6th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – The Journey Begins

On this particular trip, the journey there and back was half the fun. We got a late start on Wednesday, September 6th and drove well into the night. Although we captured no photos, watching the full moon rise in front of us as we headed east across Kansas was breathtaking. There were windmills on the horizon and the blades cut black and sharp across the enormous orange globe as it came up.

The next day was a lot more fun for us, but I’m not sure about Finn and Sputnik. They adamantly refused to drink any water during those first two days of travel even after I added a strawberry flavor packet to it. But the days were very cool and they had plenty of hay to eat and straw to lie down in, so riding in the trailer and waiting there while Phil and I made a couple of tourist stops was not unpleasant for them even if it was somewhat boring.

The first stop was totally impromptu. I saw a billboard by the highway advertising “Moon Marble Company”. Phil began collecting marbles soon after we got married so the Moon marble factory and museum was a necessary detour. It turned out to be a wonderful hour-and-a-half diversion in which we were given a personal tour of the marble factory by the owner, Bruce Breslow.

Turns out he has similar tastes in interior decoration as Phil and I.

We got a photo of Bruce and Phil standing with some of Bruce’s personal art marble creations. Phil and I bought one to take home.

The shop was not devoid of goats either! Not only did I purchase a small goat figurine to bring home, we also saw a vintage “Old Hogan’s Goat” marble game among the museum pieces.

After our tour of the Moon Marble Company, Bruce came out to meet Finn and Sputnik.

We left Moon Marbles and drove on to Kansas City, MO where we ventured downtown (always harrowing with a horse trailer in tow!), miraculously found someplace to park, and then took a two-hour tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The pictures we took are not worth sharing, but it was an incredible display of wonderfully preserved pre-Civil War artifacts. The steamboat Arabia, loaded with merchant goods, was headed to the frontier in 1856 when it struck a submerged log and sank very quickly in the shallow, muddy water. The top deck remained above the river so no lives were lost except that of an unfortunate mule which was tied on the lower deck. The steamboat sank completely by next morning so none of the goods were ever recovered. However, the legend of the steamboat loaded with Kentucky bourbon continued down through the years and several unsuccessful recovery efforts were made before the Arabia was finally uncovered in 1988. It was half a mile from the current course of the Missouri River and 45 feet down in a place where the water table is only about 15 feet below the surface. Water pumps had to run round the clock during the dig, but the steamboat was brought to light with all its treasure intact.

No bourbon was found (it was probably on the deck so the barrels would have floated away), but many other things came to light that were still as new as the day they were packed in crates and barrels for the journey. Hundreds of pairs of boots, tools of all kinds, nails, dishes, washtubs, pickles, ketchup, preserves, perfume, saddlery, glass for windows, medicines, buttons, beads, flatware, coffee and coffee grinders, bolts of cloth, coats, hats, and even the materials for a “pre-fab” house were on the boat. All the bottled food items are still as good as when they were first put down in jars. The cotton and paper goods did not last, but leather and woolen items remained intact. It was a fascinating display, and at the museum store Phil and I bought a couple of replicas of the bells that were found among the Arabia goods. They have a very pleasant, cheerful ring and are the perfect size for goats to wear.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Well, we were so busy we didn’t get many photos today, but we had a great time! First off was the much-anticipated Chariot Race.

There was some confusion as to where the race was to be held. The program said we would race in the “Kid Zone”, which was on the baseball field and the historical location of the race back when it was still run. The lady in charge, on the other hand, said we would race in the horse arena. Phil and I were pretty skeptical about that–the arena had panels set up and was full of cows and hay and a lot of cow pies, and horse arena footing is not suitable for driving goats at speed. We were game, but we felt it would be “the world’s slowest chariot race” if we ran (or plodded more like) around the horse arena.

After a bit of back-and-forth, Phil and I suggested we run on the smooth gravel road behind the arena. It was a nice straightaway–not too short, not too long, and the packed footing was excellent for goat hooves and smooth rolling for chariot wheels. Because of the confusion we did not get a huge audience, but the folks that were there cheered enthusiastically.

