Saturday, April 30, 2016

Luna's gift... Zany!

Since that first evening when my husband suggested we bring home a dairy goat, we have had many a zany adventure involving our caprine herd. There have been walks with goats on leashes that turned into the goats in question taking the human on the end of the tether for a brisk drag. There was the very smelly buck in the back seat of my truck. There have been times when young goats danced on the horses back, on the barbecue grill, on the chicken coop, and even on the picnic table when it was set for supper and had guests seated along the benches.  My goats have slipped in the pet door, run amok around the house and nibbled on the furniture before we could catch them and usher them back to the pasture.

I have learned oh so many things... how to give injections and deal with internal and external parasites. How to deliver kids and trim hooves and balance nutrition. How to milk and make soap and cheese and yogurt.  I've gotten to know the nice woman at the feed store and the large animal veterinarian on a first name basis. The neighbors refer to me as, "That lady with all the animals."

Just today my husband and I got roped into driving 2 hours each way to pick up two little newborn bottle baby kids that my daughter had arranged to buy.  She had to work and the dairy where the goats were born wanted them gone, so off we went with a dog crate in the back seat.  It was a lovely day for a drive, and for getting a bit lost, which we did.  Then we trundled two confused little babies into the crate and went out to lunch. With goats in our car.  But that didn't seem too strange when the lady in the car next to us showed me two pretty little chickens she had just bought. It's nice to know I'm in good company.

Here are the new kids.  My daughters first goats of her own.  They are tentatively named Barley and Hops.  It is cold out tonight, so they are snuggled up in a crate in the house. House goats, for heavens sake! 

And it all began with Luna...

 The love, the learning, the hard work and fun and ridiculous moments.  It's all been part of Luna's gift. I am so grateful.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Luna's gift... Yogurt

I have long admired people who make at home what most people buy at the grocery store.  When my friend Marion mentioned that she was making a batch of yogurt she had my rapt attention.  "It's not hard," she told me. I didn't believe her.

Yogurt is the Turkish word for milk that has been curdled with a lactic starter. It can be made from any kind of milk; cow, sheep, goat or even soy milk. Here in the U.S. we are used to eating yogurt made from cows milk, which is then thickened with things like modified food starch, gelatin, or carrageean. Yogurt made at home, without those thickening agents, may not have the same texture as what you are used to, but it is delicious and so good for you!

And it turns out that Marion was right, as usual.  I did some research on making yogurt with goat milk and gave it a whirl. It wasn't hard!

First I heated the fresh milk up to 185 degrees.  Then I chilled it back down to around 110 degrees.  Next I stirred some yogurt cultures (alternately I could have  used some plain yogurt from the grocery store) to a bit of the milk. This was stirred up well, then mixed  in to the rest of the warm milk.  Next it went into my marvelous yogurt maker, which keeps the mix at a nice even temperature. The magic number is around 110-115 degrees. The yogurt then incubates for 8-10 hours.

After that I popped it in the fridge. And then I tried it.

Mixed in with some fresh fruit... tangy, a little sweet, and just delicious.  I make yogurt myself all the time now.  I whip up amazing fruit smoothies, or I have it in a little bowl with a droozle of honey and a handful of walnuts.  Yogurt is full of beneficial bacterial called probiotics that are known to boost the immune system and aid in digestive health.

And it tastes great. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Luna's gift... X rated.

That first year that we had goats I tried to find a male goat, or buck, to come visit. I wanted to breed the girls so we could have kids in the spring and milk for the coming year.  Goats have a 5 month gestation period, and most types of goats only breed in the fall.  You can tell when a female comes into estrus because she become more vocal, more affectionate, and will wag her tail often and with great vigor.  I didn't have much luck finding a buck to borrow. My friend suggest I buy one, keep him until the girls were bred and then sell him.  I did just that. The local swap paper had a male Nubian goat from excellent bloodlines advertised.  We went to get him on a cold October day in my pick up truck.  He rode home in the back seat.

