Tag Archives: goat toys

The Goat Gig

He’s watching me.  I’m brushing Sage (He-Who-Reared-Up-At-Me-Again-This-Week) and the Bearded One keeps coming in and out of the barn, making sure Sage behaves.


I’m so new to this goat gig, I know nothing.  I accept the Bearded One’s protector personality and I accept the responsibility of monitoring my own cavalier-tending attitude toward capricious wild animals and I am uber-careful and will not keep brushing Sage after he turns and looks at me.  And in exchange the Bearded One will not mention getting rid of Sage again.

Earlier this week, I was brushing our biggest Pygora goat Sage in the upper pasture when he gave me the eyeball and body language that he didn’t like where I was brushing anymore, but I didn’t quit soon enough because he carefully backed up, then stood on his hind legs and challenged me to a whacking of horns.  It was affectionate and playful, despite the situation.


Still, among goats, that rearing up is a very short-term prelude to charging ahead and ramming something.  Other goats, barn walls, people.  They can do it way gently or way hard.  I yelled at him to get down, which he did, but the Bearded One saw the whole thing and said, “We might have to get rid of Sage.  Gotta put a stop to that.”

I agree that a solution must be found, but I also know that I was more in control of the situation than the Bearded One credits me for.  And I was untouched.  Still, in a love relationship you take care of yourself at least partly because of and for the other, and my other is concerned.  His own mother was rammed hard by her own billy-goat when she was 80.

He keeps checking on us.  At least that’s what it seems like he’s doing.  There he goes again.  Probably making a crate to transport Sage back to Vashon Island, I think.


I’m using the new tail-and-mane brush we bought at the feed store.  Sage’s creamy fleece floats above his thick brown guard hairs like foam, and my job is to brush it out so we don’t have to shear him.

Shearing would require buying or renting equipment and restraining the goats, or hiring someone to do it, and since the goats shed their fleece anyway, and since it’s still freezing some nights, we’ve elected to just brush it out.  Then wash it and maybe stuff pillows with it.  Or learn to card and spin.


We have a good bunch of it this year.  We started daily brushings when we saw them rubbing it off on the fencing.

I pull another inch-thick patty size chunk of Sage fleece from the brush tines and add it to the pile.  And continue brushing.  And pondering my relationship to the goats, how to embrace them without embracing them.

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Both the Bearded One and I brush all three goats now, but Pearl is partial to the Bearded One.  Sage can’t stand to see Pearl being brushed — he can’t stand to see LaLa brushed either — he charges over and butts them out of the way.

So the Bearded One carries a walking stick with him when he brushes Pearl.  He’s never struck Sage with it, he just holds this 5-foot pole in one hand and Sage doesn’t approach.  “He respects the stick,” says the Bearded One.  Which amazes me, but it works.


Sage’s eyelashes are so lovely and long.  I think of him as my buddy and companion.


As I brush, I want to show affection to him like to a dog or cat.  Not kissing, though.  I haven’t kissed LaLa since I promised I wouldn’t — over a month now.  Sage turns and stares at me with his square pupils.  That’s enough, he’s saying.

I follow him out of the barn, carrying the pile of feather-soft fleece in a plastic bag to take to the house and clean.

And that’s when I see what the Bearded One’s been doing when I thought he was checking on me.

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Setting up to pour concrete as a finishing cap on his latest goat toy, the four-ramped Goat Gig.  There’s not much chance of Sage leaving any time soon.

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Goat Mountain and a ’65 Mustang

“Someone’s here,” says the Bearded One, looking up from his breakfast Coke and the newspaper.  It’s 10am on another precious clear, warm day at the very tail end of summer. The Bearded One slept in, nursing his sore muscles from mixing cement in his manic push before the fall rains start.

“It’s Edeltraut!” I say.  Our 70ish neighbor up the road waves to us through the window and we’re both delighted.  Edeltraut, pronounced A-dul-trout, is a small woman with rosy cheeks and direct brown eyes who grew up in Germany and came to America in the 1950s with her sister.  She and her husband have lived here on the road for two years.  Her German accent has softened over the years.

“I should haf called,” she says.  She is wearing a cheery pants-and-sweater outfit and white clogs.  She carries a red notebook and is clearly distressed.

“Come in!” we say in unison. We love Edeltraut. The Bearded One offers her a chair at the kitchen table and I offer her a cup of coffee.

She accepts and sits, placing the notebook on the table in front of her.  She means business.  “I’m just so embarrassed,” she says.  “So ashamed.  We haven’t written the letter.”

Last spring Edeltraut and her husband volunteered to be the new road managers, bless them. We’re just six years out from the Paving War where there were hard feelings, but most everyone is past it now.  Still, having new neighbors in the job helps.  We tell her that.

“If vee can’t get along in our families and neighborhoods,” she says softly, “how can vee get along as a vorld?”

We nod our agreement and then Edeltraut lays both of her hands on the notebook.  She wants to do a good job, she says vehemently, but her husband is rebuilding their daughter’s old 1965 Mustang — “every little rusty screw!”  It’s all he thinks about, and they haven’t devoted the time and focus to the letter that they should have.  She is sorry and needs help.

The road manager’s job is to hire a road-work company to grade and gravel, and to try and collect $120 each from the 25 or so resident households to pay for it.  It’s been so dry this year that the wash-boarding — the deep regular waves in the road caused by bouncing car suspension — is the worst since we’ve been here.

We fill the potholes, a separate chore altogether.  So we have the current mailing list and offered to help early on, back before the Mustang project.

I feel Edeltraut’s frustration.  I, too, have an occasionally obsessed, very creative husband who has his own project blocking out awareness of all other things, namely rebuilding Goat Mountain.  The goats need something rough and hard to keep their hooves filed down, and the Bearded One’s solution is a 3-foot-high hill covered deep with cement and then embedded with gravel.

He heaped dirt and rocks between two stumps to make the skeleton.  It’s a great design, but it requires dozens of 60-pound sacks of cement, all of which the Bearded One unloads and hauls and unloads again with his 57-year-old body.

I tried to hire Jonah, Momma Goose’s son, and most likely the strongest man on the road, to help.  He wasn’t home, though.  He just got hired again up in Seattle, so I chatted with his dad Brooklyn Man about the chicks.  They are our poultry mentors, and we just split an order of Cornish fryer chicks that are now 3 weeks old.  He tells me they’ve lost 5 out of 60, one crushed early on, the others just died.  We’ve still just lost one.  Momma Goose is working lots of hours at her outside job, he says.

Everyone is overdoing it, even me.  It’s harvest week and when I’m not digging potatoes and onions, I’m jamming and drying.  In fact, the kitchen is all set up for peach plum jam making today.

Edeltraut looks hopelessly at the master address list, a color-coded switchboard of symbols and connecting lines, and says, “I write vit an accent.”

The Bearded One and I volunteer to address the envelopes and draft a letter and get both into her mailbox the next day.

Which we do.  And the Bearded One agrees to spread the remaining cement hauling out over hours if not days.  So Goat Mountain’s still not finished three days later, Saturday, when Edeltraut’s husband stops by to thank us.  He’ll mail the road letter out on Monday, he says, and by the way — a twinkle in his blue eyes now — he took the pan off the Mustang this week!

I have no idea what he’s talking about, not sure why there was a pan on the Mustang to start with.