Goats are playful. They like to climb. Flat fields really aren’t their natural habitat. So when they decide to be themselves, interesting things happen, especially when the goat in question is an energetic, headstrong young buck. Saturday morning we went down to the goat paddock for the morning milking, intending it to be an efficient affair before heading in to market. Then we saw this (click on photos to enlarge):
Yes, he’d figured out how to climb up the sides of our hoop structures. Generally the method involves taking a running leap onto the side of the hoop, and getting your hoof just deep enough into the tarp to get purchase on a steel rod, so you can clamber up the side like a crab until you’re proudly perched at the summit of Mt. Cattle Panel (read more about these structures at the link above).
The benefits were clear. Not only was it insanely fun, as he was demonstrating by racing between the milking structure (blue tarp) and the housing structure (silver tarp) and climbing both, it also gave access to some higher-up branches that had otherwise been out of reach. Above, you see him enjoying the bounty while Garlic tries to figure out how SHE can join in.
Naturally, this was of concern. First, we didn’t know how long the tarps would last before breaking and leaving a young goat hanging five feet off the ground with his legs stuck through a cattle panel. Second, it appeared that his weight was gradually bending and deforming the hoop (see above photo). However, we really needed to get to market and didn’t have time to fully address the problem. We had just enough spare material lying around down there to put up barriers around the milking structure, but had to leave the housing structure to his whims until we got home. Of course, we arrived home around noon to find this:
Yes, he’d jumped on the hoop until it had deformed so low that all the others could join the game, and together the combined weight of five goats was MORE than enough to permanently squish the steel and produce the result you see above. Naturally, since this is their housing and shade, they were all still attempting to squeeze under it for their afternoon nap. Not an easy task with horns.
So we pulled the whole structure apart, dragged the deformed panels out of the paddock, cursed for a bit while threatening the buck with early butchering, and decided we didn’t have time to build a new structure that afternoon. So we moved all the hay, feed, and other supplies out of the milking hoop (which is normally off-limits to them) and let them have that as an overnight shelter. The next day we found the time and energy to drag down six more cattle panels and build a new housing structure, complete with cattle panel barriers along the side to forestall any further extreme sports. You can see the results below:
It was really a pretty funny incident, other than the fact that it was a hot, humid weekend with a mile-long to-do list. Still, watching the little bugger race around taking flying leaps onto the hoops was pretty amusing in its own way.
By the way, those who’ve been following the goats may be wondering why we’re still milking. Regardless of the snakeroot situation, we still need to milk the does to (a) help remove any possible toxins from their system, and (b) maintain the status quo until we can make a final decision on whether to dry them off for good this year or return to using the milk that’s currently being dumped twice a day. We’re pursuing that decision through research, a lab test, and more. Look for an update soon, when we get the lab results back. So far, everyone is healthy and signs indicate that they didn’t eat enough to really cause problems for us or them.