Now let me tell you a little something about male goats.  They smell bad. During the breeding season male goats are said to be in "rut." During this time the scent glands located near their horns produce a heavy musky scent.  Girl goats find this to be irresistibly attractive. And boy goats do something else to make them smell even more "alluring"... they urinate on their faces and beards. I had read about "buck stink," but I had no frame of reference to understand what all the fuss was about.  The day we went to pick up or new Lothario, I blithely popped him into the truck and hopped happily in the passengers seat.  I got a slight whiff of goat and said to my husband, "Oh, that is not so bad..." Then I glanced over at my patient man, behind the wheel. His eyes were watering.  "I feel like I've been maced."  It was then that the full strength of the scent hit me.  We rolled our windows down, and cranked up the heat. It was a long, cold, windy, smelly ride home.  So powerful was the odor that I had a pounding headache by the time we pulled into our driveway.  We never exited a vehicle any faster.

The girls found him to be enchanting.  What followed was two weeks of x rated activity in the pasture. Then I put an ad in the same paper I found him in and sent him off to a nice farm. It took a few weeks for the pasture to lose the stench of him. 

If anyone ever tells you that something "smells like a goat," you will know for certain that it is not a compliment.

Luna's gift... Window watching...

I am lucky enough to live in an old, comfortable house.  There are lots of windows and they look out to meadow and lawn and gardens and woods.  I love how the light streams in and I love how at night the dark presses in like a hug.  But I didn't fully appreciate all the windows until we got livestock.

Where we had the goat and pony cozy built is on a high spot of the property so the drainage is good. And the entrance faces south to protect them from incoming storms. It also happens to be easily visible from both the living room and my work studio.  It delights me to look out and see the animals lounging in the sun, playing,  eating, or getting a long drink of water.

The pasture stretches out behind the house, so while I am in the dining room or kitchen I can glance out and see the animals grazing. I look past the winter speckles on the glass and see the horse and goats moving about in a loose group.  Cars slow down when they pass, people staring at the tranquil scene.
I find myself pausing often just to gaze out. Pleasant little pauses in my daily rounds.

 "I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror.   Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you." Bill Withers

I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you. Bill Withers
Read more at:
I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you. Bill Withers
Read more at:
I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you. Bill Withers
Read more at:
I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you. Bill Withers
Read more at:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Luna's gift... Vexing, vigilant and vocal

There are so many "V" words to describe my goats.
Let's just describe this mornings activities.  I am currently wearing a sling on my right (dominant) arm as I recover from a dislocated shoulder.  For the past 2 weeks my family has been pitching in to do morning livestock chores, but both husband and daughter had to leave the house at 6:00 AM for work today so I was on my own.

The goats were vigilant at the fence, waiting for my arrival. And breakfast.

They well know the time that food arrives, and they are ready.  We have put up temporary hot wire fencing to block off some of the pasture. This will keep the animals off of it while the grasses have a chance to grow and rejuvenate this spring. The horse is extremely respectful of the electric fence, the goats?  Not so much.  Luna must have been really hungry, OR she knows I turn the fence off before I come out with food, because she barged right through to get her breakfast.

After I the goats were fed and milked, I tried to lead them, one at a time, back through the electric fence.  Ella, by far the naughtiest of the goats, went on walk-about and led me on a merry chase around the pasture before I caught her and put her where I wanted her to be.  Jane and Celeste were a bit more manageable.  Luna went docilely where I asked her to go, then did a twirl and went right back out again. She had a yen to nosh on the brush pile it seemed. I left her to her own devices and fed the rabbits.  Luna looked longingly at the other goats and horse out in the big pasture. She let me lead her through the gate and joined the herd.  Vexing minx!

The three darker colored goats all have some Nubian blood. Celeste and Ella had a handsome Nubian father, and he was Jane's grandfather.  He left his mark in those LONG ears and colorful markings. And in their voices. I had read that Nubian goats are loud. They have a lot to say and make no effort to be quiet.  I thought, "How bad could it be?" It's bad. They are the most strident goats ever. Their  voices call out in clarion cries though the stillness of the meadow.  I can tell which voice belongs to which goat, and let me tell you, Jane Doe, the youngest, talks the most. Sometimes her bleats are merely conversational, other times they take on a complaining tone.  She is comical in her constant comments. And vexing.

