A Socratic Rancher 11-29-10
Just when I thought I’d seen and heard it all about the curious and funny things goats can do, I was visiting with my neighbor, Tim, who runs about 2,000 goats. Though he has a few sheep mixed in, and occasionally buys a specialty goat such as a calico Boer billy, Tim’s main game is commercial Boer goats for the meat market, a market that has grown a lot since I was involved with goats some 30 years ago. To those who like goat meat, the Boer goat is like Angus cattle to the steak lover.
Tim and I stood around his corral, admiring the goats one unusually calm fall afternoon. Several hundred kids came over, put their hooves up on a rail to get a good look at who I was and what I might be doing there. When they correctly deduced I was not bearing food, they went back to a heap rounded off 4- by 8-foot sudex bales Tim had placed in the corral for free choice munching. Small bands of nannies wandered in and out to pasture as the lazy fall sun cast a glow over the countryside.
I mentioned to Tim that when I had a pretty good-sized goat herd, I’d feed left over pumpkins from Halloween.
“Goats love pumpkins,” Tim said. “They go nuts over ’em.” He then started to laugh.
When his mirth finally subsided, he told me about a time he’d hauled several dump trucks full of pumpkins to his goats. “And let me tell ya’, those goats fought over those pumpkins. I think they would kill each other over pumpkins, so I had to kinda watch ’em.”
That’s when one of his young nannies, whose horns were smooth, sharp, and about 6 inches long, started getting frisky with the other goats to get an extra dividend of the tasty orange flesh. She hooked and butted her fellow goats with greedy intent, going for the middle of the pumpkin pile with such energy that she speared a pumpkin with one of her horns, and on the backstroke, speared another with her other.
“Now,” Tim chuckled, “she finally slowed down. She stepped back from the bunch, wondering what the heck was going on with her head. She tried to shake ’em off, but she musta had these two pumpkins speared just right so that the more she shook, the tighter they stuck. You could just see a change in her gait from a greedy goat to a humble goat with no idea what was going on. She looked sorta like one of those goofy Mickey Mouse Musketeers, only with orange globes for ears.”
When Tim tried to help her get the orbs off her horns, the goat would have none of it, so he left to her own medicine.
“It did that goat some good to carry those pumpkins around all day. You know how she finally shucked ’em?”
I was too amused to do more than nod my head in both directions.
“She had to stand there while the other goats ate ’em off her horns!”
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