October 05, 2008

Quiet Time with the Goat Herd

Life on a farm sometimes seems so busy with chores and an endless and ever growing list of things that need done that I feel like I don’t often enough just get to relax and actually enjoy the blessing of living in the country and spending time with the farm animals. I spend a great deal of busy time with the goats and other animals everyday as I make sure they have plenty of food and water and a clean, dry place to sleep but I have also decided that it is also important to slow down for a bit every once in awhile. That is what I did yesterday after morning chores as I spent some quiet, relaxing time with the goat herd.

It was a beautiful fall morning, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the weather was pleasant and comfortably warm. As I walked up to the goat pasture a breeze sent a flurry of colorful fall tree leaves dancing across the yard and pasture. I didn’t get very far into the buck’s pasture before Dudley, a very large Great Pyrenees dog spotted me as he bounded up and greeted me the way he does every morning, with a big nose, some drool and an insistent, if not slightly pushy request for attention.

Good Morning Dudley!

After saying hello to Dudley and feeding him and the buck goats their breakfast, I continued up to the does & wether’s pasture where a herd of impatient goats waited for their breakfast; actually they had already been out in the pasture browsing on tree leaves and weeds for breakfast but they are always ready for a bit of grain and while I don’t over do it with the grain, I do like to give them some grain each morning so they stay on a schedule and it affords me the opportunity to check everyone out each day and make sure no-one isn’t feeling well or is off in any way. No one was feeling off today, everyone had a bounce in their step and was feeling their oats.
After the chaos and disagreements over who got what feed pans settled down and the goats finished off their grain, they all started settling down to relax and digest what they had already eaten that morning. Goats are ruminants, which means their stomach has four compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum and they chew cud. I have always enjoyed watching the goats chewing their cud, relaxed and content.
The mother and daughter team of livestock guardian dogs, Abby and Bayla stick close to the goats and keep a watchful eye out for any problems. They are Great Pyrenees dogs which are an old breed that comes from the Pyrenees Mountains and have been watching over and protecting livestock for centuries. It wasn’t long before several of the goats came up to me seeking face scratches and attention. Emma as usual was one of the first to come up for attention, she is a very sweet Boer doe and one of my favorite and most loved does, she is one of the first Boer kids born on our farm so I have known her since she was born. I set a lawn chair in the pasture under a walnut tree where I could relax for a bit while I watched the goats. I would have liked to take a cup of coffee up to the pasture with me, but Emma loves the stuff. Normally I would always be happy to share, but she insists on drinking straight from my cup with cud still in her mouth and well…that is just rude.
Sweet Emma
Rose is another favorite that came up for attention that morning, she is a dark red Boer/ Nubian cross doe that was born right here on our farm. She likes to gently put her nose up to my face and blow little goatie “kisses” and if I scratch her neck and side she will lay her head on my lap and close her eyes in utter contentment.
I had moved my chair a little ways from the herd so that I could try and get the whole herd in some pictures and so I could lean up against a tree. It was not long before I noticed one by one the goats would get up from where they had originally laid down at and would move closer to me before laying back down to chew their cud. It wasn’t long until the whole herd and moved down the hill to lie near where I was sitting. My most senior doe, “Trouble” got up to come lay right beside where I was sitting. There is no denying how social goats are and they seem to enjoy my company as much as I was enjoying theirs.

Boer doe "Trouble" and the rest of the herd.
It was nice to spend some quiet time with the herd that morning, sitting under that walnut tree listening to the cheerful sound of birds and the occasional hums of contentment from a peaceful herd of goats chewing their cud and enjoying the day as much as I was. Several of the goats took a late morning nap and even the usually alert dogs took that peaceful time to take a break.
Boer doe "Rock" takes a nap with her herd, while Bayla enjoys the sunshine.

I could have stayed out there with the goats for a lot longer, it was a nice time but there were still things that had to get done. I had more chores to do and the goats had more goaty business of their own to take care of. So we both got up and stretched and headed out, me back down to the house and the goat herd and dogs out to the pasture.


Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures Jennifer

Jennifer said...

Thank you Amy!

Able Oaks Dairy Goats said...

October is such a lovely month. For starters, it usually signals the end of super hot weather here in Texas. But it also means the start of a whole set of new farm chores: seeding winter grass, getting the barn cleaned for winter goat kidding, replenishing my neonatal vet kit, shots, toenail trims etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,
I understand about being busy.
I was feeling the same way. It just seemed like we weren't ever catching up on chores.
Then in the evening as we sit at the pond(that has dwindled down about 4 feet due to the drought)
that my husband and I feel so thankful.
When we had around 60 goats we had a pair of Great Pyrenees dogs, Henry and Angel. They were so good about staying with the herd and protecting them. When we sold most of the goats, Henry and Angel went to another goat farm that needed them. I do miss them.
I enjoyed looking at your blog too.
Thanks for the visit and comment.

Jennifer said...

You just reminded me of a couple more things I need to put on my list! :-)

I can't imagine having 60 goats to take care of! We have 34 right now (will be 24 when we take the meat wethers to Wichita)and they keep me very busy!

PEA said...

Hi Jennifer:-)

Thank you so much for coming by my blog and leaving a comment, I so love meeting new people! I've really enjoyed reading this post...I know all the work that is involved in having a farm with animals and it's lovely that once in a while you can relax and just take in the warmth and contentment of a beautiful day:-) Makes me wish I could have been there! Love all the pictures of the goats, such wonderful characters they all seem to have and the dogs are just gorgeous as well!! xox

Anonymous said...

We have 70 goats right now!

Jennifer said...

70! Wow...how do you keep up with everything? that is a full-time job I am sure. How many of them are you milking?

LambAround said...

Oh, how I would love to have a little goat! And a chicken! I read about Cinnamon (the official name?) a few posts back and can't help wondering if 2011 will end with Goats and chickens in your garden :)