enjoy the shade.

The winter build up in the barn is slowly disappearing from that floor and rolling out to the manure pile. Now it rolls out early in the day instead of after lunch.

Seeding grasses and vigorous weeds line the garden fences. The ones in the shade get chopped and pulled. Those in the sun hope the shade never arrives.

Wet, cool weather delayed planting. Now the intense sun is hard on new transplants.

Summer heat encourages the potatoes to hurry as these are cool weather plants. My pantry again has fresh potatoes in it.

Lettuce and peas are giving way to beans, tomatoes and squash. The weeds are happily trying to go to seed before I arrive to uproot them.

cat beats the summer heat

Tyke finds the shade on the gravel road a great place to keep cool. Besides this allows him to keep an eye out for the rabbits that cross the road. Tyke loves rabbit dinner. So far the rabbits are faster than he is.

Early mornings are delightful. The air is cool and crisp.

Evenings are the best. The cool air brings relief from the summer heat.

The chickens resume their bug hunts. The goats resume grazing gorging on grass seed in competition with the wild turkeys and deer. The cats resume stalking the wily rabbit grazing in the back yard.

I relax in the milk room door watching the fireflies in the gathering dark serenaded by the one whip-poor-will still calling down the valley.

Good Mother Goat Matilda

One definition of a good mother goat, I suppose, is one who takes good care of her kids. Most does would qualify under that definition. Matilda is special.

I keep new kids like Matilda’s inside a special pen for up to a week. By this time the kids are up and playing, ready to be in the barn with the herd.

The second week kids and mothers stay in the barn lot putting up with Gaius and Augustus all day. The bucks mostly ignore the kids as they don’t like being the mountain in king of the mountain play.

When the grass is tall and seeding like now, I let the mothers out the third week but keep the kids in. Lydia and Matilda who have the youngest kids are not happy with this arrangement even though I try to take the kids out in the afternoon.

good mother goat Matilda

High Reaches Sprite’s Matilda Is a calm, unusually quiet Nubian goat and devoted mother goat.

Kids get tired, lay down and go to sleep. The herd moves on. The grass hides them. Finding them is arduous work.

Lydia and Matilda’s kids are tall and lively. They want out so badly. I relented.

Lydia is a first time mother. She is a good mother goat. Her little buck kid is her pride and joy.

Matilda is an older goat. She knows about kids and is very watchful over hers.

Lydia and Matilda were overjoyed. The kids were ecstatic. The three were with the herd that evening.

good mother goat Lydia

The grass stalks wave and rustle in the breeze keeping High Reaches Juliette’s Lydia on the alert protecting her little buck.

So the kids went out again in the morning. This time Matilda’s kids were missing that night. Sometime in the two hours since I had checked on them, they had disappeared.

Some kids will answer me when I call. These might. They would definitely answer Matilda. I put a lead rope on Matilda and we went out.

Some mother goats I must drag away from the barn and herd. Matilda was eager to go. She wanted her kids.

An hour and two pastures plus a creek later, I let Matilda go in. The sun was setting. I went back out checking the creek banks, zigzagging across the pastures, calling.

Flashlights don’t work for kid hunting. Rain was due that night. Darkness was closing in.

An answer! There, at the edge of the woods on the hill beside the hill pasture, two pairs of white ears shone in the darkness.

good mother goat Matilda has two doe kids

Matilda’s two little does are standing yet not tall enough to see over the grass. This makes it easy for them to get lost. They are lucky to have Matilda for a mother.

I was some monster so the kids ran. My voice was familiar so they followed distantly as I went in for Matilda. Then the kids came in.

Of course none of us learned anything from this. The kids went out again the next day. Now all three were missing.

The search area was much smaller so I didn’t bother to get Matilda, just walked out the gate. Good mother goat she is, Matilda was right behind me. We were going searching for her kids.

We backtracked from where the goats were when I went out to open the gate to where they were when I was last out checking on the kids. Matilda called.

A squeak answered. One of the sleepy heads had answered. The three were tucked into the base of a black walnut tree.

The next morning the herd went out. The kids stayed in. I’m glad because this morning the herd went across the creek and down toward the big south pasture and ravine.