My goats, Barley and Clover, are nearly a year now. And they are really, really, really bad. Bad like little boys are. But like Dr. Evil says: I can’t stay mad at you. Look at that punim.
Look at it indeed. This picture was taken after I fed them. I was inside the tack room talking on the phone. That’s Barley standing in the wheelbarrow peering in the window. At one point he even had his nose pressed against the glass.
What I have learned about goats is that they are smart and that they are curious, which gives them a bad rep. Goats will eat everything, is one thing people say. But the truth is they don’t eat everything; they taste everything, usually things above their heads. Most of which they destroy whilst they are tasting it. If they don’t find it to their favor they will spit it out and show their displeasure by tap dancing all over it. Every chef’s nightmare.
There is an evolutionary component to this sampling thing above their heads. Goats evolved to browse lots of different vegetation above the ground instead of grazing on the same old grass like horses and sheep do. So they haven’t developed a resistance to parasites. There is no five-second rule to the goat. If it lands on the dirt, it’s yick. And if it smells weird and tastes weird they won’t eat it. And nothing will convince them otherwise. But I think this tasting of everything is also simply their natural curiosity, and nothing passes them by. They will taste your hair, the buttons on your coat, the laces on your shoes, the barn rake handle, the barn, the barn cat. Visitors are particularly tasty because they usually wearing something they haven’t tried yet, such as those dangly earrings.
The tack room is filled with things any foody goat would want to sample: hay, grain (horse and goat), treats, leather saddles and reins on bridles, barn rakes, barn cat. If only…if only they could get inside. Like an exclusive club that only allows the elite few, the tack room is the place to get into as far as my goats are concerned. They have tried to hop over the Dutch door, jump from the manure cart over the door, and they have fiddled with the latch in many different ways.
They’ve already figured out the hay barn, which is a huge tent thing that zips closed. Barley worked out how to grab the zip and pull it just enough to get his head under and slide in. The other goats follow behind. The first time they did this I found them bleating happily, jumping up and down on the hay bales like the hay barn was some kind of bouncy castle. To their credit they seemed to know they weren’t supposed to be in there. When I unzipped the door two goats stopped what they were doing and slunk out. Barley, of course, had his back turned and kept on frolicking, tra, la, la, until he heard me. If goats could look surprised, he did. Caught with his proverbial hoof in the cookie jar. But once goats work out how to do something they never forget. So I had to clamp the hay barn shut.
So let’s go back to that goat in the tack room window. A few days after I took that photo they breached security. About noon I saw empty feed bags tumbleweeding across the pasture—feed bags that had been folded up INSIDE the tack room, so I knew the door was open. Now, it’s not good for an animal to get into grain bins and overeat. This causes bloat in goats and laminitis and colic in horses. I hightailed it down to the barn expecting to find sick animals all around. I have to apologize for not taking a photo of the tack room for you but I didn’t have my camera with me. I wish you could have seen the damage. It looked like we had been robbed. Feed sacks everywhere, hay bales exploded open, chairs overturned, saddles dumped on the ground. Muddy cloven hoof prints everywhere. The goats had danced all over everything. Thankfully they hadn’t eaten any of the grain, but from the looks of things, they had tried to eat the barn cat. I found poor Holden hiding in the manure shed and his little cubicle bed lying forsaken in a puddle of muddy water in the middle of the paddock. Who knows what wild ride he had been on.
The cause of the breach? The tack room door was wide open so I’m thinking this was a human error. Perhaps it wasn’t latched all the way and the goats were able to slide it open somehow. But we have all vowed to be extra vigilant from now on.
The goats had the manners to look chagrined. But even if they didn’t, really, who could stay mad at them. I mean, look at that punim.