Luna's gift... Utility

Goats are truly "utility" animals.  They can serve so many purposes, even on a very small farmlette like ours.

Let's just lay out all the things goats can do to be indispensable:
  • Excellent, entertaining companions. 
  • Produce delicious, healthy milk that can be used to make yogurt, cheese and soap.
  • Brush control.  Goats can and do graze on grass, but what is best for them is eating low, pesky, brush.  Poison ivy?  A delicacy!  Goats can clear out a scrubby area like nobody's business.
  • Fertilizer- goat "pellets" make excellent fertilizer.  They are low in odor, do not attract bugs as much as cow or horse manure, are less likely to "burn" plants.  
  • Pack animals- goats can be trained to carry a pack or pull a wagon, making them very useful for hiking or hauling things. 
  • Wool!  Did you know that some breeds of goats produce fine, warm, beautiful wool?  Angora goats are bred specifically for this reason.  Cashmere, that most coveted warm wool is from goats.  
  • Skins-Goat skins are used widely to make durable, warm garments.
  • Meat- I am so fond of my goats I rather hate to mention it, but goat meat is delicious.High in protein and low in fat, Chevon is widely eaten world wide, only recently gaining popularity here in the U.S.  It tastes a bit like beef, and a bit like lamb.
 Versatile, adorable and easy to keep, goats can be utilized in so many ways. I think everyone should have a few!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Luna's gift... Trust

Goats were among the first of all domesticated animals, and began their relationship with humans 10-11,000 years ago.  It is believed that Neolithic farmers in the Near East were the first to keep goats for their meat, milk and hides.  This long relationship has certainly been of benefit to humans, and the handful of wild goats tamed those many years have turned into around 300 known breeds of domestic goats today.

This long relationship has resulted in animals that are friendly, smart and easy to handle.  What is a special gift though, is the trust that goats have in their humans.  They rely on us for food, water, shelter and medical care. But they also have genuine relationships with their people.  I have evidence of this due to the way my goats act when they give birth.  They want me with them. In fact, they insist upon it.

When Ella kidded two years ago it was a yard work day. I had been out and about all day, fixing fences, clearing away winter debris from the pasture, cleaning up and patching up.  Ella was staying close to the goat cozy, even when the other girls were out grazing. I was keeping an eye on her.  In the late afternoon she began to call out, and only stopped when I joined her and sat down.

Once I was there, with a stack of clean towels and other birth assistance materials, she settled down.

And began to push.

In no time two little feet in a slippery bag appeared, with a nose just behind them.

Labor was hard!
Ella seemed comforted that I was there.

In no time two strong, adorable bucklings entered the world.

Ella let us dry them off, dip their umbilical cords in iodine to prevent infection, and even help them up to nurse.  This level of trust brings tears to my eyes.  She wanted me with her during this major event. She allowed me to handle her new babies from the moment they emerged. She gave every evidence that my presence at this time was important to her.

Having that level of trust in someone is such a gift.  And having an animal offer that level of trust to me seems like nothing short of a miracle.

Kind of like the marvel embodied in the adorableness of baby goats.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Luna's gift... Simplicity...

Life as a human is busy.  There is the work we do to earn money that occupies our time, rooms to clean, laundry to wash, errands to run.  There are social engagements to attend, relationships to mull over, lawns to mow and gardens to weed.  In my mind there is a whirling "to do" list that keeps me hopping.  "I have to remember to call those customers back, and to thaw some meat for tonight's supper, and mail that card and go to the bank..."  It is difficult for me to turn the brain chatter down, even at the end of the day when it is time to rest and relax a bit. Many a night I lie in bed, sleepless, with untamed thoughts churning in my head.

The goats give no evidence of a similar problem. They live a simple life. When they eat, they eat with gusto. When they play, they involve their whole bodies to the process. When they rest, they rest deeply and comfortably.

