Yesterday Phil and I headed into Colorado City for a load of water. We were planning to take Finn and Sputnik with us to go for a walk around Lake Beckwith, but they were nowhere to be found. We wandered over the ridge and hollered, but the only goat to answer our call was old Cuzco! As the others didn’t seem inclined to make an appearance, and as it had been a very long time since Cuzco had gotten to go anywhere with us, we decided to take him instead.

The poor fellow isn’t doing so well these days. He’s been losing weight since the grass turned brown and he doesn’t seem to be finishing his meals lately. He had a very hard time climbing into the truck even though he was able to use the trailer as a step. The two-foot gap between the trailer toolbox and the truck tailgate seemed a canyon-wide leap to his weary old bones. Even the 15-minute drive was hard on him. He was panting when we got to the lake.

We made our way around slowly and stopped for a while to let Cuzco eat the soft green grass still lingering near the lake’s edge. Even walking is laborious these days, but he kept up and I could tell he was enjoying himself.

We took Cuzco to Lake Beckwith nearly every day when we lived in Colorado City. One old gentleman remembered and stopped to say hello. “I haven’t seen you in ages!” he exclaimed, not realizing that we moved almost six years ago. Cuzco hadn’t died or been sold or disappeared–he simply was no longer one of the lakeside regulars. I think his appearance brought a smile to the old neighborhood, and I’m sure the old neighborhood brought a smile to Cuzco. The walk brought me back to those days when Cuzco was in his prime.

He was lean and muscular back then, and my tie-dyed hat was not yet faded.

The parking barriers have been knocked down in the years since we moved from Colorado City, but back then they provided a wonderful opportunity to play and show off.

A small gap between truck and trailer may be a poser now, but once upon a time Cuzco was a lean, mean, jumping bean. I once watched him clear a six-foot horse panel from a standstill. He didn’t even scramble at the top–he just cleared it. He’s been an amazing companion, and at almost fifteen years and more close calls than I can count, I feel fortunate he’s made it this long. I don’t know what this fall will hold for him, but we may need to make a Decision before long. Naturally I want Cuzco to live as long as possible, but not at the sacrifice of his dignity or his enjoyment of life. Until we make that Decision, we cherish the time we have left.

Go T-Bolts!

Finn and Sputnik got to strut their stuff at the Rye Homecoming parade this afternoon. We’ve been busy showing goats, vacationing, and trying to keep up with life so we haven’t had time to drive them since last month at the State Fair. They weren’t as “sharp” as they were this summer, but they remembered their lessons and were very good boys in spite of the long break. We were a little late for the lineup (someone gave us the wrong information), so we had to race past a long line of old tractors to get to a good spot. The fellas were a little nervous about passing all those big, smelly, noisy, backfiring things, but with a bit of encouragement they kept up a good trot and we made it to our place behind the horses. Barking dogs and cheering, waving crowds did not faze them at all.

The team was a big hit with the locals and got a lot of cheers. It was a very short parade but lots of fun. The weather was beautiful–clear, crisp, and cool but not windy. Getting back in the driver’s seat reminds me that we need to make sure to get out and do this more often, not only because it’s good to keep the boys sharp and in good physical condition, but because it’s just plain FUN!

2016 “Goat Vacation” Day 5 – Playing in the Park

It was uncharacteristically cold and wet for this time of year in Lake City. It snowed the da after the Uncompahgre climb and we huddled in our cabin while the goats huddled in the trailer. But Saturday morning we took the goats for one final muddy walk around the park before we left town. They were thrilled to be out of their trailer despite the wet. We used a few “found” obstacles around the park for training.

Phil was just sure I’d never get Sputnik to jump through this swing. For a while I thought he might be right. Although not high, it’s narrow and it moves when bumped. But Cuzco used to jump through swings so I took a few minutes to work with Sputnik on it. It paid off.

And then there was this bicycle rack. A fun obstacle with width as well as height.

The most difficult was this weird piece of equipment. It was about 3 1/2 feet on the high side–higher than the truck tailgate which Sputnik only recently learned he could leap onto with a running start. I started him on the lower end of it using the “load up” command. Then I worked him up to the high end. He was quite proud of himself after leaping confidently onto the high side of the obstacle several times.

This front end loader attachment was a poser for Sputnik. It was a bit high and a bit wide, but mostly it looked strange and had a shallow puddle on the landing side.

I gave him plenty of time to look it over.

I would have let him climb up and scramble over if he preferred. The goal was to cross the strange object, not necessarily jump it.

In the end he opted to jump. “Good boy, Sputnik!”

Aside from being fun, the goal of these little games is to teach trust and obedience. It’s particularly important for Sputnik because he does not possess Finn’s natural, graceful agility and self-confidence. Sputnik is strong and athletic but he doesn’t know it. Every time I work him over a new obstacle he gains confidence in his ability and he learns to trust me when I ask him to try unfamiliar things. It’s making him a very steady and dependable trail partner–something I was not sure this goat could ever be with his flighty, distrustful personality.

Finn didn’t want to jump this obstacle as long as there was a puddle on the landing side. But he didn’t hesitate to climb over it.

