Through the Fence 7-5-10
Goats are like busy toddlers that need constant supervision. Regardless of how much land they have access to, they will find some way to hurt themselves. Unlike cows that are content to eat, sleep, ruminate and poop, goats are extremely inquisitive and are constantly on the move. They go to great lengths to explore anything remotely interesting. The guy who said, “Curiosity killed the cat,” obviously never had any goats.
Once I had to chase a woolly Angora goat through the pasture for 20 minutes that had a long piece of baling wire tangled in her hair. On 150 acres, she had found one piece of wire on the ground and managed to get wrapped up in it. Another goat actually hung herself on a short piece of rope hanging from a rafter that was seemingly above her reach. We’ve caught a goofy goat that stuck its heads in feeding a bucket and then had the handle slip over and latch onto its horns. She looked so comical running around the pen with a white plastic bucket on her head. For a moment I was tempted to leave it on there for a while to teach her a lesson. But then I remembered that she was a goat and was probably not willing or even able to learn from consequences. All those goats that habitually got their heads stuck through net wire fences never seemed to remember not to do that. Instead, they would stick it back through the first chance they got, whether there was greener grass on the other side or not.
One summer afternoon, our youngest daughter, Lena, went outside and heard a baby goat squalling. It had climbed up into a syrup tub to get a better view of the pasture or to have better access to the sweet tasting goody inside there, or maybe it was playing “king of the mountain” with the other goat kids. What it didn’t realize was that the hard molasses tub had been setting out in the boiling hot sun all afternoon and had begun to soften. When it stood on top, its furry little legs sunk deep into the viscous mass. Even though Lena was willing to rescue the little guy, she dreaded getting covered in all that sugary, sticky goo. She wrapped one arm around the kid and started pulling the tub with her other. She had to wiggle its body around several minutes in order to squinch the sticky muck away from the goat’s legs. It was a hot messy job made even more unpleasant because of the proximity of the bawling goat’s mouth to her ear. After a while, she grabbed the goat with both hands and put her foot on the edge of the syrup tub to hold it down while she continued to tug.
Finally, the goat was freed, but since it had been stuck out in the hot sun all day, it was really thirsty. It scampered over to the small water trough and hopped right in and starting drinking. Whose ever job it was to fill the trough, had not been very diligent because it was very shallow. After she let it take a few gulps of lukewarm water, Lena dumped the trough, refilled it, and let the thirsty goat get its fill of fresh water. Then she had to wash the syrup off the goat – or at least try to. She was only able to remove part of the mess. The kid’s snowy white fur was dulled to a dingy gray. It also had dark brown splotches of leftover syrup in several places which would be magnets for dirt, pieces of hay and grass burs in the days to come.
Of course, all the other nosy goats had stood around watching this whole spectacle. Either the goats were able to learn from a bad example for once or else none of the others were as curious, adventurous or just plain stupid as that one because that incident has not been repeated … at least, not yet.