It was a tight race. Sputnik got off to a faster start and led from wire to wire, but finished by only a neck. With a bit of hollering from Phil (er, Thor), Finn kicked into gear and began to overtake Sputnik about halfway down the track. I hollered at Sputnik with little result, but as Finn began to sail past us I tickled the tip of Sputnik’s tail with my finger and he put on an extra little burst of speed to maintain his lead across the finish. It was a good race. It probably helps that I’m a good 25 lbs. lighter than Phil.

Sputnik and I with our First Place trophy.

Phil and Finn with their Second Place trophy.

And although it’s completely unrelated to goat chariot racing, we had to put this one in here for Uncle Steve. Phil totally rocked this pink tractor, wouldn’t you agree?

After lunch, Phil and I harnessed Finn and Sputnik up again so we could do cart rides for the kids. The goats were a huge hit, and between them they hauled around somewhere in the vicinity of 140 kids. We posed for a lot of photos this afternoon, and the boys were ver patient. They never balked or complained or got cranky. I wish I had photos of the cart rides because we had Finn and Sputnik’s horns done up in striped wraps, but we were much too busy to take photos of each other.

I hear there will be a video of the chariot race available soon, and when that comes out I’ll make sure to post it.

“World’s Greatest Goat Parade”

We made it to Tennessee early this afternoon and had time to put the finishing touches on our costumes and chariots. I tidied up Finn and Sputnik, and we got harnessed and hitched just in time for the “World’s Greatest Goat Parade”.

Phil made a magnificent and imposing Thor.

I was Juno–a Greek goddess who typically dressed in hunting garb.

There were also a dozen or so of these colorful dudes in the parade. Sputnik about had a heart attack when he saw them. Goats are NOT supposed to be this color! I had to get out and lead him partway along the parade because he kept trying to turn around and stare at them.

This right here is what made it the “World’s Greatest” goat parade. CUTENESS OVERLOAD WARNING!!

Old MacDonald Had A Chicken-Goat…

… E-I-E-I-O! (More on that later.)

We just got back today from three days of Colorado State Fair fun-ness. For us, the fair kicked off with the most important classes of the weekend. We started off with the timed Obstacle Course run. Phil and I were the only people who brought packgoats to the event, so we decided to do it up right and have our goats compete with crossbuck saddles. It turned out that no one knew who was in charge of setting up the obstacle course, so there was a last-minute scramble to try to round up enough oddball junk laying around the barn to create some makeshift obstacles. We ended up with a pretty good little course, but I was disappointed that there was no kiddie paddle pool. Phil and I had worked with our goats over the summer so they would be experts at this daunting water challenge, but there was no water on this course. The closest we got to water was having to cross a coiled up garden hose.

The first obstacle was the most difficult for us. We had to lead our goats under a table, and while most dairy girls can walk under and barely duck their heads, our boys were substantially taller than the table even without the crossbuck saddles. Several people asked us how we were going to do it and I figured that was a pretty good question. Sputnik showed everyone how it should be done. I crawled under the table so he would know where I wanted him to go, then I said “Repent, Sputnik!” He obediently dropped to his knees, and when I gave the command to “Grovel” he crawled forward in the kneeling position. Hooray for trick training!! His tall rump bumped the table as it passed under and for a second he lifted the whole thing up and I thought it would tump over backwards, but he dipped his hindquarters just a little and squeezed under. The rest was easy. We jumped a broomstick lying across two chairs, walked over a wooden plank thing with steps in it (improvised from a strange old table that was lying upside-down near the arena), crossed the garden hose, jumped onto two metal stanchions in a row, then from a wooden stanchion onto a tarp, and through some alfalfa bales.

Finn went next, and he had more trouble with the table. He didn’t want to crawl under it and he looked as though he might leap onto it instead (very easy for Finn but it would have been disastrous for the table!). After a bit of balking, one of the other competitors ran out and lifted one end of the table so Finn could run under without ducking, much to the amusement of the audience. He completed the rest of the course in record time.

