Along with goat-baby season comes adrenalin season. What I mean is I never have a dull moment on the farm.
Yesterday I decided I needed to disbud (burn the horn buds off) my baby goats. I had four that needed it done. This is my first year doing the disbudding by myself. Earlier in the year, Sadie needed it done. I had Tom help me this first time. I was very nervous and Tom didn't like the whole process. Being nervous, I did a poor job the first time and had to do it again. I contracted my friend, Heather, to do it with me the next time. She wasn't very impressed by the whole deal, either. Even doing it twice didn't make it any better, Sadie will have some short horns when she grows up. Since both my helpers would probably never be persuaded to help me again, I had to get creative. Thank god I am so darn bull-headed!
With Sadie I had put her in a box to hold her down. The box wasn't originally designed to be for disbudding. It was a rabbit nest box. It didn't work so well. This time I decided to forget the box and hold the babies down manually. I put them between my legs while I kneeled down and held them. It worked great!! I was able to do all four babies without a problem. Needless to say, it was quite an adrenalin rush to hold the babies down and disbud them.
This morning I had a few more adrenalin rushes. I wanted to milk Pepper when I did chores this morning. She wasn't used to the milkstand and I hadn't had to milk her in the mornings before. She has started making lots of milk and inspite of her babies best efforts, she has milk to spare. I had been having trouble getting her on the stand the past few nights. I bring her to it and she refuses to jump up. I give her food and ask her nicely, but nothing works. I get a little more forceful and pushy. She still won't go for it. I then grab her and shove her up there. By the end I am sweating and Pepper is shaking. It was quite a rush to wrestle a goat at 6am.
After I finished milking Pepper and put her back in her stall, I took the two yearlings (Matilday and Lucy) out to the pasture. I held onto Matilda's collar the whole way because I knew she would run away from me if I didn't. Lucy would follow Matilda out. When I got to the gate I had to let go of Matilda to undo the latch. I had Matilda between me and the fence and assumed that she wouldn't run off in the two seconds it took me to unlatch the gate. Well, I was wrong. She turned and darted out to the yard. Lucy was right behind her. I chased Lucy down and caught her by the collar. I put her in the pasture. Then I went to get Matilda. She wouldn't let me get near her. I tried to keep her going toward the barn and not out into the woods or the neighbor's lawn. She eluded me a few times and wouldn't go all the way into the barn without Lucy. I knew if I could get her into the barn she wouldn't be able to run. No luck. Matilda stopped in the driveway to the barn. I was five feet from her. In my best rodeo-star impersonation I lept into the air and came down on top of Matilda. I hooked her collar with my right hand and grabbed her around the middle with my left. I was amazed she stood still for the two seconds I was in air above her. Usually they run off at that moment and leave you to land in the dirt. I was happy to have her back and put her into the pasture. This time I didn't let go of her to undo the latch.
It was a busy evening and morning, but it's all part of being a goat herder.