Is your head doe bossing you around?

In my little goat herd, Rosie is head doe. Goat herds are not exclusive clubs. Nearby chickens are included. People are too. As far as the goats are concerned, I’m a member of the herd, and that’s usually really nice. We’ve cleared brush together companionably, and they miss me if I’m not the one to look in on them.

However.

The head doe does boss her followers around. Gigi’s felt Rose’s horns more than once. Unfortunately, so have I. Not often, but it happened again a couple of days ago. Here’s what I’ve done to clarify our relationship.

Grabbing the goat by the horns

The horns that make Rose’s bossiness a problem are also a great way to get a handle on her. Literally. Rose is stronger than I am, but those horns give me an advantage. The first time I had to use them was a few years ago. She was a couple of years old and felt it was time to take me in hand. I couldn’t quite control her by holding her horns and didn’t dare let go. She was seriously trying to take me down, as she would an impertinent goat in her herd. I’m not as tough as a goat, and she probably could have hurt me far more than she intended to.

We danced around for several minutes before I thought, “Hmm. Goats do not like to lay on their side. If I switch this hand… to the rear leg… and pull…”

It worked like a charm. She went down hard and I had complete control. More important, I had her complete attention. I lectured her on appropriate behavior toward humans. I don’t know whether she understood any of the words, but she¬†definitely got the message. I avoided her the next day (I was pretty pissed) and that had her really worried. We’ve not had many issues since then.

Last week I had the girls out on a lead. Rose wanted to move to a new location, but I was still working with the lead (which Gigi, as usual, had wrapped around the stub of a shrub). Rose hooked her horns into my thighs (ouch), threw me off balance, and made her escape — all of three yards, to a bit of blackberry vine she’d been eyeing.

When I caught up with her, I grabbed her horns and twisted her head to one side, as if to lay her down, and gave her a synopsis of the earlier lecture. For the next two days she sidled up to me at every opportunity, nuzzling me, giving me her best doe-eyes, and essentially saying, “We’re good, right?”

Life is back to normal in the herd. We’re a close-knit group where Rose is head doe. But I’m the boss.

Goats and sneezes

Social animals, like goats, have ways to sound an alarm. It might be a bark, or a trill, or a shriek. With goats, it’s a sneeze. Really.

So, there I was in the chicken run, which is right next to the goat run. I had a cold. I sneezed. And Gigi, my easy-going docile little Nubian goat, came dashing out of her stall. She was on alert, looking around for the source of danger. She was coming to my aid! I’m not sure what form that aid could possibly take. But she was not going to let me face danger alone.

It’s just so darn sweet.