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.

Feeding Creek Fish

Creek fish survive somehow in the creek. The water sinks into the copious amounts of gravel during dry times leaving isolated pools. Recent rains have started the creek flowing again.

Last spring’s floods dug out one bank around one bridge pillar. It will take many very large rocks to fill the hole and encourage a flooded creek to go under the bridge instead of around it.

In the meantime a pool surrounds the pillar. Creek fist are crowded into this pool. Some of the bleeding shiners are six inches long. All of the fish are hungry.

Minnows usually scavenge insects and insect larvae for food. Being cold blooded, they don’t need a lot of food. Lucky for them. Still, they do like to eat.

creek fish

Minnows abound in this creek pool that extends under the bridge. Most are bleeding shiners. They stay down in the water. Broad head minnows stay at the surface. All of the fish find ticks delicious.

This is where the goats come into the picture. They crisscross the pastures and hills devouring whatever seems good that particular day. As they walk by, ticks leap on. In August these are mostly seed ticks (newly hatched) and the first instar ticks (seed ticks after one feeding).

I check my goats for ticks every day. Looking for these small ticks is a waste of time until they have gorged themselves. That is in the mornings.

The goats gladly follow me out the pasture gate and onto the makeshift bridge. I stop. they mill around.

goats waiting to feed creek fish

The pastures are overgrown. Downed trees and left over branches made bush hogging a task for next year. The smaller herd seems to have trouble deciding on where to go. There is no one lead goat, one of those under rated, but very important herd members. This is great for the fish. The goats stand around while I pull ticks. The goats like the attention and vie for more.

In spite of being checked for ticks during milking, the goats still have ticks on them. I pull these off and drop them into the pool. The creek fish go crazy as each tries to get as many of these delectable morsels as possible.

The goats are not impressed. They get impatient and begin shoving. Each goat’s ears and nose have been gone over. So the goats now follow me down the overgrown tractor road toward the south pasture. Soon they pass me by.

I turn back collecting a few fallen sycamore leaves to feed the bucks when I let them out for the day. The creek fish are still hungry, but will wait until the next morning for more ticks.

Enduring Ozark Summer Heat

Missouri Ozark weather is usually changeable. Lately the changes have been slow in coming. Summer heat has been sitting here for a couple of weeks.

Temperature is only part of the story in the Ozarks. The other part is the humidity.

Our bodies sweat. It evaporates. Our bodies cool down. Humidity slows or stops the evaporation so we stay hot and feel hotter than the temperature warrants. Lately humidity levels have rivaled the temperature.

cat sleeps through summer heat

My cat Cloudy sprawls out on the grass next to the sidewalk occupied by my cat Burton. both await my appearance to serve dinner. They look so comfortable. They make it tempting to join them.

Cats don’t sweat. When summer heat settles in, they find a shady spot and sprawl out. Favorite haunts are often in front of doorways. Open the door. Find splat cat lying a step outside.

Chickens move into the shade. My flock has lost its favorite haunts as a pair of gray foxes has moved into the area. The chickens now hang out around the goat barn.

summer heat makes chickens pant

Chickens try to slick down their feathers. Then they start panting. These three are in a shady corner of their yard. A family of gray foxes has moved to the area so the chickens stay on full alert through the heat.

Horseflies and deerflies influence the goats. These insects have vicious bites. The goats come in with big, raised welts oozing moisture. The flies like sun and moist areas.

The goats go up on the hills and tuck themselves into deep shade under the oaks. Unfortunately the best browse is down in lower areas.

My herd is smaller now, only seventeen goats. They pack themselves into as small an area as possible. Each goat hopes the flies visit the neighboring goat or can be rubbed off onto the next goat.

Nubian goats in summer heat

Goats pant when they get hot. The herd loafs in shady areas most of the afternoon. My herd goes up over the hills and down the ravine during the day, between layovers in deeper shade. Once the air starts cooling, the herd comes out into the pasture to graze.

Toward midsummer the horseflies move up close to the goat barn. The goats don’t appreciate this. The chickens do.

Savvy chickens stalk the goats watching for flies to land. Snack time.

Summer heat is making work difficult. It’s too hot for me to work outside, even in the shade by noon. My barn is almost cleaned out. I keep trying to take out a few loads of manure each day.

Noon means coming in to change shirts as the morning shirt is sopping wet. There is a rumor this summer heat will break for a few days by the end of the week. All of us need the break.

Enjoying Warm Spring Days

I love warm spring days. They are made for being outside.

That means cleaning out the goat barn. The warm sun is enjoyed on trips to the manure pile.

The next item on the list is clearing more garden paths. The dead nettle and chickweed are dying and seeding. It’s time to pull these and mulch the pathways to keep the weeds from taking over this summer.

Nubian doe High Reaches Topaz Willa

High Reaches Topaz Willa is getting old. She went to sleep. When she woke, she was alone. She came to the barn to find someone and found me.

This day I am rescued from the garden by a goat. It seems Willa has gotten separated from the herd. She came to the barn lot seeking help finding the herd.

The first warm spring days are special. Only dogged determination and the terrible mess keep me working in the goat barn.

A goat in trouble takes precedent. I empty the load of manure and go to the house to change into hiking boots. Grabbing my camera and walking stick, I am ready to take Willa back out to pasture.

goats reappear

I am amazed by how easily a herd of goats can disappear and reappear. Willa went to sleep and the herd disappeared. We passed this spot going to the ravine and no one was here. Now the herd stands here wondering what we are up to.

