I had to go into town for a spell and on the way home, I noticed that not one snow flake was falling in Laporte. BUT….the closer I got to my house off of Waverly Rd, the snow started to lightly fall. By the time I got home, there was an angry snow storm in full swing. I swear there is an evil plan to dump snow over our farm just to make me miserable along with cranky animals!! And just for your info (as if you all didn’t know this already) guess who is standing at the gate in all this snow staring at the house??!! Yep, the mountain goat who was fed before I went into town 3 hours ago! Sheesh, you would think her feet would be frozen!
My poor animals are so barn crazy! The back llamas haven’t been out for a month now. Although we keep the front door open a little so the others can go outside to stretch their legs if need be, the only animals or shall I say, animal, that comes out for more than 30 seconds is Sierra the staring goat! And she does what? Stare at the house…waiting, watching, stalking, plotting. As a matter of fact, there is a tiny trail going from the barn to the gate. Those are her tracks. No other hoof prints anywhere else by the other animals in the snow! Sometimes it feels creepy to have a goat watching your house 24 hours a day, everyday….waiting for you!
Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, my animals surprise me with something else to shake my head at. I was in my office working when I looked out the window to see what the naughty’s were up to. Seemed normal, not much going on in below 0 weather. I had left the barn door open just enough to let them go outside in case they needed a break from each other. I saw two bunnies run out as fast as they could, following close behind was our goat Sierra. She chased those bunnies with her head bent low an inch or three behind a bunny butt all the way to the trees! She then walked back to the barn satisfied that her personal pile of hay was safe from un-wanted dinner guest!
On a warm summer weekend we had a garage sale. We would advertise all over town that Addie Acres was having another sale, encouraging folks that they are welcome to bring their youngsters to the farm to see the llamas and pet the fat little goat who likes to hug. It seems like every time we opened the doors, we would get people showing up to offer us FREE animals. This time it was free… chickens. This young couple were down on their luck, moving in with her parents but mom didn’t want noisy chickens to reside in her backyard. They were hoping that we would adopt their pets. They sweetened the deal by not only giving us these chicks, they were also throwing in a nice big cage, food dishes and corn grain! All that FREE stuff! I said, yes before Chad could blink an eye! These chickens were still young, mostly fluff and you couldn’t tell what they were yet. Unfortunately 5 out of the 8 chicks were Bantam’s. They are small chickens with big attitudes… little man syndrome. Of course 4 of those little terrors turned out to be roosters. They hung out together, attacked together and bossed every animal in the barn even at the risk of being stomped. We nicked named them the 4 Horsemen. Bantams are very pretty, they have long tail feathers’ with many different colors. These 4 guys traveled together…the gang. They didn’t like to sleep, eat or hang with the flock. We would watch them strut around the yard, chasing bunnies or sleeping under a bush. The Horsemen also didn’t care that much for humans and after giving Lucifer the axe a few months before, we weren’t up to letting roosters chase us in our own backyard again! Especially annoying little birds that were no bigger than our Chihuahua. We let them know early on that we the people, control the food and showed them where we kept the axe. The gang kept to themselves that first year and although they were a pain by pecking at our ankles we let them stay just so we could watch their antics with the other animals. The Horseman loved the cats and were not afraid of them. The kitties on the other hand despised those irritating birds. Those ankle tall roosters would chase the cats, pecking at their behinds or stealing their kibbles. The kitties sat high up on the hay bales to keep distance between them. Once in awhile you could hear the battle between the Horsemen and a couple of cats….loud squawks and high pitched meows. They also annoyed the goats. The gang was always sneaking into Dillon and Sierra’s pen, hanging out pecking at the goat grain. Once they were in, the goats were not allowed back inside with out a fight. We would chase the pest out so the goats could go to bed. The Llamas didn’t care for the gang and left them alone. Our dogs however loved them! If a pooch got out, he went straight for one of the Bantams! Cody our golden retriever enjoyed a good chase and these roosters were perfect exercise. Those chickens would split up running in circles or ducking under a barrel. Cody was in heaven! He went from one to the other, mouth open wide, tongue hanging, a few feathers stuck in his teeth. As much as I wouldn’t have cared, I never let him grab a Horsemen. But I did allow Cody to put the fear of dog in them! If they were acting up, I opened the door and let a dog or two out to put them back in their place. After a couple of years the gang started to get mean, following in Lucifer’s footsteps. They started to attack the children who stopped by to pet the animals so they ended up in the freezer. I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. Chad cooked them up one night and served them at a family gathering. I heard they were tough and not very tasty which didn’t surprise me at all. I enjoyed them for a short period and can honestly say, I will never allow Bantam chickens to rule the farm again, unless MAYBE they’re free!