Finn and Phil climbed up the “Lyn Lampert Memorial Boulder”. Lyn is a friend of ours who still lives in Lake City. We were able to meet up with him and a few other old friends on this trip.

Photogenic Finn.

Phil and I also practiced having our goats walk along some balance logs. Sputnik wouldn’t climb on the high one. It was slick and he much preferred to eat it than walk on it. I notice on water crossings that Sputnik generally prefers to walk through the water than try to cross a narrow log. Finn takes the log bridge every time.

It’s a photo of Finn, but Sputnik and I spent the most time on these narrow balance logs. He’s not very good at them and this was a nice place to practice since there’s no water underneath. If he slips off he has the confidence to jump back up and try again. By the end of the week Sputnik was quite adept at walking the whole length quickly and without sliding off even when the logs were very slippery with snow.

2016 “Goat Vacation”: Day 3 – Uncompahgre Peak

Bear with me because I had a very hard time narrowing my photo selection down! We took over 150 photos today and nearly all of them were fabulous! (I can’t say much for the photographers, but when the scenery is this incredible you can’t really go wrong.)

Today we hiked Uncompahgre Peak, the highest 14-er in the San Juan range at 14,321 feet. Although I grew up in Lake City, I never climbed this peak. I was hoping we’d be able to do it on this trip but wasn’t sure if the weather would cooperate. It kind of didn’t, but we took a chance and climbed it anyway.

Before we got to the trail we encountered this beautiful waterfall on Nellie Creek.

Our destination:

“Thank-you, Sputnik, for carrying my stuff up the mountain!”

Phil took a brief rest on this convenient “outcropping”.

Looking toward the summit.

Sputnik found a convenient, well-padded place to rest his weary head.

Uncompahgre peak: Getting closer!

Sneaky Sputnik! Phil needs to keep an eye on that cookie pouch!

It got very windy about halfway up. Sputnik’s ears can attest to that! The wind continued as we climbed, and as we got closer to the top I felt Sputnik had had enough so I switched the pack to Finn for the difficult final stage.

There was a very steep, rocky climb near the summit where we were really scrambling with hands as well as feet. The goats did great, but they definitely have a tendency to tumble rocks down behind them. We were not successful at keeping them behind both of us, so I went ahead and led them up while Phil followed at a safe distance.

My beautiful boy.

Almost there!

Summit achieved! Woo-hoo!

The views from the top were breathtaking.

Finn certainly thought so!

But as usual, he also thought that the best view on the mountaintop was of himself, up close and personal.

Blue sky on one side…

Clouds and rainy snow on the other. Time to head back down I think!

The descent.

“Don’t jump, Finn! It’s a loonngg way to the bottom!”

Where is Sputnik?

A tender moment.

As we neared the trailhead, the mountain bid us a final farewell.

2016 “Goat Vacation”: Day 2

Yesterday was a bit rainy so we stuck around town and took it easy. I cut a tarp down for the boys in case it rained on us but we never had to use them. Sputnik was glad. He didn’t like his tarp. He thought it was a little scary.

We walked around Lake City in the morning and then took a leisurely stroll about two miles up Henson Creek Road in the afternoon.

Phil and Finn share a moment.

We sat and watched the river.

Then we walked back into town and got some ice cream. The boys even enjoyed some free broken waffle cones! It was an easy, low-key day. It started to rain pretty hard so we put the boys to bed early and then Phil and I spent the evening playing games with some friends.

5th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Lake City, CO

Yesterday we packed up the truck and trailer, loaded up Finn and Sputnik, and embarked on our 5th annual “goat vacation”! We’re not going as far as Utah this year. Instead we made tracks to my home town of Lake City, CO. This is the first time we’ve left Cuzco at home. The old fella has been taking it easy all summer by his own choice. He would come along if we asked him, but I don’t think his heart would be in it.

The colors here this year are incredible!! The aspens are at their peak. Phil and I spent our first morning in Lake City scouting out a place to hold the NAPgA Rendy 2017.

Finn and Sputnik had fun helping us explore these potential sites. In fact, Finn was so busy exploring that he didn’t always want to get back in the truck afterwards. We had to drive away a few times before he would come running and leap in. There’s no way it’s too hard a leap for him–one time he didn’t even bother to run around back to use the open tailgate. He just jumped in over the side. I had no idea he could leap so high, but he acted like it was nothing.

We took a very short but very steep little hike down to Whitmore Falls.

Here is one of the potential Rendy sites. The boys really liked it and it’s close to two awesome trails!

One of them is the Alpine Gulch trail. It has a lot of water crossings. Finn always crossed these narrow log bridges with catlike agility. Sputnik usually preferred to walk through the water.

The water in this creek has a soft, milky blue tint that contrasts beautifully with the iron-red rocks. I loved the aspen leaves floating on the surface.

As we got further up the trail we got into a beautiful old aspen forest. The trees are at their absolute peak. The camera couldn’t remotely capture their glowing golden splendor.

“Follow the yellow leaf road, Sputnik!”

Finn attacked an aspen sapling and came back with this lovely ornament.

