Where my GOAT at?

So all those stories that were shared with us…. The stories about Billy Goats, the stories about the goat cologne and the like, shockingly accurate. Several weeks after the birth of the three babies, Friedrich our resident leash walking Billy decided it was time for the ladies to start noticing him again. I guess he assumed his children were old enough for him to move back in with his ladies. The guys around here started telling me stories about Friedrich peeing in their general direction, about him rearing up, about him becoming more aggressive with them in and around the barn. And I thought to myself, Friedrich my sweet little friendly man?

The week of the eclipse came, and as we were all looking and worrying about the effects on the animals, much of which was completely crazy. Friedrich became more and more atypical billy like. The day of the eclipse we had some friends here enjoying the amazing experience, by the way being in the line of totality was not all hype it was unbelievable.

As the eclipse passed, Friedrich decides to come over to the back pool deck and say hello to all our guests, it was at this point that I started noticing, he wasn’t my sweet little boy anymore he was a hormonal billy that wanted to do billy-goat things.

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The very next week Dylan was in the barn mucking stalls and he came running in saying Friedrich won’t leave me alone in the barn, he keeps trying to pee on me, and butt me. My first reaction was to laugh, I thought seriously you are afraid of Friedrich, Jody walked out to the stalls and moved him into the pasture, only Friedrich was making this noise I had never heard from his goat mouth. Dylan said, “That goat is crazy, he was trying to lick me!” Lick you I said. What in the world! The next weekend we had company here visiting, and Friedrich did not disappoint, he chased us girls down in the side pasture, he sang a weird song every time he saw us, and you guessed it attempted to lick us every chance he got! (If you see me in person I can mimic this behavior with pretty amazing accuracy)

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The question came to mind, now what!? What are we going to do with this weird hormonal goat? How about a goat stud service? There has to be a need for this around here, he really makes some beautiful babies.

So that is exactly what we did, I’m not sure it is going to be a new business venture or anything, goat pimping, but right now he is at the neighboring farm helping bring some “kids” into this world.

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He is a happy goat, temporarily apart of a new “lonely goatherd” singing his little “O ho lay dee odl lee o, o ho lay dee old ay O ho lay dee odl lee o, lay dee odl lee o lay.” 

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Meanwhile, here our “kids” are really growing, hopping, rearing, and getting more and more mischievous everyday. They daily interact with each other, the chickens, and us. And if you ever think you are having a bad day, watch little goat’s play it is not possible to watch them interact and not at the very least smile.

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Are You My Mother?

Have you ever read the book, Are You My Mother? It’s about a mother bird who leaves her little egg in the nest, and when she returns the baby had hatched and went out looking for his mother. He asked all kinds of different creatures, Are You My Mother?” What amazes me about that story is how it really isn’t too far from reality.

Here on the farm, we had two births within one day of each other; the first one was Brigitta, who delivered a bouncing little girl named Marta. One day later, Gretl was finally inspired and she gave birth to twins, a little boy Kurt and a little girl Liesl. The only goat birth I had ever experienced was Brigitta and she was an excellent little mommy, everything you would hope for, Marta was healthy, clean, and happy. But she was like this little bird from the book, she had no idea who her mother was at first, she would attempt to lick and nurse on our noses when we held her, she would follow Gretl and Louisa around, until she heard the call of her mother, than she would immediately perk up and run to the direction of the call. So when it came time for Gretl, I thought well it would be similar to our previous experience. Now why I would think this is completely beyond me, because when have you ever seen or heard of two people’s pregnancy, delivery, and parenting style even be similar.

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Well Gretl was no Briggita, when her kids were born, she was ornery, she didn’t act like she was bonding with them at all, she wouldn’t nurse them, and when little Marta came bouncing over to check things out, she butted her clear out of the goat house. The twins snuggled up to me, they began following me around and I started to get really nervous, they had the sweetest looks on their little goat faces, almost asking are you my mother? They walked over to Brigitta with the same look, and I immediately developed a sinking feeling that she might just reject them, because maybe she isn’t the “mothering type”. So there I stood watching goats, and playing referee, Gretl didn’t want the kids next to her, but she didn’t want anyone next to her, the goat house they had all shared for months , she now claimed as her residence and if anyone tried coming in, they quickly were reminded whose house that was. So what do I do I thought? I went with instinct, I thought, maybe she doesn’t know any better, maybe she is completely exhausted she did just have twins after all. So I decided to clean up the house put in new hay for her and the babies, and give her a little food, and reprimand her every time she was aggressive to the other goats, or to the babies. Now because I did all of that all at the same time I’m not sure which one worked, but it didn’t matter because she started changing.

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I started noticing Gretl acting more motherly, after she ate a little, knew she wasn’t going to get away with being mean and had a fresh clean place to relax, she started loving on them, nursing them, and they knew suddenly she was their mother. Now the house hogging well that took a little longer to correct, the solution, put on an addition. That very afternoon, Jody, my father, and my uncle got to work and added onto the goat house, and all seemed right in Gretl’s world.