I have found that no matter what the cyclone of ideas in my head is thrumming on about, if I take time to sit still a while and watch my livestock, the whirling stills.  If I really focus on them, simply observing them, I can stop time for moment or two. I suspend judgement, I cease planning, I watch without thought. For a fraction of my life I put analyzing on hold. I let the sounds around me filter past, and focus on the animals themselves.  Imagine a small child watching a bee in a flower.  They put their whole concentration into gazing at the actions of the wee thing before them.

When I make an effort to be still and witness what my animals are doing, I find that I am more present in my physical self, and the endless distraction of my subconscious mind is stilled. Here I find peace, and when I find peace all the good and joyful things that make up a part of life are amplified. It's really quite simple. And in that simplicity there is quiet and rest.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Luna's gift... Rain and snow and how to behave in bad weather.

When I was brand new to goats, and doing lots of reading about their care, I came across something that said, "If the weather is bad for an extended period, make sure your goats have access to food and water in their barn. They won't go out in heavy rain or snow."  I found this rather surprising.  My horse is perfectly happy to graze in the rain, the sheep I had previously owned were out in all weather.  Why not goats?  I suspected that the person that wrote that was being melodramatic.

Then it rained all day one day. And the goats refused to set a hoof out the door. The same is true for snowy days.  A sprinkle or a dusting, they will venture out to eat and drink, but if the weather is harsh, they stay put.

I will keep the hay rack full and haul a bucket of water out to the goat cozy twice a day.  I bring a few snacks, too, to liven things up.

They will spend some time looking longingly out the door, but mostly, they settle in.

They don't like wet, boggy ground, either.  Mud makes them cranky.  In the spring when the ground thaws and the rains come, they trip about like kids on tip toe, acting as if every step were torture.

Here in Maine storms can blow through with great force, and last for days.  The goats have taught me that the best way to deal with them is to lay low. Rest. Nap a little. Eat a bit more than you might ordinarily.  Watch the beauty of the storms from a safe spot.  Then rest some more. Good weather will return, and that is when it is time for the daily frenzy of activity that is the norm.  Moving with the rhythms of nature is a better idea than fighting the wet, wind and weather. Goats have better sense than a lot of people I know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Luna's Gift... Queen of the Herd

When groups of goats are kept together they form a definite and obvious pecking order.  If males and females are in the herd, there will be a dominant  male and a herd queen. In herds such as mine, where there is no resident buck, the queen is the ultimate ruler of the other goats. The queen is not always the largest goat, but she is often the oldest.  In our herd the reigning queen is Luna.

As queen she gets top choice of the best places to rest, first dibs on food and the best position at the hay rack.  She reminds the other does of their place with frequent head butting contests. Sometimes they butt so hard that spots of blood appear on their skulls.

When they go out to graze, the herd queen leads the other goats.  If she comes to a food that she knows is not good for goats to eat she will smell it, snort loudly and stomp her foot.  This shows the younger goats what foods to avoid.

And when the goats come to a sapling tree that looks luscious but has branches that are out of reach, one of the lower members of the herd will rear up, using her strong legs and fore-chest to bend the tree low to the ground. This puts the leaves in reach of the queen and other herd members. The goats will take turns doing this until the leaves are gone or the goats are all full.

When I check on the goats on a cold winter night and see Luna lying deep in clean shavings, in the most coveted spot of the Goat Cozy, surrounded by the warm bodies of the other girls, I am reminded- it is good to be queen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Luna's gift... Pasturized vs. Raw milk

Growing up as a kid in the '60's we had milk delivered to our home twice a week.  Mr. Kelloway, in his blue and white pin striped overalls and jaunty cap, would arrive in his panel truck. He would gather up bottles of milk and cream,  stow then in a metal carrying rack, then swing up the pathway on his impossibly long legs.  If were not home, he would tuck those bottles into an aluminum cooler made specifically for this purpose that sat by the back door. We used to hide the spare house key under there, too. 

