When a bed is food

Eutzly has been enjoying outdoor bedding the last few weeks. We give him ornamental grass each year, in the late winter or early spring, and he both eats it and lies on it, thus making his bed his food and his food his bed. Sometimes the grass serves both functions simultaneously, as in these photos, where E is eating his bed and lying in it too.

No oral hygiene

img_4318I gave Eutzly a carrot the other day. I broke off pieces in chunks he could handle because, left with an entire, whole carrot, Eutzly would gnaw and gnaw on it, going ’round and ’round ’til he broke off a piece he could easily eat, a slow process but a challenge he happily chews.

Eutzly’s teeth are strong and sharp, fit for chewing bark, small branches, and all manner of thorny, thistly stuff, and at 14 ½ years those teeth seem good as ever. They even serve double duty because a goat is a ruminant and yucks up his food to re-chew it after hurried browsing. I posit that this behavior, gobbling food and later slowly digesting it through rumination, is a survival mechanism in the wild: eat quickly while out in the open and retreat to a haven to thoroughly digest food. Continue reading

Eutzly’s Farewell

With this final edition of The Scriptorium, Eutzly and I bid farewell to The Alliance Review. I am leaving the news business after 14 years and one month, which calls for a recap of how we came to own a goat.
We found Eutzly in September 2002 while I was on assignment for The Review at an agricultural field day in Carroll County, which included seminars and displays on alternative farming methods. I was late and was hurrying to start work, but before we made it through the entrance that irresistibly adorable baby goat, the color of angel food cake, waylaid us. Because I had to get to work we made it a short visit, but as we left we visited him again. “We don’t know anything about goats,” I said with concern when my wife began talking about buying him, but that face charmed us into temporary madness, and we ended up taking him home. The breeder gave us some hay and grain and a bottle of milk, but we couldn’t buy her knowledge of goats, so we had much to learn in a short time.

Continue reading

A week with E and C

IMG_3617After a busy day Sunday I finally enjoyed some evening animal time. Nephew Andy had spent the weekend with us and we had an active, enjoyable couple days, so I had minimal time for Eutzly and Chesapeake. Andy met me at Canton’s First Friday, where I played music at IKON Images, and he accompanied me on Saturday to the Celtic Beltane Festival in Norton and to church on Sunday. After he left Sunday afternoon I caught up on my journal writing and other paperwork, and once finished I adjourned to Goat Hill.
While Eutzly browsed in the yard, I replaced the burlap flap that covers his goat door to his pasture. The old flap had hung over that dwarf goat-size opening for several years, and its bottom edge was frayed enough that it no longer covered the bottom few inches of Chez Eutzly’s servants’ entrance. It was an easy task to replace, requiring only the removal of six screws that anchored a strip of wood that held the flap in place and hanging the new flap behind the strip of wood. After I finished I sat in the goat house folding chair and practiced mandolin. Continue reading

Goat Races and Bock Beers

I wrote about Caribbean goat races in a column in March 2005, and I’ve recently discovered goat races in the U.S., so I’m presenting a revised, expanded version of that antique piece of writing. The Caribbean races are held in Buccoo, a small village on Tobago, a Caribbean island that marks the Easter holiday with racing ruminants in a festival called Buccoo Goat Race Festival.
The goat races, along with crab races, are held on Easter Tuesday and were introduced to the island in 1925 by a native of Barbados. A Tobago goat racer said the sport developed as people raced their goats home from grazing areas. The jockeys run barefoot and hold their goats by leashes because goats, being goats, don’t necessarily run in the direction the jockeys wish to go. Considering that my knee-high dwarf goat can outrun a person — Eutzly was 21⁄2 years old when I first wrote this and is now 131⁄2, so this may no longer be true — I don’t know how the jockeys keep up with full-size goats. The jockeys, and the goats, must be physically fit sprinters. Continue reading

Not an indoor pet

I hadn’t heard this question in a long time: Does your goat go in the house?
It’s an innocent question coming from a person who doesn’t know goats, but to me it is ludicrous. I don’t mean that as an insult to the many people who have asked the question over the years — they assume because our goat is a pet we bring him in the house — but it’s clear they know little about the behavior of goats. A small mess last week provides an example.
I cleaned out the stall a week ago today. It’s a regular task for two reasons — my goat wastes a great deal of hay, lifting the hay from his manger with his head and knocking it to the ground so he can pick through it and eat what he considers the good parts; the second reason being that he uses his stall as his bathroom when he’s inside. Continue reading

Another year for Eutzly

My pronograde Capra hircus will attain a long dozen years next week. In other words, my goat will turn 13 on Thursday. His name is Eutzly, and he is a Nigerian dwarf.
I discovered the word pronograde recently in “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,” which defines it as an adjective meaning walking with the long axis of the body parallel to the ground, from the Latin words pronus, “leaning forward,” and gradus, “walking.” For “pronus” think “prone” as in lying prone, and for “gradus” think “grade” as in “step.” I found pronograde while studying the essays concerning language usage and change in the front of the dictionary, and when I learn a word with an interesting etymology I want to use it repeatedly, the way you want to listen to a song that catches your fancy again and again. Continue reading

Testing his nose

I tested my goat’s nose last night. I put peanuts in my shirt pocket and timed Eutzly to see how long before he narrowed in on the peanuts’ precise hiding place. I first fed him peanuts from a bowl, and when he finished I watched the second hand of my watch while I sat in front of him. He started sniffing around my knees and worked his way up my shirt, taking about 50 seconds to peg the pocket as the source of the smell. I fed the formerly pocketed peanuts to him, but he persisted in pestering me after they were gone, trying to chew my shirt — likely he smelt the minuscule remnants. He eventually turned to his hay for entertainment, and I read a book.