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Here we are now three weeks later, with three little kids, who are fast as lightning, brave, spunky, and quite full of themselves. They are bouncing around, jumping over one another, standing on their mothers, and getting quite steady on their feet. They play, they butt one another, and they scream if their mothers get to far from them. Louisa is serving as the “nanny” goat, she keeps everyone in line when her besties are sleeping, but really because she is still young I often think she is getting them more riled up and showing them how to get into trouble.

Here is what I have learned watching my goats. Goats are comedians, if you are having a bad day, just for a moment watch goats play. They jump sideways, they bounce, they flip about, and occasionally (when they have some fainting goat in their bloodline) they will just fall over. And if you look at them real close, it looks like they’re smiling. Sometimes when I’m having one of those days we all have, and am particularly annoyed by someone, I think to myself GOATS MAKE ME HAPPY…. You not so much!

Whose Kid is this?

You know that scene from the Lion King where the new King of the Jungle is born and all the animals celebrate. It would appear that scene was over exaggerated for animation, I always thought it was a great beginning seeing the little baby lion held up for all the animals to see and welcome.  They all seemed to gather around to see the baby, welcome it and yell with glee. As it turns out it isn’t all that exaggerated.

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In January of this year, we added Friedrich to the VonTrapp family of goats, he was a sweet billy goat, yes you heard me a sweet! He was really socialized, man that sure makes a difference, and so friendly. (So friendly in fact he has no problems, riding in the car, or being walked on a leash.) He fit in nicely with the girls, they accepted him into the family and it didn’t take long before they did what goats do, make more goats!

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As the next few months past, we noticed Gretl really starting to show; since she has some Pygmy in her line and is a “low rider” she seemed to show quickly. Our vet confirmed what we were already seeing and did an ultrasound, two little goats’ twins were seen. We soon realized that Brigitta too was expecting, although we had no idea if she had one baby, two or three in there. Or who was pregnant first.The days, weeks, and months have passed, and Gretl just continued to grow. In fact she was looking so big and uncomfortable that it almost looks like she is going to explode.

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You know those nights you go to bed like before a big trip, and you set your alarm because you have to get up early in the morning, but it doesn’t take you long to think setting the alarm was pretty much pointless, because you never really sleep, you seem to stay up all night waiting for the alarm, because you are nervous it won’t go off, or you will sleep through it. This has been me for weeks now. I think I hear bleating in the middle of the night, I listen for kicking in the barn, or neighing from the horses. I run out in the morning and count goats and donkeys just to make sure one wasn’t added in the hours I was asleep. Well last night was all of that with an extra oomph. Jody and I went to bed, and the natives were restless, the dogs never quite settled down, the cats ran to and fro throughout the house. About 2 am Chandler and Phoebe both started to bark, and ran outside, I was convinced this was it….. Nope all seemed normal, we were awake, dosed back off, 3:45am again awake, and nope nothing. Finally at about 6:30am I gave up and decided to just get out of bed and have some caffeine. As I walked into the kitchen all I could think of was how this totally stinks, why am I up so early after barely sleeping on a Sunday morning? This was going to be a two-cup of coffee day.

As I sat down to drink my coffee, and looked outside, I thought today is going to be a beautiful day, the birds were already singing, the sun was starting to peak out. I drank my coffee, and for a moment enjoyed the quiet room, and morning Mountain View. About 7:30am I look out the front windows toward where the goats are and I couldn’t really see the goat house, because both donkeys were standing there blocking it. On the other side of the fence the horses were all kind of standing there, Roadrunner our rooster was really singing his good morning song, and the lambs were running back and forth, like they are running sprints.  Something seemed askew. I put on my boots and walked toward them, and there were no sounds that made me think anyone was in labor, and to be honest, I had just spent a good 30 minutes watching a man on YouTube deliver goats, because Gretl had isolated herself, and I had read somewhere that was a sign. This whole thing is new to me, and I have always been the type that the more I read, watch or research the better. As I got closer, Gretl moved from the corner of the goat house, and I see something bloody. Wait is that what I think it is, yes it is it’s a baby, a tiny little very new baby, and I CRY! Yep I sit there in the goat house and cry.

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Once I pull myself together I realize, we have a baby, a healthy beautiful little baby! I stand up look around and see movement at my parents house and start to yell across the pasture, yell who am I kidding I WAS SCREAMING! I then scream for Jody, I screamed so loud, that I was like the monkey that holds the baby up in the opening scene of Lion King. All of the farm family came running to see, all of the horses, stuck their heads over the fence, the donkeys, Friedrich, the lambs, even the chickens had a bunch to say. WE HAVE A BABY!!!

Wait, whose kid is this? I looked at Gretl and she was still big as a house and completely uncomfortable. Then I noticed Brigitta pushing out some of the after birth and realize , it was Brigitta’s baby, we were so worried about Gretl that some how we missed all of Brigitta’s signs and she just did what she needed to do. Brigitta came right over and started nuzzling the baby. The relationship between mother and baby is so incredibly special and beautiful, she cleaned this little baby all up, she was gentle and sweet. The baby stood, the baby cried, the baby nursed. All the horrible videos on YouTube and horror stories I have read for the last few months were put to rest, at least for right now. WE HAVE A BABY a healthy adorable little kid!