Near the end of our hike we encountered a big potential trail clearing project for the Rendy next year. It looks like a huge windstorm took out all these dead trees at once and buried the path.

When I was a teenager I used to rub my palms on the aspen bark and slap “Indian” handprints on my horse’s rump. Today Finn got handprints. Smile

2016 CDGA Harvest Show

We had fun at the 2016 Harvest Show. It was the 40th anniversary of the CDGA, so lots of cake this year. The girls did very well. Pepi won in her class of five Recorded Grades on the first day of the show, but the judge overlooked her in the second. The doe in third place in this photo took Reserve Champion the next day.

Nubbin was the queen of the Recorded Grades and won Grand Champion both days. Unfortunately there weren’t enough in her class to sanction so it can’t count toward anything, but we had fun. Nubbin was more interested in fighting with the other goats in her class than in setting up nicely and looking good for the judge. Here she is with her hackles raised and her neck arched as she’s about to reach for the tail of the goat in front of her!

But she took home the prizes so we can’t complain about her “cage fighter” attitude.

This was a tiring weekend for all the girls, coming right on the heels of the rather grueling State Fair. Petunia enjoyed using Pepi for a pillow.

Happy, sleepy goat smile.

All the girls did well for themselves. Petunia showed off her repertoire of tricks to an amused audience, and Pepi learned to shake hands and walk on her hind legs while we waited for our class to start. Tigerlily was very subdued this weekend. She came down with the snots and seemed tired most of the time. Pepi came down with the snots too, but not so badly. And at least Pepi enjoyed eating her vitamin C with zinc and echinacea gummies. I had to force them down Tigerlily’s throat while beating the other goats back. I’m not sure why she doesn’t like them. Everyone else (especially Pepi) wants to kill for them.

The winnings:
It was a fun show but we’re happy to be home with the show season over. Now it’s time to look forward to our annual goat vacation!

Rambo and Rocky’s Mountain High

Look who’s into campfires now! Rocky Balboa starting hanging around the campfire for the first time a few weeks ago and has spent more time at each subsequent one. We have to watch him because he tends to be a fire walker when he’s not too busy inhaling the smoke.

Ah… good ol’ Rocky Mountain high!

Rocky has to take particular care around the flames because of his extra low-hanging chins. I thought dewlaps like this only came on cows! I loosened his collar just a few days ago and it still feels quite roomy, but look at the rolls flopping over each side of it! “More chins than a Chinese phone book” is my favorite description of this fellow!

Rambo hung around the fire a lot too. I love this guy’s regal head and neck!

And his soulful, stargazing eyes. He has a royal air about him in the way he moves proudly along with his head held high.

Rocky howls at the moon while Rambo takes in the vapors.

It’s the little guys’ turn!

With Cuzco gone from the campfire, the younger generation had a chance to come in close and socialize.

Pedro wants a hot dog!

I’m not sure what the big eyes are about, but get a load of that goat grin!

For some reason Napoleon was fixated on Phil’s right elbow and wouldn’t stop licking it. Phil doesn’t look too pleased. I’m sure he’s thinking about where Napoleon’s nose has recently been. This little guy is starting to feel manhood coming on and has been poking his nose into all kinds of things we’re not sure we want touching us.

Cuzco the Caprine Fireball!

Well, it’s official: we now have definitive PROOF that Cuzco is an incurable PYROMANIAC!

Tonight he very nearly immolated himself when he stole the fire that Phil was in the process of lighting. It happened like this: Phil crumpled up the paper for the campfire while Cuzco, as always, peered over his shoulder and micromanaged the operation. Phil pushed him away and proceeded to light the paper, but Cuzco would not yield. Phil thought that Cuzco would back off when the paper was lit, but boy was he wrong! As soon as the paper went up in flames, Cuzco snatched it and took off across the yard and beyond Phil’s reach. The paper continued to burn and Cuzco refused to drop it as flames engulfed his head. Phil was afraid Cuzco’s hair would catch fire and he might set our yard ablaze, but thank goodness he finally came to his senses and dropped the fireball on the grass where Phil stomped it out.

Cuzco’s entire face is quite singed. With his blackened nose, he looks like one of those cartoon character bums with the heavy five-o-clock shadow.

All the hair has been scorched from his nose and lips and the skin is shiny but does not appear damaged. He was obviously sore because he did not come back and hang over the campfire as usual. He started to, but then he began licking his lips like the heat hurt them and he backed off and kept his distance for the rest of the evening. I rubbed aloe gel on the blackened spots after he finished his dinner (the burn did not seem to dampen his appetite).

All of the whiskers on Cuzco’s muzzle, chin, and around his eyes are completely burnt off. His eyelashes are singed, the fringes around his ears are shriveled back, and the hair on his cheeks is all burnt brown and curly. But for all that, he seems rather proud of himself. I hope this does not become a habit!

We were not able to get a picture of the actual conflagration, but Phil was able to fix up a creditable image of what it looked like:

Oh, and Cuzco’s incineration did not dampen his love of music. He ventured back over to the fire as soon as Phil broke out the fiddle.