The milk was, of course, pasteurized. Pasteurization of milk, (the process of heating it to 161.6 degrees for 15 seconds) became mandatory in most states by the 1930's.  The topic of pasteurized vs. raw milk is one that is hotly debated.  Many people want the right to choose to use and enjoy raw milk, believing that the pasteurization process kills many of the valuable nutrients in milk and changes the chemical composition of it in undesirable ways.

At our house, the milk is served up raw. It is not without the occasional pang of uncertainty, because we have been well and properly convinced by the government that drinking raw milk is a danger.
But when I waver I think about how humans have prized milk from goats, cows, yaks, camels, sheep, reindeer and even horses for as long as the earliest records have been kept. Early human artifacts have traces of milk residue... humans have been drinking raw milk for 30,000 years. 

My goats are tested for any harmful diseases, and we keep the milking gear spotlessly clean. Milk goes from the udder to the kitchen to be filtered and quickly chilled.  I join in the long standing tradition of humans who enjoy dairy from healthy animals, just as nature intended. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Luna's Gift... Optical interest

"My husband will never let me get goats," my cousin once told me. "He thinks they have creepy eyes."

It's those horizontal pupils. They take some people by surprise.  Not round like a humans, or vertical like a cats, but big, dark, horizontal slits.
I had to wonder what purpose those sideways eyes served. So I did a little research. As it turns out, the positioning of the pupil has a lot to do with if an animal is predator or prey.  Goats fall firmly into the prey category.

Since goats spend a lot of time grazing things that grow on the ground, or browsing into low shrubbery, they need eyes that will help them see above and behind them while they eat. Grazing animals can rotate their eyes 10 times further than humans can, allowing them a wide field of view. And those oddly shaped eye slits allow them to keep their eyes parallel to the ground, no matter what position their head is in.*

It is hard for one to sneak up on a goat, and they can thank their unusual eyes for that. And that cousin I mentioned earlier?  She has two pretty new little doelings at her house. I bet her husband will learn to think their eyes are lovely.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Luna's gift... Nova

I fell so in love with Luna, I bought a second goat.  Another white dairy goat, part Saanen, part Nubian.  She was a tall goat, and only one word could properly describe her.  Regal.

Luna, on the left, and her kid liked the newcomer right away.
I liked her, too.  She had a sweet spirit.  Bonus points, she was lovely on the milk stand, had a nice udder and gave large amounts of delicious milk.

We named her Nova.  She and Chanel, the horse, became tightly bonded to one another.  So much so that even the neighbors commented on it. "That one big goat is always with the horse," they'd say.

In the fall, when goat breeding season arrived, we arranged for a buck to come stay a while and breed the girls, so that we could have kids in the spring.

On my birthday in March, Nova delivered three adorable dark colored kids.  The first kids born here. It was magical and wonderful. I got to help clean them off and welcome them to the world. The kids were beyond cute. But Nova didn't bounce back from the birth.

She didn't want to stand, or eat much, or drink.  The veterinarian came out. She scratched her head. I gave Nova calcium drenches. I shot her full of antibiotics. I wormed her. I gave her vitamins. I tempted her with fresh romaine lettuce from the market. We insisted she get up and move, which became more difficult by the day. She got worse and worse.  We made the heartbreaking decision to put her down.

So, here I was with three infant kids and no mama to raise them.  I was heart broken about losing my goat friend.  And Chanel the horse was bereft.  She called and whinnied for Nova, looking for her everywhere. It was a sad and dark time at FairWinds. My farmer friend told me something that stopped me in my tracks because it was so stunningly truthful.  "Where you have livestock, you will have dead stock."

And there you have it. The blatant, in-your-face, facts of life that one experiences on a farm. New babies bringing joy and laughter. Sweet companions dying before their time and knocking you to your metaphorical knees. The circle of life is blatant  when you live with animals. 

Nova's legacy lives on here, embodied in her two daughters, Ella and Celeste.  I catch the occasional glimpse of her regal spirit in the arch of their necks, the curve of their voluptuous frames. Living this close to animals is bittersweet for certain. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Luna's gift... Milk...

