Monday, September 10, 2012

Table Manners

The reason the goats willingly jump up on the stand and put their head into the stock is that there is a platform on the other side with a hole cut just big enough for a bowl of cereal (goat chow).  They have breakfast while I tend to their other end, be it milking, hoof trimming, or shots.  Each goat gets exactly the same feed and exactly the same amount, and that's where all "sameness" ends.

Cindy, first in line, simply inhales her food.  She gobbles it down like she'll never get another meal.  Finished and freed, Cindy jumps off the stand and heads for the small pile put down for the mice.  She gets a mouthful of their grain, I grab her ears to pull her away, and out the door she goes.  We do this every morning.  Ruth hangs around the barn and waits to be next (the others go up to the corner for alfalfa).  Ruthie is my oldest girl now and will not be rushed.  She eats s-l-o-w-ly, giving me time to clean stalls and I'm usually done first.  She always tips the bowl to get every last crumb.  Ruth takes her time getting off the stand, waiting for a butt rub and then turning to get a head rub too.  Her dawdling drives Inga, impatiently waiting outside the door, nuts.  Other than being easily spooked, Inga is a no-nonsense girl.  She plants her feet solidly and enjoys her breakfast.  Her idiosyncrasy is that, when the cereal is gone, she removes the empty bowl and looks down through the "porthole."  I suppose she's watching the mice and squirrels, but who knows.  Vanity, thy name is Esther.  Esther will not begin to eat until she's been brushed and prettied for the day.  She, like Ruth, is not a milker, so I can either take a break or finish cleaning.  Esther inevitably turns her dish over.  We've had discussions about wastefulness, but she prefers to nibble the grain from the tray instead of the bowl, regardless of how much gets spilled on the ground.  What kind of kickback is she getting from the mice?  By this time, Tessie is getting panicky that she is going to miss out and stands on hind legs so she can see over the Dutch door.  Esther ignores her and continues to rub her head against my side until she's darned good and ready to go out.  Tessie dashes in, jumps up on the stand and gets a little frantic until I fill the bowl.  Then she settles down and has probably the best manners of any of them.  Tess still wears a collar.  Finished with her own breakfast, she has to clean up any of Esther's spilled cereal on the stand and really would like to get to that on the ground.  I need that collar to haul her off and head her toward the door.  Then there's Sheila, the caboose on the goat train.  Some days she shows up at the door right on time and some days we have to play Chase Me.  Regardless, once she begins eating and I start milking, she's my reward for whatever I've gone through with the others.  She milks out as much or more as any of the others but in half the time and twice as easy.  When done, she and I head out to open the gate to the big field and then she stands there with me to get a little lovin' before I go back in to set up the barn for bedtime.

None of them puts their elbows on the table.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

That was a FUN read. Thank you for the expanded version of your morning ritual. We all know first hand that cats and dogs have different personalities, one from the other in each breed, so I guess it's fair to assume that all critter moms could be heard saying, "Now this is my shy little one, and this is my show off, and this one is ornery..." Who knew?