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The New Goats are Settling In


It always take a bit of time for new animals to settle in and understand the rhythms of their new home.  Not only are the new goats living in a totally new space with different topography, trees, bushes and grass, they are living with different humans who have different schedules, different daily lives.  A couple of weeks time goes a long way in getting goats comfortable with their new home, in my experience.  Today is about two and a half weeks and I'm very pleased with how they are doing.

After they first arrived, it took the goats a couple of days to figure out where the shelter was and decide being in the shelter was better than being at the far end of the pasture.  Once they moved into the shelter it seemed like they never left it.  Over the next week I would see Morha and Melei more and more outside but never Star.  During this time the goat's feed bins were out by the fence and I wasn't sure Star was getting much to eat.  And then there was the rain, lots of it.  Sometimes I would find the feed pans empty of food but full of water, sometimes it was goat chow soup, so I moved the feed pans along with the pan for the beet pulp they get in the evenings into the shelter.  I was very pleased not to find 10 days worth of goat poop in the shelter indicating Star was getting out even if she only felt safe doing it at night.

By this last week several things have changed.  I now see all three girls out and about in the pasture during the day.  At first they weren't very interested when I brought the food out to them but now they come running when I show up.  Or at least the two younger goats come running.  And I've changed Melei's name.  For some odd reason I have struggled with her name.  Is it pronounced may-lee or may-lay or my-lee or my-lay or what?  And I know she is not in any way related to the horrible event during the Vietnam war, the My Lai Massacre in 1968 which invigorated the anti-war movement, but that is what I think of every time I scramble to say her name.  So now her name is Millie.  I'm not sure that goats know their names anyway.  Certainly when I call any of my other goats by name they do not react.  When I yell out "Goat, goat, goat!" they know breakfast is on it's way and all come running.

The goats have settled in enough that their personalities are showing.  Morha is the daring one who comes right up to me as I come through the gate.  She is the first to come out of the shelter and see what is going on.  When my cat Pedy came to investigate what I was doing in the new goat's pasture, Morha was the one who came running to do some investigating of her own.  What was the strange yellow creature who could slip through the fence or jump up on the top of it?

Millie is the most shy, the most timid of the girls.  She is always a step or two behind Morha and takes her cues from what Morha does.  When I went out to feed yesterday morning Morha met me at the gate.  She checked out what was in the bucket and even took a nibble.  I poured the first pan of feed and Star moved right in.  Morha pushed in between me and the shelter wall to get her nose in the feed pan also.  While she was standing there against my leg I leaned down and scratched her for a few seconds.  She didn't even flinch.  Then I poured the second and third pans of food.  Millie came up to eat out of the third pan but when I leaned down and touched her she exploded into the air and ran to wedge herself between Morha and Star.

Star is old.  Let me say that again because it informs everything about her. Star is old.  She expects and gets complete deference from both her daughter Millie and from Morha.  She is a crotchety old lady who expects and gets first dibs on the beet pulp.  She picks which feed pan she will eat out of and then Millie and Morha pick from the ones left. Or they will eat with Star if she allows them to.

Introducing these girls into my herd of rambunctious boys will be a dance.  I'm quite confident that Morha can stand her ground and will be fine.  Millie is so timid I worry about her getting pushed off the food and out of the group.  And then there is Star.  Star is strong and used to ruling the roost even at her age but she is also fragile and very old.  I'm not sure yet how I will make this work but rest assured it will be done slowly, carefully and very watchfully.  I want all the goats to be happy and successful.