It’s no secret that we are in for a strong storm with heavy wind, and heavy rain. But even if I hadn’t heard a weather report, I would have known that things were about to get messy around here.
Earlier this afternoon I let my goats out to graze. Like always they ate like they had never seen food. The difference was, they never moved from the spots they were grazing in.
There were no fights over the tastiest morsels, no checking out the clump of greenery ten feet away, and there were no attempts to graze in forbidden areas. Just non stop grazing for more than an hour.
My son had an appointment after school in Bangor, but his school is more than twenty miles from the house, so we had to go pick him up. Otherwise I would have let the goats keep grazing until they showed signs that they’d had enough.
I coaxed them into their pen with a generous serving of goat pellets, but even that was barely enough to get them safely behind a closed gate.
As I headed for the van I could hear them begging to be let out for more grazing time. They sounded like they were going to wither and die on the spot if I didn’t feed them.
When we got home just after 4PM I went out to the pen to re-attach the hay rack to the wall outside the goat barn. The holes in the rack were too big for sheet rock screws, and the goats had pulled it down.
With heavy rains forecast, for Thursday, the goats would be penned up all day, and would need a few flakes of hay to tide them over until the storm passed, and it cleared up on Friday. It was already sprinkling, as I gathered my material.
Now it is also no secret that goats HATE to be wet. No matter how hot it was over the summer, as soon as it stated to sprinkle, my goats ran for cover.
But this evening, as soon as they heard the doors on the van closing, they started in their pitiful bleating to be let out to graze.
As I approached the gate, they were waiting, and they didn’t hesitate once the gate was open. They poured out of the gate, each in their own separate direction, and immediately started feeding.
Again, there was no fighting, or picky eating. They ate the first clumps of grass they found, and didn’t stop until the clump was down to the ground. When the clump was gone, they stepped forward slightly, and continued on. A weed whacker would have had a hard time trimming the tall grass as efficiently as my goats were doing this evening.
The section of yard outside the gate is bordered on one side by thick blackberry bushes, and soon enough Billy’s path of grazing led him to the edge of the thicket. He simply looked up and started stripping the blackberry canes of their leaves. He didn’t take the time to find the newest shoots, or even the green ones. He just stripped every leaf, from every cane he encountered, and moved on to the next.
Even more surprising was that Smeck and Kramer just ignored that Billy was eating something other than grass. They just ate the grass in front of them, until Kramer first, and then Smeck, reached the blackberry thicket on their own. Like Billy, they too stripped every leaf from the cane in front of them before moving to the next.
Meanwhile, I finished re-attaching the hay rack, and decided to do a repair on the door to the old chicken coop. A few of the birds, including the rooster have recently started using it, so I figured I would do what I could to keep the draft out.
As I left the area outside the goat pen, and headed into the back yard, I brushed up against the grain bin, and that got the attention of the goats.
All three of them ran over to me to see if I was going to hand out some grain. When I didn’t, they put their heads down where they stood, and started eating grass again.
Soon, I finished the repairs to the door on the coop, and I just stood watching the goats. They had eaten a path in a fan shape from the top of the hill, down into the back yard. Billy was on my left eating towards the apple tree, Kramer was in the center eating toward me, and Smeck was on the left eating his way toward the back corner of the chicken coop.
It was raining pretty steady at this point, and my jacket was starting to feel wet around my shoulder blades, but still the goats kept eating. Their bellies were rounding out as their rumens filled.
I made my way back up to the area outside the gate to the pen, and the goats followed me. They looked at me, and then the grain bin, and again decided I was not going to give them any grain, so Billy and Kramer headed into the blackberry thicket, and Smeck went back to munching grass.
I went into their pen to make mental plans for things I needed to do before winter hits, and I wasn’t really paying attention to the goats. I could hear the wet squeaks the grass was making as a goat pulled up a clump to munch so I knew they were close by, doing their thing.
Soon, I heard the steady hiss of heavier rain approaching, followed immediately by the stampeding hoof beats of all three goats as they entered the pen through the gate, and headed straight into their little barn. They immediately settled down, closed their eyes, and started chewing their cud! I have never seen the goats enter their pen in a more orderly fashion, and I doubt I ever will again!
Being a hunter, I know that deer will feed heavily before a storm to fill their bellies before finding a dry place to wait it out, and it seems my goats have done the same!