Friday, September 17, 2010

Sue Weaver: Goat Lover’s Diary, Part 2

Bon Bon smiles.

These entries are excerpts from a journal I kept in early 2008, intending to use excerpts in my upcoming Storey book, Backyard Goat. Somehow the journal fell by the wayside, only to resurface last month. Some of the entries make me smile, so I’m sharing this three-part series with you.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008
It's supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow, so we're off to pick up our new dairy goat from Emily Dixon at Ozark Jewels. But it won't be Flora (the Nubian-Saanen) after all. The lady who bought her sister Fauna adores Fauna and asked Emily to talk me out of taking Flora so she can have Flora as well. I felt badly about separating 5-year-old twins, so I’m secretly relieved she wants them both. Instead, we're getting a registered Nubian named Bon Bon.

We're also getting Big Mama and her suckling wether (we're naming him Tank). Emily wanted to find her a retirement home, and I’ve loved Big Mama since the first time I laid eyes on her. Big Mama is a goat of distinction. She's a huge white Saanen-Boer mix with flowing pantaloons and a luxurious beard. I can hardly wait!

Three-month-old Tank grooms his foot.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Bon Bon is gorgeous! I'm in love with her already. She, Big Mama, and Big Mama's kid, Tank (and he is a tank!) are getting to know Latifah and Tumnus. I hoped Latifah and Big Mama were old friends and would be thrilled to see one another again — not so. Instead, they are royally tickled and bashing their hornless, bony heads together with a vengeance while Bon Bon and the two goatlings watch in awe.

Bon Bon

Sunday, 16 March 2008
Last night about 3:30 a.m., I awakened to hear a goat screaming as though it were being slaughtered. I leapt out of bed, ripped on my robe, and raced outside.

The racket was coming from the dairy goats' shelter. From the strident pitch of the voice, I knew it was either Latifah or Bon Bon (Ezri the Boer screams like that, too, but she’s housed in a different area).

I raced to the shelter. Bon Bon was planted just inside the gate screaming at the top of her lungs.

"What! What!" I cried. She stopped screaming in midwail and smiled at me. Big Mama and Tank were asleep in one part of the shelter, Latifah and Tumnus in another. I pushed open the gate, went in, looked her over, and checked her for bloat, and she seemed perfectly okay. So I sat down and waited, and she continued smiling, standing by me.

After maybe 15 minutes I went back to bed. She didn't scream another word until morning (when she announced she was ready to be milked).

Apparently, she simply wanted companionship.

Scared the bejeebers out of me!

Sunday, 16 March 2008
On Friday we decided we had better band Tank. He's a big boy and needs to be castrated before he gets to mingle with the Boer girls (I usually let both groups of goats out together during the day).

So John got the elastrator, and I sat Tank on my lap while he screamed, "No! No! No! Not THAT!"

He knew what he was screaming about — he already had a band on his scrotum. I guess I should've looked first or asked Emily about it when we got him.

Tank grows up.

Sunday, 23 March 2008
Tank surprised me last night by weaning himself. When I put the herd in, he stayed with Latifah and Bon Bon and came with them up to their shelter. He and Big Mama are behaving as if this is the way all baby goats get weaned — no crying, no calling. I wish it was always this easy!

On the other hand, I put Tumnus out with the main group of Boers because he has horns and has been chasing Bon Bon away from Latifah. I thought Latifah would be crushed at his loss. Until now the moment Tumnus ventured away from her, she's shrieked until he came right back. Not a squeak out of her tonight — go figure! Tumnus isn’t amused by this turn of events, but he'll cope. He's spent time with the Boers every day since he was a little guy, so it's not as though he’s bunking with strangers.

Saturday, 29 March 2008
I was hard at work today when I heard a strange, strident baby cry. Since it’s raining, I had Uzzi and Martok in the house, so it had to be Tank. I paused for a moment, then Big Mama started screaming from her pen closer to the road. "Oh, no," I thought to myself, "Tank must be caught in something; even his mom hears his screams!"

I ripped on my boots and raced out into the pouring rain. When I reached the dairy goat shelter, Tank and Bon Bon were standing side by side at the gate with big smiles on their faces. Apparently, Bon Bon told him, "If you yell loud enough, she'll come out!" And sure enough, I did.

P.S. I've decided that if Latifah is my elegant eccentric, Bon Bon is my lovable doofus. She does the strangest things — but I love her!

Sunday, 30 March 2008
That Bon Bon. She begins screaming about 7:15 a.m. (I milk at 8 a.m.) This morning she stopped for a while, and Tank started in. Somehow I know he is her apprentice!

When I show up with my milk pail in hand, she informs me that, "Emily milked at a proper hour, not halfway through the morning!" When I point out that I also milk at 7:00 p.m., so it really wouldn't do to milk at 4:00 in the morning, she simply humphs and springs up on the milking stand.

She is one silly goat.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008
I have Empty Nest Syndrome. Uzzi outgrew the “wolf-size” dog crate and moved out with the dairy girls on Saturday night. I moved Martok into the bigger crate, but he cried mournfully through the night, so I moved him out so he could be with his “brother.”

Bon Bon is being the Good Mom, keeping them under her wing. I set up an old airline crate for the boys to sleep in, but Bon Bon dropped to her knees, crawled in, turned around, and smiled at me, so I guess that one is hers. Fortunately, we also have a mid-size crate that's big enough for both boys if they cuddle. Both had been slept in this morning, so I assume everybody had his or her own little cave (Latifah sleeps in the covered Goat Tote, and heaven help anyone else — except maybe Big Mama — who goes in there).

Tank moved back with his mom now that he's weaned. He plays with Uzzi and Martok through the day, but since they're a pair and he’s the outsider, I think he feels more comfortable with Mama.

Big Mama says, "Mmm, thistles!"

Big Mama is quite a character. She's one of my favorites already. I love the way she lifts her chin, stares me right in the eye, and says, "What have you got in your pockets?"

How do people exist without goats?

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including The Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, The Appaloosa News, The Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and The Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and Get Your Goat! to be published in 2010. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

Visit my Dreamgoat Annie Web and The Mopple Chronicles

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