Tag Archives: goats

Playing With Words Leads To Book

English has thousands of words from many languages. Other languages can have plays on words, but they can’t rival English for playing with words.

Standing in the cold watching the does eat during milking as most of them are dry is boring. Playing with words occupies the mind and lets the goats get away with little tricks which they don’t mind.

goat wether
Every goat person knows about bucks, does and kids. They should know about wethers too. I’ve used wethers for harness and meat. They make good goat pets. They don’t look or act like a buck, yet are more masculine than a doe.

Dandy wether debates whether or not a wether should go out in rainy weather.

Homonyms are fun. English has lots of them.

Alpines align alertly.

playing with words begins with A for Alpine
A has so many words to use for alliteration on the topic of Alpines. Gem shows many Alpine characteristics to help with the illustration.

Alliteration and tongue twisters are old favorites. The challenge was to come up with one for each letter of the alphabet.

Some were easy. C is for caprine. D is for doe. G is for goat. T is for Toggenberg.

Others were real challenges. Yet something worked for all the letters except one. No, it’s not Z or Q or J. I am missing R.

Now goats are ruminants and do have rumens, but these don’t seem to lend themselves to anything light-hearted using alliteration or homonyms or even tongue twisters. Perhaps there is some other topic? I need some ideas.

Oberhasli does are for O with ornery and obedient
O is for Oberhasli with some obedient manners masking some ornery intentions.

Playing with words gave me 26 pages doubled when illustrations are added. This seemed awfully short so I added some flash fiction about a kid.

The illustrations are another challenge. I’m working on the sketches. It’s tempting to make them rich, elaborate affairs. I’m not that good.

Tongue twisters and alliterative passages are simple word plays. The illustrations should match. They will be ink brush stroke done mostly in black ink but some color. After all, goats are in color.

goat kids get into all kinds of mischief giving fodder for playing with words
Goat kids figure in many of the letters including I, K and Z. And two kids are the subject of a series of ten flash fiction pieces. This may be because kids are so cute, curious and ornery.

I still think of this little book as The Goat Alphabet Book, but it doesn’t really fit anymore. Buried somewhere in this little book is a title. I haven’t found it yet.

And to think that this all started because English has so many words with so many beautiful sounds and playing with words can be such fun.

Ending the Year

Beginning and ending the year happens on an arbitrary date. The agreed upon date is fast approaching. For me this is a time to reflect on the year past, its hopes, its accomplishments, its disappointments, its gains and losses.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Precious Jewel lived a long life here. Old age caught up with her. Some of her daughters are still in the herd.

As a writer I am ending the year disappointed. Only Capri Capers came out this year. My plans called for the third in the Hazel Whitmore series tentatively called Mistaken Promises. A picture book called Waiting For Fairies was on that hoped for list too. Discouraging as they sometimes become, the botany project pages are finally taking shape from the hundreds of pictures I took this past growing season.

Clyde ending the year loss

Clyde arrived one day and adopted me. He was one of my wheelbarrow cats leaping in to ride whenever I had one out.

As a goatkeeper ending the year has its hellos and good-byes. I lost four old friends this year. Jewel and Silk were old and in poor health. Josephine and Bonnie got sick and I could not help them survive. But Rose is doing fine and growing fast.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Bubbles Silk was a big Nubian doe. She lived here a long time and left me with a junior herd sire, a daughter and granddaughter.

It’s so strange how a little goat seems to stay the same size for months. Suddenly the eyes look again and this has been an illusion. That little goat has gotten big even though it was not noticed.

Pretty Boy ending the year loss

My mother’s two cats came to live with me. Pretty Girl left me last year. Pretty Boy enjoyed being outside. He never stopped missing my mother.

Three cats left as well. My mother’s Pretty Boy is gone. Cat, Grey Cat and Clyde followed him. There are now six cats living here.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

Worms are a curse in the Ozarks. Poor High Reaches Josephine was fine one day and too anemic to save the next. She was an excellent milker and sorely missed.

My pantry has lots of potatoes and butternut squash in it. The freezer has enough chopped peppers to supply every meal for months. Tomato sauce is ready for spaghetti and pizza. The garden did well even though I never feel it has. The weeds seem to get the upper hand by the end of the season and leave me discouraged.

Grey Cat ending the year loss

I don’t know where Grey Cat came from. She arrived one day and decided to stay. She wanted only a place to live and food to eat. In all the years she lived here, she would never allow me to touch her. She let me civilize her kittens one of whom is still living with me.

However, fresh spinach beckons from the raised bed. The first Brussels sprouts are ready to pick in my temporary greenhouse. I have learned new things about them and hope to have better crops from them next year.

Nubian doe ending the year loss

High Reaches Bonnie came down with pneumonia as cold winter weather moved in. She was a favorite goat always glad to see me.

