A week ago we picked up our buck for this year – a 2-month old Nubian – from my friend Denise. We traded two piglets for him, which worked out great because she’s got tons of skimmed milk for pigs, and now the piglet load seems much more manageable (or feedable) at our place. We had a choice of an Alpine/Saanen cross buck, too, but April and Twilight Sparkle’s shrek ears from the LaMancha/Nubian/African Pygmy buck last year made us choose the Nubian. There’s no knowing what kind of mutant goats we might get from adding two more breeds in there.
He came with the name Night Hawk and has quickly worked his way into everyone’s heart (except the other goats). He is so sweet and friendly. He loves being petted and snuggled, and even snuggles back. He also gives nibbly goat kisses. Clothilde is absolutely in love with him. Yesterday Rose put her hair into pigtails, which she insists on being called “Momo Ears” after our cat Momo who she adores, so when I saw her I exclaimed, “Oh, Clo-Clo, you have Momo ears!” and she said, in typical contrary 2-year old fashion, “No, Night Hawk ears.”
The big girls are incredibly, heart-breakingly mean to the little guy, so we let him out as much as possible when we are there. They are giving him the “Mean Middle School Girl” treatment, where they stand in a group and look antagonistically at him, and shove him if he tries to join in. Even ugly, bug-eyed little April and Shrek-eared Twilight Sparkle horn him savagely if they can catch him. He cries pitifully when we put him back in the pasture when we have to leave.
The first day he was with us, we tried to feed him peanut hay and barley, but he didn’t like them. He had been on regular old sweet feed, so we gave him some cracked corn, which he liked. He couldn’t graze. We would offer him some grape leaves or tender bahia grass, and he obviously thought it wasn’t edible. After the second day he must have been watching the other goats, because he learned how to graze! Now he won’t eat anything else. He wanders around us, nibbling at everything. We think of grazing as an automatic behavior for runimants, but it isn’t. They learn from their mamas. You can teach cattle to graze and eat plants they normally do not like (but they are not toxic, just not palatable), and they will teach their calves. My friend Karen told me a funny story once about a family who rescued an abandoned calf and had a really hard time teaching it to drink out of a water trough instead of a bottle.
We had a few friends over on Saturday for home made ice cream, and Night Hawk hung out with us the whole time. He was like a well-behaved dog for the most part, browsing around the edges of where we were hanging out until he was full, and then he sat under the table and ruminated while we stood around and talked.