Luna is a Saanen goat, a dairy breed that originated in Switzerland.  When she came to live here she had recently "freshened."  This means she had kidded, and was producing milk to feed her baby. That is how it is with dairy animals, they must give birth to produce milk. A good diary goat can "milk through," or continue to produce milk for a long time after she has kidded, sometimes years.  The amount produced dwindles, but it is interesting to know that they can continue to give milk without being bred.  In her prime, Luna easily gave us a gallon of milk a day.  That is a lot of milk from one 150 pound animal.

I waited a couple of weeks after she arrived before I tried to milk her.  She had been milked at her previous home, and knew the drill.  She'd hop up on the milk stand and enjoy a meal while I fumbled about and tried to learn the art of getting the warm, white liquid out of the goat and into the pail.  Luna was patient with me and it wasn't too long before I had mastered the skill.  It is a peaceful thing... milking.  There is a pleasant rhythm to the work.

To be honest, I was hesitant to try the goat milk at first.  I had my husband pour a glass of cows milk and one of goat milk, and let me blind taste test. I didn't know what to expect, but I suspected I wouldn't like the stuff.  Happily, I was wrong. Cool, sweet and creamy, we soon stopped buying cows milk altogether. It makes me happy to look into the refrigerator and see neat jars of fresh milk lined up in a row.

Once her kid was weaned and sold to another farmer, Luna produced more milk that we could consume.  We fed it to the chickens, we fed it to some young pigs we raised, we fed it to the dogs and gifted it to neighbors.  Milk from our little farm has gone to feed orphaned lambs, piglets whose mama was sick and couldn't nurse them, orphaned goats and once even a baby cow that couldn't digest formula.

It amazes me that goats can turn scrub and grass, hay and grain, into delicious, nourishing milk. My husband quips, "They are pets with benefits."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Luna's Gift.. Ludic

Reading through some of the other blogs on the A-Z challenge, I learned a new word. Now I can't find the blog to give her credit, and I feel badly, but here is the word, just the same: LUDIC.

It means "playful in an aimless way. "

I have learned that goats are masters at this.
And it makes me think of the times I delight my family,by doing something silly, child-like and spontaneous.  Bursting into a song with made up words, dragging my fully dressed little kid into the bathtub with me, snatching someone up and smothering them with kisses. I don't do it often enough, but maybe I'll remember to be ludic more often. Like my goats.

Luna's Gift... Kindred spirits...

One of the reasons I brought Luna to live here is because I was moving my lovely horse, Chanel, home instead of boarding her at a friends barn.  Horses and goats are both herd animals, and become stressed when they live alone. I hoped that the horse and goat would become friends.

And indeed, they did.  In fact, all four goats are friends with the horse. They share meals, they lay down near each other to rest, and they move about together in a loose group when they graze.  If I take the goats out of the horses line of sight, she will call for them.

 And if something alarms the goats, such as an unusual sound, they all run to cluster around the largest member of the herd.

The horse is so bonded to the goats that when kidding season comes, she has been known to help clean off the babies when they are born.  And then she will run around the pasture, whinnying and kicking, as if in celebration.

Did you know where the term, "Has someone got your goat?" comes from?  Race horses were once kept with a goat as a companion.  The goat would live with the horse, and travel with it to races.  If someone wanted to upset a horses chance for winning a race, they would nip in and steal the goat away.  The horse would be too upset to run well when it was missing its friend.

Living with goats, and a horse, and all these other animals, has shown me the power of relationships. Having friends that are wonderful companions enriches all aspects of my life... no matter if those friends walk on two feet or four.  Kindred spirits are gifts to be treasured.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Luna's gift... Joyful...

Every day, the goats remind me to be joyful. 
Last week, while attempting to carry hay to the animals, I tripped, and fell so hard that I dislocated my shoulder. Recovery is slow and uncomfortable. Yesterday I let myself get into a bit of a blue funk over this state of affairs. I can't work, or do many of my normal daily routines, until my shoulder is much better. 

After stewing a while I took myself outside.  Here in Maine spring is late in arriving, but out in the pasture, with the goats nuzzling me and cadging treats, I heard a loon call loudly from the nearby lake. One of my favorite sounds, it was a treat to hear it echoing in the chill air .  A bluebird flitted past me, the chickens chased one hen who had found a worm in the thawing soil.  Outside, with the animals around me, I felt my glum mood slip away. 