Did the year live up to the dreams and hopes I had? No. But the year was still a good one. I hope your year was a good one too.

Goats Love Eating Acorns

Acorns can kill a cow if it eats too many. Goats can gorge on them like deer can.

This has been a great year for fruits and that includes acorns. The ground in the woods is covered with them.

Turkeys eat lots of these little oak fruits but seem to prefer grass seed much of the time lately. The flocks have been working their ways around the pastures every day. They don’t seem to know turkey season is in full swing even though no one around here seems to care.

acorns on the forest floor

Walking in the Ozark woods is not silent lately. All around is the plop of acorns hitting the ground. Places are scraped clean where turkeys have been feasting. Other places I see a path several feet wide of scuffed leaves and know the goats were by inhaling every acorn they found.

Deer are eating their share up in the woods. The goats act like vacuum cleaners as they shuffle their way across the hills.

Acorns can make a goat sick. I’ve had several come in with upset stomachs. The biggest problem is when they stop chewing their cuds. This can be deadly.

Violet went out with the herd one day. The kids stayed in but not without protest.

That night Violet came in for grain but picked. Her sides stuck out more than usual.

The next morning Violet laid around. She was alert but definitely did not feel good.

Usually a goat lying down and not asleep will chew her cud. Violet was not chewing a cud. She was uncomfortable. Her ears were at an odd angle.

A bloated goat is a problem. I usually start with oil to help whatever is causing the problem to move on through.

Violet was slightly bloated but her big problem was not chewing a cud. This calls for something different.

I gave her a dose of Probios. Other times I’ve used yogurt or kefir. One time, in desperation I stole a cud from another goat.

Nubian doe High Reaches Violet and her kids

Today High Reaches Violet is out eating acorns again. Yesterday she laid around her kids wondering why she wasn’t out watching them play. Too many acorns leave an upset rumen and no cud behind. This can kill but a bacteria culture soon sets things right again.

Stealing a cud takes timing and caution. First you find a victim – goat – relaxing and chewing cud.

You watch until a new cud comes up and pounce. Prying the mouth open and extracting the cud can be dangerous to fingers.

The stolen cud is then forced into the sick goat’s mouth. And it must be forced as this thing stinks and is not at all palatable in the goat’s opinion.

In Violet’s case the powdered stuff worked fine over the course of the day. By the next day she was off to hunt acorns once again.

Blind Kid

Several years ago a kid was born or became blind just after birth. Louie’s corneas were damaged and white. Otherwise Louie was a normal bottle baby.

A little doe was born blind a couple of weeks ago. She may be deaf in one ear as well but it’s hard to tell. Like so many kids, goats and human, she has selective hearing.

Raising Louie should help with raising this little doeling or so I thought. She was put on a bottle with the assumption she couldn’t find her mother or compete with her sister. After all, her sister is normal, not blind.

blind doeling nursing

Bottles were fine since they came filled with milk. Then the little blind doeling learned to nurse. This was much better, milk on demand instead of on a schedule.

The little doeling disagrees. She now nurses her mother. A bottle will do for snacking only.

Louie was raised by himself in the house. That was a problem later on as he had trouble bonding with the goats. So I left the little doeling in with her mother and sister.

Juliette answers the little doeling’s calls. She provides a safe haven and point of reference for the blind doeling.

blind doeling

Goats are ruminants and need bacteria to break down their food. Kids get some of it by eating dirt. But the blind doeling smells the ground as she finds her way around in the barn lot. After a few days she seems to know where most objects are.

Louie never played as a kid. He learned to play with Gaius when he was older. The two were almost the same age.

Every evening I bring Juliette and the two kids into the kid pen for the night. Blind or not, the kids race around bucking and bouncing. The little doeling knows where the walls and wire are. She explores everything. She walks out through the cattle panel side to explore the rest of the barn then walks through back in when she is ready.

Out in the barn the doeling explores everywhere and everything. She knows where the goat gym is and can get on the bench at the end. She knows the barn end of the barn lot and plays in various corners then naps in the sun.

blind doeling looking in water bucket

The little blind doeling went exploring and found a bucket of water. At two weeks old the doeling finds water is something to sample.

Like Louie the doeling gets lost easily. The does were going out a gate by the barn usually closed to graze in the small pasture. The doeling followed them out then found she was someplace new.

Louie got his name because of his big voice. When he got lost, he would call until someone went out to show him where the other goats were. His voice was easily heard even from the north and south pastures.

Big voices seem to go with Nubians. The little doeling is finding hers. She called. She got rescued. The gate is again closed.

No, it doesn’t make much sense for me to keep this blind doeling. She will probably need special care all her life. Yet being blind isn’t stopping her.

The doeling is finding her way around even playing with the other kids. She played queen of the mountain on a bale of straw with her sister. Yes, she was up on the bale of straw.

The doeling, blind or not, thinks life is worth working on. I think I will give her a chance.