Most of the goats besides Finn and Sputnik had trouble with the broomstick jump. It was no higher than your average stanchion, but most of the girls stopped and stared at it like, “What them heck am I supposed to do with this?” Almost every one of them had to have their front legs lifted over before they would jump with the back. My second entry, Jezebel, was the rare exception among the milking does. She stood straight up on her hind legs and leaped over like a jackrabbit. She cleared it by about a foot, which drew many cheers from the audience. Speaking of the audience, we had many spectators at this obstacle event. Some of them dared their friends to try leading a goat through the course, so then there were gleeful goat owners rushing back to their pens to retrieve goats for these people to compete with. It was hilarious and great fun was had by all.

Here I am with my two winning entries. Because of the ease with which she navigated the table obstacle, Jezebel came in with a faster time than Sputnik.

Phil took Finn and Tincup through the course. Tincup has formed a strong attachment to Phil and follows him everywhere. Finn follows Phil everywhere too except under tables apparently.

After the obstacle course, Phil and I raced to get into our costumes. Disappointingly, there were no kids entered in the costume class at all this year, but in a surprise twist we did have one other adult competitor! This is the first time any other adult has competed with Phil and I, so naturally we were tickled pink. I keep hoping one day the costume contest will actually become a big event because it sure is fun!

Phil and Tinny went as Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. It’s hard to see, but you can just make out the “hair buns” tied to Tinny’s halter. And yes, the goat is wearing a bikini. Apparently she has no sense of shame–she strutted right out there in this thing and seemed proud to wear it.

Sputnik, on the other hand, was NOT proud of his costume. The words that first come to mind are “patient” and “long suffering”. I stuffed my poor goat into a hot, itchy chicken suit so he could be Old MacDonald’s chicken-goat (E-I-E-I-O, with a cluck-baa here and cluck-baa there, etc.). The legs are my favorite part, although there is a lot to be said for those ridiculous, unwieldy wings. I had to turn them sideways to get in the gate. I can’t believe Sputnik actually put up with this level of stupidity, but his tolerance paid off. Our costume won first prize and we came away with a big jar of M&M’s, which Sputnik couldn’t get enough of. All I can say is that no goat was ever more deserving!

We didn’t win many prizes this weekend, but Phil had fun showing Tinny. Her udder, although large and very easy to milk, is lacking in the area of attachment.

But she was commended for her long bone pattern–something we prize highly in our herd.

I must also add that Tinny seemed to have more fun than anyone at this fair. She loved watching the endless stream of people walking by, and she adored it when they would stop to pet her. She spent the majority of each day craning her neck over the pen and begging for attention. She spent a lot of time with her front feet up on the rails so she could reach even further, and this never failed to catch someone’s eye and bring them over to give her loves.

Eclipse Madness

There was a solar Eclipse last week and it’s about time I posted the photos! Phil tells me there was some speculation among folks on Facebook about what animals would do during an eclipse. Some even wondered if they should get eclipse sunglasses for their dogs. I wonder if some folks maybe ought to not own animals.

As you can tell, our animals were completely terrified of the sudden dimness. They went into a feeding frenzy in a vain attempt to stifle their utter terror.

Nubbin is horrified by Pluto’s failure to wear doggy eclipse glasses. Everyone knows that goats with their horizontal laser pupils can stare unblinking at the full noon sun, but dogs will go blind during an eclipse and ought to take more care to wake up from their naps and put on eye protection.

Tinny demonstrates the famous caprine eclipse-staring ability.

Little Coral was overcome by “eclipse madness” and began to levitate.

King Finn takes to his podium to calm the frenzied crowd.

On the human end of things, Phil rigged up a cardboard projector by duct taping our binoculars to a tripod. We only had about 90% totality, and since the day was cloudy I wasn’t sure we’d be able to see much. But the clouds were often thin enough to give us a view, and the projector was good enough we could still see some sunspots and watch the clouds drift across the image on the paper.

In fact, the thicker cloud cover gave us the opportunity to view the eclipse directly and get photos of it without a filter.