Well since I’ve been writing about goats, I will tell about the 2cnd goat we got…for free. Jasper! You would think that after Billy, red flags would be easy to recognize. Well they’re not! Jasper came to us approx. 3 months after Billy went to live at his new butting playground. Jasper had been raised by an elderly lady who kept him in the house for the first year of his life. He was treated like a child and he excepted nothing less from Addie Acres when he joined our family. Jasper took over Billy’s old pen. It was the perfect goat area! It had a cozy 2 room shelter with a thick straw bed, a special wood ‘goat pole’ that we put up so he could scratch his horns and take care of any itch he may have. It had a large private pasture for running, playing and to lounge around in the sun with a small dirt hole for a body rub. Jasper had a couple of good points right from the start. He was already fixed and even thou he liked to play, he wasn’t a ‘butting’ goat. He would push around colorful beach balls, muzzle our hand for a massage and he had an unusual talent… escaping from any pen no matter where it was or how strong the structure! Billy the goat would butt us to play and Jasper the goat would escape so he could trot up to the house looking for his human family. He would spend un-noticed hours searching for a tasty bush he wasn‘t allowed to eat. We reinforced the fence, replacing most of it with horse fencing, plus we pounded in a few heavy duty posts to prevent him from pushing a wall down. Goats are famous for finding a weak spot in the fence or locating a hole as small as a guinea pig that they can hook their horns into until it is big enough to squeeze through. If he could get his head through an opening, his whole body would follow without effort! Jasper would work on his pen everyday, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! There were many times when would I find him standing on the porch next to my white wicker furniture staring with dancing eyes, tail wagging! He was patiently waiting for me to come out to feed him and play. We had folks knocking day and night to inform us that our escapee was out enjoying exotic flowers. We caught him standing on his hind legs, front hooves on the window sill, looking in the family room trying to find life inside the house! Jasper was too friendly! He didn’t want to be alone and he didn’t enjoy living outside like an animal! I really liked Jasper, he was cute as a button and loved his humans! But he refused to be caged and enjoyed his freedom too much. It finally got to the point that we needed to find him a real farm with farmers who knew how to keep a Houdini inside the barn. So after a few short months we gave Jasper to a young lady who fell in love with him. She was active in 4H, and excited to show him off at the fair. We told her about his escape adventures, not holding any information back. Lucky for us, this teenage girl was raised on a large farm, experienced in taking care of goats. She was willing to take Jasper the escaping goat and teach him proper farm manners. When the day came to say goodbye, I was sad. I gave him a hug and help load him into her trailer. I watched my silly goat ride down the gravel driveway, his furry behind sticking out, tail wagging as the dusty white cloud enveloped them. I was disappointed that once again we were goat free, yet relived that I didn’t have to chase him down 5 days a week, worrying he might be struck by a car. Our ‘goat less ness’ lasted for about 8 months. Our next 2 FREE goats came from the Michigan City petting zoo. Their Care Taker promised that they wouldn’t try to escape, reassuring us that because they were hand raised at the zoo, they didn’t have that natural instinct to butt, they did however, enjoy circling around people for grain and vanilla wafers. Welcome Dillon and Sierra…the staring goats!
