The number one problem with accepting goats into your life is this: You will fall in love.
You will fall so deeply and so hard for these little creatures that your heart will break for their hurts and rejoice in their happinesses. You’ll let them chew on your clothes and rub their stinky heads on your jeans. And when presented with the opportunity, you will kiss them. Smack dab on those funny little lips of theirs. And if you’re lucky – they’ll let you.
You can’t have just one. You really can’t. The happy feeling that swells up inside you as you realize not one, not two, but SIX goats are running your way across the pasture (along with one very large and fluffy dog) is quite unbeatable.
And I want so many more.
On Saturday, I strapped on my fashion-forward overalls (courtesy of H & M) and farm-girled to the MAX. This weekend was going to be one for the goats – the good and the ugly. But it ended on a high note, and I commenced this work week with one extra mouth to feed and two crazy bucklings talking like sailors back on the homestead. (Or so I can only help but think.)
As any goat mama knows, when you have baby goats there’s a long to-do list of checkups, shots and procedures that one may or may not choose to do. One of those things that we thought we’d avoided by nature’s blessing was the need for ‘disbudding’ – i.e. burning out the horns of a baby goat so they won’t grow and be a danger to themselves or others.
Apparently this is a controversial topic that was made all the more obvious to me when I found out that the process – if done incorrectly – could lead to brain swelling and long-term damage. But alas, we discovered some little bumps on our bucklings heads and had to face the fact that it was now or never. So I made the appointment with our local vet.
I spoke with the veterinarian and was assured that the risk for damage to the babies was only high in cases where people attempted to perform the procedure themselves. And after what I saw that day, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll never be one of those people. Because I can’t unsee or unhear what I experienced in those brief minutes of witnessing the disbudding of my first baby goats. That, my friends, was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to do.
You can’t explain to a baby goat why his brother is being taken away. You can’t tell the one being given his first CDT shot that it will only hurt for an instant. You can’t tell that baby that the hot iron being rubbed onto his horn buds will only be there for a minute and that the pain will cease almost immediately.
And you can’t assure either one that they’ll be okay as they cry out in fear, desperately trying to find one another and understand why the other is yelling so loud.
You just have to trust that it will all be okay and that they’ll have already forgotten about it within an hours’ time, once they’re back home safe and sound with their herd.
Sure enough, by that very afternoon, they were already pounding their heads into one another in their play-fight games they’re so well known for these days. To make it all the more comical, now they’re getting little voices. Tiny “woos” and “coos” and “buhs” and spits. They sound like they’re carrying on their own hilariously private conversation. And it’s one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever been witness to.
But then there’s this: as I’ve mentioned before, my two little bucklings will soon have to go. My OG baby Chip is growing into a strapping young man-child with adult urges and his sincerest “Hold me like you mean it” mentality, which won’t be the best combination once these little guys start coming into their own.
We’ve always known that if we truly wanted to be able to grow this herd all by ourselves, then we were going to need more ladies in the mix. A harem, if you will. And so this weekend, I bit the bullet and bought myself a baby girl. While we’d ideally love to bring in another already-mama goat, or at least one ready to be, I didn’t see the harm in raising yet another young tot so she could get to know us and grow into her own as a part of our herd. Plus, I couldn’t resist the sight of her.
She’s GREY. And so, of course, I’m going to call her Grey. Lady Grey. Because only I would find some reason to work that word/color into my goat universe. She’s preciously tiny. And one day, odd as it may seem to think about now, she is going to make some beeeaaauuuutiful babies. Grey babies. (insert evil mastermind finger twiddling here)
But seriously y’all, the greatest peril of being a #GoatBoss is the inescapable fact that you can’t have enough. The accumulation of goats becomes its own high and its own challenge. Introducing a new goat into the fold is both nerve-wracking and exciting because you never know just how it’s going to end. I never thought I’d be spending my Saturday going goat shopping – but here I am. And much as I still enjoy a day at the mall, this thrill is something else.
Miss Grey, upon arriving in our pasture, couldn’t shut up. She was just screaming and yelling and wouldn’t let us get one hand on her. She’s kind of like one of those viral Taylor Swift mashup videos that took the world by storm several years ago. But then we left her alone for a few hours, and by the time we came back from dinner, she was running about like she’d been there forever.
And then, praise be, on Sunday we did get our hands on her. And she curled up right in Webb’s lap and just died there – in a good way, of course. Soon enough, Chip was lying up against his leg, as was Hank. And then the baby boys came over to settle for a minute. Followed by the dog. Followed by Mama Goat. We had a menagerie of goatdom surrounding us on all sides! I got my own turn with the new girl and sure enough got her to relax right into my arms, perfectly content and trusting.
It made me realize, for all I don’t know about goats and all I still have to learn about breeding and caretaking and registrations – it won’t be so bad. We’ve got a great home for these little guys and gals, and they’re happy and building their own little family among themselves. I’m even, in my own way, a part of it. So I must be doing something right.