Sunday, August 19, 2012

Out with the Goats

Here are the goats on their way home from eating out in the neighbor's places.  They are quite full and going rather slowly. ☺ There is a ton of food this year for them everywhere but on our property.  They have eaten that all down already.  Luckily all the neighbors want them to eat their weeds and tall grass to keep the fire hazard down.  In this lower picture they have found a big thistle patch and keep going back to it each day we go down there.

  It only takes them about 2 hours to eat their fill and want to go back home for water and to digest it all.  I take them out almost every day unless I have a project that really needs to get done, or I don't get home in time from town to take them out.  Saves on hay, and it's quite pleasant to take my folding lawn chair and follow them around the forest for a couple of hours.  A good way to connect with Mother Nature and contemplate life.  I started out fretting about all that I wasn't getting done in those couple of hours out with them, but then I decided that it was a good break, it saved on hay, and I felt better when I got back, so it was worth losing a couple of hours of work time to feed the goats for free.
  There sure has been an active bear in the area!  Everywhere we go, there are shredded logs, stumps and over-turned rocks.  So far I haven't seen a bear when we've gone out, but there sure has been a lot of signs that one is around.  The goats sound like a herd of elephants crashing through the brush, so that probably scares everything away long before I can see anything.  A couple of times the goats have been rather nervous and stay in the open meadow areas and stick pretty close together, so I know they sense something is there. Nellie, the LGD goes out with us, too, so she keeps an eye out for anything.
  I have come to the conclusion that trying to stick to a set schedule around here is just a lesson in futility.    Something always happens to change things.  Either a goat has an issue, someone comes or calls, or I have some kind of issue that I wasn't expecting.  So to keep stress at an acceptable level, I've decided to just do as much as I can in a day and not get too worried about what didn't get done.  There is always tomorrow....and if not, oh well. 
   Now that the weather is hot and dry, things are starting to turn a bit brown.  The yard is mostly brown, except for the gardens that I keep watered.  The deer got in the veggie garden and severely trimmed and ate my winter's food supply.  It ate every single broccoli plant, a lot of the peas, beans, carrots, and spinach.  Luckily I hadn't weeded the strawberries so the grass was thick and tall and hid the berries, or they would've been eaten too.  Dang beast!  Why she had to come in here when there is so much food out in the woods,  10,000 acres worth to eat, is beyond me.  I think a mountain lion got her two nights ago.  I heard a deer scream (which sounds an awful lot like a goat!) in the wee hours of the morning, the dogs all went ballistic, and I haven't seen her since.  I jumped up and went outside to make sure it wasn't one of the goats, but they were all just laying around not concerned at all, and the scream was a bit farther out in the neighbor's place anyway.   Hopefully it was her and then she won't be back.  She had a fawn this year, so I wonder if that got eaten, too.  I know this sounds rather mean, but she needed to get eaten so she'd stay away from here.  She was way too familiar with the place, thought she owned it.  She even has the dogs afraid of her.  Her mom, who I called Grandma, went after the dogs a couple of times, so they learned that when she stomped her foot and tipped her head, they had better look out.  She taught her kids that, too.  She got eaten last Spring by a lion, and now I think her remaining daughter got it the other night.  There are more to replace her, but they are more afraid and won't come in the yard.  It's nice to have the lions keeping everything in check out there.  As long as there are deer around, I don't have to worry about the goats getting attacked.  
  To be safe, I don't take the goats out till afternoon and then I make sure they are back in the pens a couple of hours before sunset when the predators are taking their afternoon naps and not looking for food.  It's worked good so far, knock on wood.
 Well, that's all for now.... Here we are, back on our property heading for the water troughs. 

   Here's a cow elk on the forest service road, down from our place a couple of miles.  The rest of the herd is in the woods already.  There is a small herd roaming the area around us.  Beautiful animals!