I need to write about our first goat…Billy. Yes that was his real name. Chad and I were just getting started in the ‘farm business’ when a man with 2 kids tagging along behind him, came to our garage sale at our new home. He asked if he could take his children over to pet the horses and see the llamas up close. Of course we said yes, after all, that is why we felt led to get some large animals,to share our place with folks who had young’uns. After a few minutes of friendly chit chat, he mentioned that they purchased a young goat from the Amish almost 6 months ago and Billy was getting too big for their back yard. He asked us if would like to have him…for free! Well of course we said yes! Never turn down a free animal when your starting up a farm! Since we were new at this large animal stuff, it didn’t click inside our heads that there is always a good reason why people want to give away a perfectly good goat (remember the Dorito commercial??). That should have been Red Flag number one! We agreed to meet ‘Billy’ the next day to see if he would fit in with our family. We met Billy in the back yard of a modest house where they kept a few chickens and a very large black lab. Red Flag number 2 was about to show itself! Billy came running straight for us as fast as his little goat legs would trot, only stopping when his horns were firmly planted on Chad’s behind! We nervously laughed as Billy’s mom commented over and over how cute it is that he likes to ‘play’…allot….non stop…continually. Flag number 3 came when the kids automatically hid behind both parent’s as Billy tried to play with everyone within sight!
We took him home, in the back of our van.
Billy was an adorable looking goat with big horns and a non-stop ‘lets play’ attitude. His playfulness consisted of butting everything that breathed….the horses, which kicked their hind legs at him…the llamas that ran away which made him very happy since that meant chase, and anything on two legs! If you moved, he butted…if you stood still…he butted. If you came outside…he butted. He wasn’t mean, just a typical boy goat! After a couple of months of the butting game, Billy started to get gruff! He was beginning to smell like a mature goat! Male goats STINK if they aren’t fixed! Billy needed an ‘operation’. We were hoping that after his ‘castration’ he would settle down. Hope is a funny word when it comes to goats. Our wishful hope did not come true. Billy just wanted to play! Soooooo, we learned to run faster than him in a zigzagging line , we even made escape plans before we ventured inside his pen! Chad and I tried to feed him together as one of us distracted him so the other could sneak in, filling up his food dish and water bucket, trying to be quiet as barn mice. If he heard you, he got into play position, head bent low, horns glowing with determination to butt! We tried with Billy, we really tried. We changed how we did farm chores, we gave him balls to play with and learned how to be sneaky. After a LONG frustrating year, we gave him away…free to some folks who I’m sure had Red Flags swaying in the back of their minds as we commented over and over how cute it is that he likes to play!
Then we got our next FREE goat…Jasper, ‘butt’ that’s another story!
Oh what a wonderful morning! The first thing I usually do is open my curtains to spy on the animals to see if they are being naughty or nice! This morning they have decided to be naughty! I see Sweetie our black Llama in the front field, where she is NOT suppose to be! NOT A GOOD SIGN! I quickly get dressed and run out the non-stop swinging door, which I seem to be doing allot lately. I can now see Sparky, the Tank and Dunkay in the Llama field, a very bad sign. I don’t see our boy Llama Stormy, Sammie or Lincoln, an ‘Oh NO’ sign! I sprint to the barn where I hear two Llamas fighting and Lincoln my Alpaca is now running to the back field screaming…I didn’t know Alpacas can scream! It’s an eerie sound, nothing like their warning call. In the barn are two full grown male Llamas that out weigh me by 150 pounds each, fighting, making sounds that would make a grown man stop and back away praying that they don’t see him! I have to form a plan, quickly. Do I let them fight their way out of the barn or do I yell like a crazy lady waving my arms outside where people can see me? I yell. They both stop, look at me, look back at each other, then back at me. I swear they both had a look of amusement on their faces. After sharing a laugh between themselves, they decided to go back doing what boy Llamas do best…fight. I gave up. I trudged my way through the thick mud to the back field and chased 2 horses and a donkey back into their own pasture. Meantime Lincoln is in the corner of