Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Have Yours...

You have yours, I have mine.  We all have 'em...quirks, idiosyncrasies, habits.  Even the goats have 'em.  The change in sleeping quarters for Cindy and Satomi has wreaked havoc with routine.  On our best days when all goes smoothly, we still look like a Keystone Cops comedy as I run around opening this door and that, letting the girls out or herding them in to their rooms.  It all goes to pot when there is a disruption.  I noticed yesterday that I had left the grooming brush out from the morning's spa treatment for the girls.  It normally gets put in a case after the last goat is done to keep the mice from chewing it up.  Sure enough, the little critters had busily pulled soft fluff out of the bristles during the night and bristles were missing.  In the flurry of getting the right goats into the right rooms at bedtime, I'd also left the gate between the pens open; normally closed at night purely as a precautionary measure.  It also keeps the girls contained while waiting for their turn on stand in the morning.

Cindy is not used to being let out first, so she wanders the hall while I open the door for Ruthie.  "No, no!  You go on outside!"  Ruthie is old and slow and needs some coaxing.  She isn't used to seeing another goat in the hall and so comes to a complete halt.  Sheila, standing on her hind legs, is watching all this over her half-door, and Poppy begins to bellow at the delay.  Finally getting the first batch out and Sheila up on the stand, the last three are let out and I settle down to milk.  Mice are waiting on the sidelines for milk and cereal.  The barn birds begin their aerial dogfights, sometimes diving so close that their wings ruffle my hair.  Impatient, they jump into the feed bucket on the shelf and help themselves, squabbling over who gets first helpings.

I've come to expect certain behavior from each of the girls.  Esther wants her head rubbed before putting it into the stock and to see me pick up the brush before beginning to eat.  She wants to make sure she's going to be spiffed up for the day.  (She's very vain.)  Before leaving the room, Cindy puts her face up to mine.  For some reason, she likes to smell my breath (???).  Tessie prefers that I fill her bowl before she comes in, and she is the only goat that leaves the stand to the left; all others go to their right.  Inga will stop to clean up every dropped kernel before she'll go out, and Sheila has to check out the big room (where she never goes) through the connecting grate.  Ruth's legs are too wobbly now to allow her to jump up on the stand so I sit and hold the bowl within her reach while she slowly noses her way through the cereal.  There is a misconception that goats will eat any- and everything; not so.  It's pretty funny to see the pellets added to lactating goat chow bloop out the side of Ruthie's mouth like watermelon seeds.  They are obviously not her favorite.  She will eat them, but only as a last resort.

My normal routine for cleaning stalls and filling feed bowls and buckets is completely shot.  It's up to me to develop a new one so I don't leave brushes out and gates open.  It is once again brought home to me that the belief that I'm in charge is an illusion in my own mind.

I had forgotten that chickens like to be covered, but did darken the cage with a big towel last night for Satomi.  She's moving around a bit more, and has adopted the folded "landing pad" instead of sitting in the feed bowl all day.  I had to introduce her to the new waterer.  Change is hard, even for little hens.

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