Friday evening Rob came over. We had made plans previously to fix the collar issues I was having with the goats.
It all came down to this. They weren’t working.
When we first fitted Honey and Harriet with their collars we had to make modifications. Goat necks are not the same as dog necks. Dogs have relatively round necks while a goat’s is much more oval in shape. This meant that a) the collars were too big and had to be twisted on themselves to take up the slack and b) the electrodes did not make sufficient contact to administer the appropriate “correction.”
With the huglekultur beds finished and spring rapidly on the wane we are ready to plant. Our only hold up being the necessity of keeping hungry goats at bay.
Rob showed up around six and we promptly commenced the manly ritual of a pre-getting-down-to-business beer. Once properly fortified with a Guinness (for strength) we gathered our tools and set to work.
The tools in this instance being new collars, fresh batteries for the collars, hoof trimming shears and my newly acquired shepherd’s crook. I bought the crook from Tractor Supply Company a few weeks ago thinking it would be handy in wrangling the goats. In truth I did snag Harriet at one point but she quickly twisted free. For the most part the crook was a hindrance. A long cane with a hook on one end is not the ideal tool to be carrying through thickets. It tends to slow you up.
I should remind you that the goats are not overly fond of me. My windows of opportunity are far too short to set aside any quality time with the goats and so my time with them is largely practical. I’m the big hairy ape that chases them into corners, grabs them by the horns and subjects them to such horrors as hoof trimming and battery replacement on their collars.
Everyone else who goes into the back either leaves them alone or just brings treats. I’m such a bastard.
Were it not for Rob I’d probably still be chasing them.
Using sweet feed for bait we first nabbed Honey (she’s the easy catch only having three legs.) I trimmed her hooves while Robe re-outfitted her with a new collar. This new design has the electrodes spaced wider so that they make better contact and will administer the “correction” in such a manner the she will actually notice it. It’s also smaller, so it’s a better fit and has a vinyl outer covering, co it will last longer.
We then spent close to an hour chasing Harriet all around the Back Forty. Through brush and bramble, from one near nab to the next, this wily ruminant made fools of us. All the while I could hear Grandpa laughing, “Get that goat, boy!”
I have this ongoing debate with myself over just how smart goats in general, and these two goats in particular, really are. Having lived with and around animals all my life I have no doubt to their own brand of intelligence. I have seen pigeons, either smart enough or too lazy to fly a block, drop down from the 22nd Street viaduct and ride the train down to 21st street and then fly up into the rafters. I’ve seen my cats willingly and purposefully taunt my dog.
But these goats, they’re something else. Once caught they bleat and cry and wail, but stick their food bowl in front of them and all seems forgotten. They’ll run through the brush knowing I’m slowed in my ability to follow only to circle back around to the feed bowl where they’re more likely to be caught. Intelligent or not, Harriet made fools of Rob and I for almost an hour.
Finally, Rob caught her and we were able to change out her collar and trim her hooves. To hear her carry on you’d think we were trying to eat her on the spot. Again once we set the food bowl in front of her nose, she shut up and started eating again.
I’m not totally in love with the hoof trimming shears I bought. They were one of two styles TSC offered and appeared to be the sturdier of the two. They do the job but they’re not as sharp as I’d like and require a good bit of hand strength. The first time I trimmed their hooves I used a pair of Chinese kitchen shears. They’re easy to sharpen and performed beautifully. They’re cheap enough at the Asian market that I might just buy a pair and dedicate them to this use.
After our labors Rob and I celebrated with another well earned beer. Samantha was about to grill burgers and the weekend was about to commence. A good time was had by all, even the goats now that we were done abusing them, and we’re one step closer to planting.