the fence panicking, wailing out his distress sounds. Both goats are in the barn hiding under the food bin and the kitties are going about cat business, they want to be fed…now! Stormy decided that he had had enough of Sammy and searches for Lincoln which got him out of the barn. He galloped over to where Lincoln was trembling then chased him along the fence. A grunting Llama with his head close to the behind of a screaming Alpaca! Oh where was my camera! While those two were running back and forth, it gave me a chance to herd both girl Llamas into the side yard with the promise of tasty grain. Lincoln runs back to the barn with an angry Llama snipping and spitting close behind! By the grace of God, I got Sammy & Lincoln into a pen (where the goats were hiding) and shut the gate to keep Stormy our boy Llama from biting them! Now I have 2 girl Llamas in one field, 2 horses and a donkey in another with an unhappy boy llama running from barn to pasture where his girls are. Now all I have to do is trick 3 Lamas into their own territory! HA! With a cup full of desirable grain, a slide of the hand on the gate, along with a few herding tricks that involves out stretched arms mixed with my own animal noises, they are back where they belong! I shut everybody into their rightful places and inspect for damage inside the barn. Not too bad, they didn’t consume all the grain, 2 hay bales were toppled, the chicken and cat food I left out last night had been eaten and only 2 piles of horse poop in the main area. I gave the horses their pills and fed chickens along with kitties, I scolded everybody for being bad boys and girls which doesn’t do me any good, they only stare back with a blank expression. I will keep a close eye on the herd today. If they worked the inside gate open once, they will surely do it again.
Okay…this was weird. I went out to feed everybody (their favorite past time) and the goats were in the far corner away from all the other animals, not unusual since they don’t like anyone else and keep to themselves. I noticed they were facing each other, almost nose to nose making soft grunting and baaaing sounds back and forth…like they were ‘talking’ to each other. They were so deep in ‘conversation’ that I didn’t want to break-up their special moment. So I stood there watching with a smile on my face silently kicking myself for once more forgetting to bring the camera out with me. I didn’t get to awwwww every long, Dunkay butted me from behind and the mini tank made sure I saw her, all of her. Apparently the other animals don’t think it’s as cute, they want to eat…..now.
Ahhhhh yes, the sounds of the New Year on the farm! My rooster who started a good 20-30 minutes early was right on cue at the stroke of midnight! He let it out his celebration crow loud and strong, following within seconds, were the neighbors across the street with their left over 4th of July fireworks! My dogs jumped up and started barking at all the outside party sounds as the famous lighted ball dropped in front of a million people dancing in the streets of New York City blasting from the TV. I’m shocked the goats weren’t staring at the house bleating out the ‘BAAAAAA feed me’ song they’ve been perfecting for months!
I should train myself NOT to look out the window early in the morning to see what the naughty’s are doing, its too stressful! I pulled back the curtain to see what was going on in the field and I spotted Laci the mini tank laying halfway in the barn door. Dunkay was trapped in the barn with his head poking out, Sparky and both goats were stuck outside trying to get back in! Our mini tank was laying completely still, head down, not moving a muscle. I truly thought she was dead. She likes to lay down in the middle of the field but in the middle of door way? I ran from window to window trying to get a different view to see if she was moving, I even knocked on one window which is silly, they can’t hear me that far away although both goats perked up and looked my way happy to hear human sounds,they have ears of an elephant when it comes to the possibility of food, all other sounds they ignore. I woke Chad up and told him in less than 3 seconds how Laci was laying in the doorway possibly dead and that the other animals are trapped! I yelled that he needs to get up NOW and go do CPR before we lose her!! He looked at me with one eye open with his ‘here she goes again’ look and mumbled something about the ‘horse is sleeping, leave her alone’. I insisted he get up and save my horse,he insisted that he stay in bed and rolled over. Needless to say, by the time I got dressed and out to the barn, Laci was sitting up looking at me with joy in her eyes knowing that breakfast was early this morning!