No Ifs, Ands, or Butts - or, Who's Boss?

 Christine Maccabee

Lately one of my goats, the boss one, Queen Tut. Fleetfoot. has taken to butting me. When it happened twice in one week this w inter, as I w as dutifully leaning over to tidy up their straw bed, I had no choice but to try to show her who the real boss was. Swiftly, with-out a second thought, even instinctively, I Iifted my right leg in typical karate style and simultaneously struck and shoved her a good couple of feet away from me. She is a large goat, and I was amazed at the strength and effect of this shove. But I was not the only one who was surprised. The wild, challenging look in Fleetfoot's eyes, and her rigid stance in order to retaliate, quickly evoked soothing and reassuring words from my mouth.

The battle was over, but who was the winner?

Fleetfoot, the dominant goat in the pen, was trying to put me in my place. Now that I am such a familiar entity. she feels comfortable enough to smell my butt, and now, to butt me. I knew this could not continue, as her long, dull, nonetheless dangerous, horns hurt and create bruises when strategically jabbed into my upper thigh. She knows how to use her weapons, even though I am not her enemy. However, I am a threat to her dominant position in my little herd.

What Fleetfoot doesn't know (or does she?) is that she needs me, and that she is totally dependent on me. Not only do I feed and water her and clean her bed of manure (I still haven't figured out why goats "do their do" right where they sleep). I also relieve her of the terribly full bags she has each day. She is not drying up yet, and if she is like some very good milkers may not dry up for two years! I just wish she were more like Fawn.

Fawn is a dream to milk. The other day I was talking to her, as I do when-

ever I milk, and I said aloud, "I would love to have two of you for one of Fleetfoot, or three, or four." With only one working bag, the milking time is shorter, and she never kicks or ohjects....l never have to tether her hind legs as I do with Fleetfoot. I suppose in every family there will be a problem child, or adult, but we still have to love them. Still, some days it is a challenge...such as the other day when Fleetfoot kicked the bucket.

"Kicked the bucket!" my friend Ed exclaimed with great concern in his voiceas we were talking one day on the telephone. "Oh," I said quickly, "I don't mean that she died. She simply kicked over the pail of milk." We laughed, and that is really all you can do when dealing with a headstrong animal.

...for instance, the other day...I entered the pen with my usual optimism, fully determined that all would go smoothly. I praised Fleetfoot for being such a good goat (she is truly good 9000 of the time), and hopeful of emptying her fullest bag. It seems I can only empty three-quarters of this one hag before she's had enough and her hind feet are up in the air. True to form, on this particular day after less than 5 minutes, she grew restless. I am becoming fine tuned to her moods, and today I was ‘quick on the draw’ so to speak, determined never to lose milk again.

Swiftly I pulled the pail away. The fullest bag wasn't empty, but I had a

nice quantity in the pail.

Now you tell me,..."Who's Boss?"

Read other articles by Christine Maccabee