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Brigitta and Friedrich  along with the rest of the Barrows Family, have a sweet little girl, she too is a VonTrapp, introducing Marta, born July 2, 2017.

 

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Fences

We are going to call this simply fences. I read a quote from Will Rogers that said, “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.”  Somehow everything about this quote is relatable to us here on the farm.

One day before closing on our farm we were walking through the pasture looking at the property, I started to lose my balance a little, and grabbed the closest thing to me to prevent me from falling. As I felt a zap zap zap in the palm of my hands instead of screaming or even letting go, I proceeded to laugh. Yep, I had just grabbed an electric fence! I quickly learned how to spot a “hot fence” or listen for a sound that it makes.  Important and valuable information to learn!

Fences continued to be a big lesson we have learned about on the farm. A neighbor told us after getting the first two goats that if you ever want to know what condition your fence is in put a goat in the fence in question. We found this to be very very wise advice after adding another “kid” to the group, little Louisa, whose nickname could have been Houdini. Louisa’s first day here went surprisingly well, introduction to the other VonTrapp sisters seemed to be going good. She seemed to be a happy little goat bounding around, but that night while we headed out for the evening apparently Louisa planned her great escape. As we were across town, Jody’s phone rings and its our neighbor, he informed us on his way back from a Volunteer Fire Department call, he saw our new little tan goat Louisa running along the road. In attempt to remain calm we quickly escorted the children to the car, buckled up and then drove like Mario Andretti back to the farm. The children were convinced she was hit, she was gone, or other horrible things we will not mention here. As we pulled back into the driveway, we could hear her cute little goat song coming from the big pasture. Now let me paint the picture for you. We were coming back in dress clothes, it was pitch black out, and we live on several acres. Instead of running inside to change we decide to set up a goat blockade, with my husband in a suit, tie, Florsheim shoes and a headlamp, in an attempt to confuse Louisa and ultimately allow us to catch her.  Well we succeeded we were able to get her and return her back to the VonTrapps. To our surprise it wasn’t the fence that was the issue at all, it was the fact that goat could jump, in fact she jumped onto her goat house and straight out of her goat fence security.

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Meet Louisa

Fences and farms go hand in hand, in fact, I often wonder as many gates as I open and close a day are we fencing them in or are they fencing us out? It’s one of the first reminders we give to all who stop by and say hello. Did you close the gate, watch the fence, make sure the stall door is closed? Some do forget, we have had donkey’s in the driveway, a horse who practiced their 100 yard dash down our road, and most recently we had to recruit my parents French Bulldog aka my brother Harley to herd, you guessed it Louisa back in with the other VonTrapp’s after someone left the gate open.

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Louisa, Friedrich and Brigitta
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Harley the “unlikely” Goat Herder!

As the fence reads at our farm, “Please Keep Gate Closed. Don’t let the goats out no matter what they tell you!”

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I goat this!

As with any story there is a beginning although this isn’t the beginning of our “new life” in North Carolina, this is the beginning of bringing new life to the farm.  We figured with all the construction and the lack of real experience with farm animals, we would start with what we thought was easy.  We spoke to some neighbors got in touch with a guy who was looking to sell two lonely goats, that he no longer had a need for.  The day they arrived was an exciting day for us, because well they were our first new residents.  Now I’ll be honest the only real interaction any of us have ever had with goats before was at our zoo back in Florida, and at a petting zoo or two that we would take the children too.

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This was at a local petting zoo!  This is what we were expecting!

I didn’t think in my mind that it would be much different, I assumed they would be like any other cute, friendly, hungry goat we had ever visited with in the past.  Let’s just say that wasn’t at all the case, in fact, I don’t think these goats had ever been really handled, and most certainly not handled by the likes of us.  Let’s give you a mental picture, we are that family whose voice changes when we speak to living things, we are the family who attempts to speak dog, cat, or in this case goat.  We didn’t think it was too much to ask for the goats to immediately love us, I mean hello ladies don’t you realize how amazing we think you are!  As we showed the goats their new home, they ran as fast as the could away from us, we went to the left they went to the right.  The kids had treats, food, and even looks of come on goats we just want to hug you!

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As the kids looked at us with complete disappointment, my husband and I looked at each other and thought, why oh why hadn’t we just bought the tiny little bouncing goats we saw for sale online?  This was better we told the kids, since this is new for all of us, it’s better they are full-grown and hardier, they would be safer from potential predators, as I attempted to reassure myself, I mean them, I was also googling, “How to make a goat love me”  and made it my mission to break the goat code with these two lonely goats on a hill.  Wait wait, that sounds familiar high on hill was a lonely goat, that’s it we will name them after Vontrapp children because who doesn’t love the VonTrapp’s.  Welcome to the family Gretl and Brigitta, you’re going to love us, we goat this!

 

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