I saw a T-shirt on Pinterest with the slogan, ‘I was normal three goats ago’. I have never seen anything so apt for myself. It is no secret I shamelessly love my goats. My hubby begs me not tell people that. He reckons it makes me look loopy; too bad, it is far too late to save my reputation, everyone has already formed that opinion of me.
This love didn’t happen straight away. Goats are just goats, right? A herd animal that hangs out in the paddock. My son describes them as meat walking on legs. I tried to think of them that way until after we picked up our first 20 pregnant goats. I then observed how intelligent, social and trusting they were and how each had such a distinct personality. I found myself secretly naming some of them. Black Betty was bossy and brash, Woolly because of her long coat, Cleopatra walked like an Egyptian, Muriel...well she looked like a Muriel!
I was told from the beginning not to name my herd goats, certainly not the males, who on anyone else’s property would have a short destiny. A name forms an attachment. Well, I am sorry, it doesn’t matter if my horned ones have a name or a herd number I still become emotionally connected with them. They all have their unique personalities which I know like the back of my hand.
Traits are passed on to their kids, I will be doing husbandry on a goat and comment to him or her (yes I talk to my goats too) how their hooves or personality is just like their mum’s or even their grandmother’s. My hubby looks at me strangely asking how I could possibly know who their mother is from our large herd. I look oddly back at him and state ‘how could I not know!’, then reel off mum’s herd number. Sure enough when he checks the back of the ear tag for their mother’s number I am always correct.
The true passion for my goats began with the fist kidding on our property when I hand raised three kids. I was now to discover not only could a goat be intelligent, trusting, packed with personality, curious, at times infuriating and strong willed but also how loving they can be.
Coffee, Victor and Rose were all born the same day. Coffee and Victor’s mother birthed quads. She had decided she could not raise four babies so she was tossing the smallest two through the air trying to kill them.
The gentleman we bought the does from had advised me not to interfere with the whole kidding process. I watched doe '# 3' trying to rid herself of these two and thought "Surely he doesn’t mean for me to simply allow her to kill them?" Coffee was the runt but oh so determined. Each time he was tossed away he went back to her trying to get milk. So I marched in there and rescued them. Stuff not interfering!
Another doe had also given birth to two kids not far from this scene of potential murder. I observed she was not bonding with one of the kids. Rose was curled up under a bush, not cleaned up after birth, totally abandoned by her mother. No matter how many times I took her over to her mother the mum would move her other baby away leaving Rose alone.
Rose is sometimes in a world of her own. I believe Rose was mis-mothered because she had a tough birth, lacking oxygen for a short time and did not move straight after being born. A goat mother will perceive this as something seriously wrong with the kid, abandoning it for the stronger of her babies.
I rang my husband to tell him we had three new additions to the family. The old cubby house in our suburban backyard had a temporary fence erected around it and saw renewed life as their weekday manor house.
Then eight weeks later Otis joined the lucky ones.
Yes I was normal three goats (+1) ago.