Once the treats were gone from my pockets the goats began to frolic about, head butting one another, racing around, leaping into the air with a grace that belies their size.  I smiled.  I laughed a little.
I was thankful to be reminded of all the good around me.   My goats seem to spend precious little time worrying.  But they spend a lot of time being joyful.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Luna's Gift... Inquisitive

Goats are smart and inquisitive by nature.  They are anxious to investigate anything new in their pasture.  If I drive the truck in for any reason, the goats are in the bed, checking things out.  I make sure to close the cab and pocket the keys, or who knows what will happen?

If my camera comes out, soon a goat will be there... seeing what is up.

And if a new person visits...

they are greeted with enthusiasm. A warm goat welcome.

Unusual things are to be seen, smelled, tasted and touched. All senses fully engaged as whatever life brings them is explored.

They are not fearless, bounding into new situations. Instead they are what I refer to as "the three C's, careful, cautious, but curious.  Not a bad way to go about life.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Luna's Gift... Haute Goature...

(With a nod to niece Aimee for today's topic and title)

When I first bought Luna and brought her to FairWinds, she was wearing an old, hard, stiff, nylon dog collar.  This collar had probably been worn by many goats at the farm she came from. It was so tired from use and weather that it was impossible to guess what color it had started as.  The hardware was rusted and dirt encrusted.  It had been on Luna's elegant neck a long time. I could tell because all the hair was rubbed off in a wide spot where the collar chaffed. Under that bald spot was a thick, hard callus.  I asked the woman who was selling her if she thought that callus could be healed up.  She scoffed and shrugged.  "I doubt it."

 I took that ugly collar off as soon as I got my new goat settled safely in.
I began to massage the callus with special balm several times a day.  Luna seemed to enjoy this.

It wasn't long, however, before I realized that having a collar on my goat was a handy thing.  One can lead a goat from place to place with a collar,  or catch them if they try to dash out a gate to dine on the perennial flower bed. But I didn't want anything to irritate Luna's neck.  On a whim I tied a soft cotton bandanna around her.  It looked charming, and did the trick!
Within a few weeks Luna began to grow hair on her neck, and the callus softened.But the bandanas stayed...
The colors change with the seasons... blaze orange when hunters are about, pastels for spring, red and green at Christmas. Inexpensive bright swatches that make people smile, and never irritate tender necks. Comfy clothes can be stylish. Just check out the haute goature in my pasture!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Luna's Gift... Great escapes...

Goats are notoriously difficult to keep inside a fence.  There is a saying, "if your fence wont hold water, it wont hold goats."  We have not had much difficulty keeping our goats in their pasture, but every so often they do make a break for it.  Once out they dine on all the delicacies that have been previously  out of reach, and they explore joyfully.

But I notice that they keep an eye towards home, and when I come to fetch them they race back to their familiar turf with glee.

When I was a child and our family went on vacation, my father would always say the same thing as we turned up our long driveway upon our return. "It's good to go away, but its good to come home, too!"

My goats are living examples of this philosophy.They love to roam, but know there's no place like home.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Luna's Gift...Frolicing Friends...

I fell so in love with Luna that I decided that goats were much like potato chips.  I couldn't have just one.  The current herd consists of Luna and three friends.  Ella, Celeste and Jane Doe.  Luna is herd queen, and my undeniable favorite, but each and every one of the others adds to the joy of goat-keeping.

One of the wonderful things about goats is that they are prone to frolicking. We provide things for the girls to hop up and on. Here Jane and Ella are up a on bridge we made them on two wooden spools.

Celeste looks on, but most always joins in. The goats are amazingly nimble, despite their size, (150-175 lbs.)  They are excellent at leaping and twisting.  Goats are in the caprine family, and this is where the word capricious comes from. A word that means "Subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd, notion or unpredictable change; erratic." (

They are a joy to watch.

And to emulate...