Wednesday, February 10, 2010 1:44 PM

Goats Feeling Their Oats

Occasionally, Miss P. asks J. and I to feed and lock up her "goaties" in the late afternoon. Usually, this request is due to her having to work late or the weather being very cold and windy. This duty involves changing buckets of water, putting new sleeves of hay inside the barn in the goatie feeders, and closing all doors for the night. The whole affair doesn't take long, as long as our pals are in a cooperative mood, which they usually are. Yesterday, however, something new happened. Those goaties just didn't want to go to bed.

As usual, the goats were friendly and looking for attention. We've performed this chore many times, and we and the goats know each other well. Badger, the large male, came over immediately for head rubs and cheek scratching. Sylvie, his low-rider sister, ran into the shed and jumped onto her "feeding box", getting ready for fresh hay. The two "brown goaties", Pepper and Peaches, seemed a little nervous, but still came to us for petting. These two sisters are a bit aggressive, not to us, but to each other and especially Sylvie, who is shy. Usually Sylvie's big brother Badger protects her, but, despite his size, these brown girls don't often back down. So, when they act up, everybody goes crazy.

J. put the hay in, changed the water, and counted chickens. All four goats were inside, but just as he was closing the door, Peaches jumped out. He shut the door, figuring she'd go back in with a little bribery (in the form of grain); she was having none of it, however. She wouldn't approach the door, and Pepper and she kept mumbling to each other through the closed shed door. We know that these guys have personalities, more than you would expect of livestock, and we really saw this in action then. Peaches was acting more like a dog, cocking her head and vocalizing. She kept trotting from one closed door to the other, crouching a little, with her ears raising up and lowering again. It was pretty entertaining, actually.

Finally, we decided to leave Miss P. a note and let them all out again. We made another attempt, but no go. Everybody was running around outside now, enjoying this new game. I thought we'd go home, feed our starving cats, and come back again, armed with carrot bits. Before we could leave the house again, Miss P. called to say she had gotten them all in. She thought something must have traveled through the yard that afternoon, spooking them. As I told her, we figured they just wanted Mom to put them to bed!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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