Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bad behavior...

Ella goat was born right here at FairWinds 5 years ago.  Her mother, Nova, died after she kidded, and I bottle raised Ella, her sister Celeste and a brother.  The brother was sold but Ella and Celeste stayed on. Bottle raised kids are very tame and friendly, because they are handled frequently and they come to rely on their humans for so much.  Celeste is a nice girl; big, placid and a wonderful milker.  Ella is a wretch. Rather than walk politely from the pasture to the garage when it is time to be milked, she races ahead of me, trying to get in the hen yard to eat their food, or gobble up my hanging basket full of petunias, or demolish my flower bed. If all those antics fail, she veers left in the garage instead of going where she knows she should, and plunges her head in the feed barrel, gobbling as fast as she can.  All the while her nice breakfast awaits on the milk stand.

Most goats seem to enjoy being milked.  The milk stand holds their head so they can't leap off, but it is not uncomfortable, and there is a big bucket of grain for them to eat.  Milking also removes the pressure a full udder must present.  Celeste stands rock still when I milk her, not even flinching if a fly lands on her.  Ella, on the other hand, pitches a fit.

She kicks, hard, and I have had the bruises to prove it.  So I got some hobbles. These are soft nylon straps that I fasten around her rear legs. The other ends are anchored firmly to the table, so she can only move her legs about 4 inches in any direction. She cannot kick my teeth out.  The hobbles slow her down some, but she is a crafty thing.  She has learned that she can buck. She lowers her head, and then with both rear legs bounces up as far as the hobbles allow. This causes the entire, heavy milk bench to spring several inches up in the rear, and then come crashing down again under the 175 lbs of goat on top of it. If she is particularly successful, the bench will scrape my shins on the way up and down, and a leg will land on my toes. Painfully. Often she dumps the entire contents of the full milk bucket all over me, the bench and the floor.

I am a calm and patient person, but this goat makes me have violent fantasies.  I threaten to turn her into sausage. I imagine smacking her with a stick.  I sometimes call her very unpleasant names.
She turns a cool eye in my direction. She knows full well I am all bluff. Chris calls her "Cruella."  It suits.

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