The farrier was out to trim The Girls' hooves last week, which is our reminder that it is also time to trim the goats' hooves. Well, "reminder" is not quite the right word -- it is more of a "sentence" -- the kind the Judge hands down when the charges are serious.
Anyone out there with goats should be able to relate. When we got our first goat, and the hoof trimming procedure was demonstrated to us, it looked so easy....
We bought our first goat, Marco (a.k.a "The Alien" and "You Are An Ass!!") from the LaPorte County Fair. We had decided we needed a goat because some of the weeds in the pasture became so overgrown that we had to mow -- these were weeds that for some reason the horses would not eat. We had been to my cousin's house in the mountains of North Carolina a few years before. He wanted to clear a piece of property he had purchased, and got two or three goats. He left them on the property, and they cleared it so beautifully. We imagined the same thing would happen to the gangly weeds in our pasture -- they would be beautifully cleared if only we had a goat.
At the Fair we went into the Goat Barn, located a young 4H member who was showing goats and asked if he wanted to sell one. Of course he did. He showed us Marco (who at the time was named "Sampson") and explained that this particular goat was headed for the meat truck when the Fair closed. He was the cutest little goat -- maybe 20 pounds. I couldn't stand the thought of him being in the next Gyro sandwich we would order in a Greektown restaurant in Chicago at some point in the future, so we gave the 4H boy $20 and promised to pick Sampson/Marco up on the last day of the Fair. We got to talking about how to care for goats, and 4H Dad showed us how to trim the hooves.
Standing beside the darling little goat, he pulled up a leg, took a rasp and ran it over the bottom of the hoof a time or two. "See! That's all you have to do." Like a couple of green city folks turned country, we bought it -- and the goat.
The reality of our lives with goats is quite different than what I imagined on that warm July day at the Fair in the Goat Barn, looking at sweet little Sampson/Marco munching on hay in his cute little pen. Within 24 hours of bringing Marco home we had another tiny, young goat -- yes, we called the 4H Family to ask if they had another goat to sell us (that is a story for another post). And now when it is hoof trimming time we must get properly liquored up to endure the ordeal.
The Goat Boys are full grown now -- on hind legs they stand at about 6' tall and weigh well over 100# each. And they absolutely hate having their hooves trimmed. You can do the math and realize this is not a match-up either John or I would win easily. Alone, neither of us would have a snowball's chance. So we have to team up.
Our battle plan consists of a two-front attack (following consumption of a beer and a couple of zoomers of rajkia each). We tether the goats to the stall doors. John grabs the one we decide to work on first (usually Marco, because as noted above he is "...An Ass!!!"), pins him up against the stall door keeping a hand firmly on the collar in case a mild choke is needed. I grab a hoof, try to hold it still, and do the trimming. When they start to kick, I have to let go of the hoof, regroup, and try again. Sometimes John loses control of the goat, and then we have to stop, regroup, and try again. Often we have to take another rajkia break between hooves.
It is an exhausting ordeal. I must say, as they have gotten older it has gotten a bit easier. They are a touch more calm.
But I can't help but wonder how we are going to do this when we are a bit older. (????)
This picture of John and one of the chickens is included here for no particular reason.