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.

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