The herd had disappeared up a hill that morning. Two ways down are favored by around early afternoon. Lately the herd was taking the long route down into the ravine.

Willa and I go to the ravine. No herd. Willa is happy to have company and starts grazing.

Camera in hand I go down to visit several tagged trees. Last summer I identified these trees, tagged them and have taken pictures of their bark, buds and winter looks. Now these are ready to bloom.

goats like warm spring days

My Nubian goats are enjoying the spring weather. They race around gorging on seeding grasses and budding brush, then lie down in the shade to chew their cuds.

Two are in bloom and I take pictures. This is when my walking stick comes in handy. It has a hook on the end for pulling down branches as I have yet to learn to levitate and don’t climb trees.

Willa comes looking for me. We resume our search heading down the hill pasture toward the creek.

The herd has materialized by the creek. Willa is reunited with them and her kid.

I check out another tree. The shingle oak is in bloom.

greening hills on warm spring days

Overnight the trees have greened. The grass is lush. The breeze is warm and light. The clouds sail overhead billowing into shapes and morphing into new ones. Quiet surrounds you, fills you, heals you. This is my Ozarks in spring.

Turning to look back at the hills, a warm breeze ruffles my hair. The smell of dogwoods adds a little perfume. The trees are leafing out turning the hills light green. The goats are relaxing in the shade.

I turn back toward the garden. I walk past it and off onto another hill, up another ravine in search of lady slippers.

Warm spring days are too precious to spend working all day.

Watch for the new book “My Ozark Home” due out later this year. For now, check out Exploring the Ozark Hills.

New Kids Coming

This year’s new kids are due any day. Which day is never certain anymore as Augustus is a master of escape. Maybe I should change his name to Houdini.

Usually the arrival of new kids is anticipated enthusiastically. This year is different. I know I can keep none of the kids, no matter how cute or endearing or special.

Someone else will have those special kids. I get to see them for three months, then say good-bye.

Nubian High Reaches Matilda expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Matilda’s kids have settled. Still she is playing the ‘any day’ game making everyone wait to see her kids.

My herd is as big as I can care for now. It’s easier to sell the kids I’ve known for only a short while than does I’ve known for years. The kids will all leave.

Since only Augustus was in on when several of my does were bred, I am left watching and waiting. The does know this and do their best to look like today’s the day for weeks.

Matilda and Agate look like they will be first. Matilda’s kids have settled. She has sunk around her tail bone. Her udder is taking its time filling up.

Agate has discharge from time to time. She has a nice udder.

Nubian High Reaches Violet expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Violet is starting to waddle, but is not concerned. Her kids will arrive sometime in March.

Then there is Violet. Her udder is starting to fill out. Her kids haven’t settled yet. Her history is getting both done overnight.

In the meantime, I’ve put the barn in order. There is a large area for the new mothers and their new kids.

Pens are better, but are more difficult to set up. Two of my panels are in use and unavailable. A third could be used, if I have to. That leaves me two.

Agate expecting new kids

Nubian High Reaches Agate is getting ready to kid.

The two can become one pen or the front of a kidding area. The area was picked.

March is a waiting game now. I’m watching Matilda and Agate. However, Violet, Pixie, Lydia and Rose are getting ready too.

New kids are fun. Will they be does or bucks? Will they have spots? Will there be triplets? All of us are waiting to find out.

Helpful Curious Kids

Anyone familiar with goats knows both adults and kids are playful and curious. They get into everything they possibly can.

Curious kids are especially prone to leaving havoc behind them. Their small size makes turning things over to check out the inside mandatory.

This winter I have three kids and a half grown doe. The four form a formidable gang.

two curious kids

Two of my curious kids stand plotting their next move. One stunt they haven’t managed yet is to turn over a bucket of oats only because the bucket is out of reach.

The youngest was a very late kid, born November 1. She will be up for sale next month.

The next twins are from late last spring. These two are saboteurs. When I first went to advertise these spotted beauties for sale, one promptly broke a front leg.

The leg healed nicely. So I tried again to advertise the pair. They promptly came down with a virus and happily spread it to the entire herd.

The herd is now well. The kids are fine. I should again advertise these kids for sale, but am hesitant. What disaster will they cook up next?

Agate is my half grown herd addition. She is very spoiled. At almost a year old, she still gets a small bottle of milk morning and evening.

curious kids gang member

High Reaches Spring’s Agate is bigger now and thinks she is one of the big goats. Still, she loves to play and get into things with the other younger kids.

Before the present cold spell, I put the goats out during the day for a few hours. This lets the boys have the run of the barn lot and small pasture. It lets me clean out the barn, make repairs, do whatever is needed.

The herd is not impressed. The pastures have little to offer them. Drought has robbed them of the usual thick grasses. Winter has robbed them of browse.

I wanted to go out walking. The herd wanted someone to follow. I went down to the small gate into the pasture to find curious kids playing with something.

What was it these curious kids were playing with? It didn’t look like a fallen tree branch. They ignore the rocks scattered from when the new electric pole was put in.

The kids made me curious. I went out to take a look.

This was the last week of December. Deer don’t shed antlers until January. Except this year they are early. Still, I never find sheds.

sheds curious kids found

Antlers are very impressive when you hold them. They are heavy. The tines are sharp. The tines feel smooth. The base area is rough.

Thanks to those curious kids and a very large buck deer I’ve never seen, I now have a lovely matched set of ten point antlers.

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.