The light across the valley took on an eerie hue, almost as though a huge thunderstorm was brewing. Apparently our house will be right smack dab in “the zone” for the total eclipse of 2045. Supposedly that eclipse will have six minutes of totality! As even this 90% eclipse was pretty nifty, I’m eager to see what a full eclipse is like.

Chariots of Fire!

The chariots are coming together! I bought some heavy sheet plastic from an online motorsports site. Now we just need to add decals!

This is the dead-end circle where there are two big, noisy, ferocious-looking dogs behind an invisible fence. Sputnik had a meltdown last time we drove here. This time he went round the circle like a champ! Finn did very well too.

What a handsome trio!

Everyone went very well the whole time and we had just turned to head back to the truck when something startled Finn in a big way. Phil and I were driving side by side when Finn suddenly bolted with a loud snort. This spooked Sputnik and both goats took off like a shot, almost leaving Phil and I behind on the pavement. Good thing neither of us was standing up in our chariots! Our goats “huddled,” escalating the situation into a full-blown Hollywood-style chariot race. When goats panic they form a tight bunch and run shoulder-to-shoulder. Well, that’s what Finn and Sputnik did and of course our chariot wheels locked. There was a loud ripping noise of tire scraping tires and an acrid smell of burnt rubber as we raced full-tilt down the street. Had it gone on much longer we might have started smoking! However, we managed to stop before the tires were damaged and then we had to get out and unlock our wheels. We led our frightened charges for a while until they calmed down and their breathing became less frenzied. I’m not sure what set Finn off. There are bears in those woods, but we never saw one.

We get a lot of stares when we drive around town with this crew in the back!

Finn loves his buddy Phil.

A wonderful thank-you surprise!

I got a REALLY COOL gift in the mail today!

It’s a Marc Warnke “kid pack”!! Tigerlily thought she’d model it for us today. It fits her perfectly! It will be so much better than the dog pack she’s been wearing (and which is really too small for her).

“I do look wonderful in this pack, don’t I?”

It also fits Sputnik (barely). The cinch *just* stretched around his enormous grass belly. This will be the perfect pack to take on little short trips and day hikes. I’m so glad it works for a full-sized goat.

And so the rut begins…

Anyone remember these tiny, adorable little cuties?

Yeah, me neither. Last week, as though someone flipped a switch, they went from slightly musky and still pet-able to burn-your-nose hairs stinky and I-don’t-want-you-within-ten-yards-of-me. With rippling swaths of muscle, they no longer bear much resemblance to the snuggling, huggable creatures we brought home last year in April. They’re still very friendly and they don’t understand why the last thing I want to do is touch them or let them rub against me!

I’m not sure what happened, but Rocky’s skin has somehow grown about twice as much as the rest of him, so he looks more like a Shar-pei than a goat.

Rambo, on the other hand, gets more regal all the time.

Rambo is proud of his ladies.

Nubblets’ first outing

Since rain was in the forecast this afternoon, Phil and I took our hike this morning. We chose the Greenhorn Trail, and–who’s that peeking at us from behind Finn??

Why, it’s Tornado and Storm!! Yep, we decided to bring a couple of the Nubblets for their first hike today! These two are going to a new home together once they are weaned and we want to make sure they are at least introduced to the idea of hiking. This was their first time away from their mama and brother and there was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the beginning. They had a tendency to lag far behind crying, and then eventually race to catch up when they realized we weren’t coming back for them. I found that it was quicker going if I kept one of them on a leash so they would keep up.

Tornado and Storm even had their first experience crossing water. I’m not sure they learned anything except, “It’s wet”. I had to drag them each across one at a time. There was very little voluntary walking. They could have followed me across on the stepping stones (my feet stayed dry!), but instead they preferred to use the rocks to brace themselves against the pull of the leash. This usually ended with them sitting down in the water and getting not only their feet but also their bottoms wet.

And now it’s Storm’s turn.

Finn demonstrated one way to cross without getting wet. The Nubblets did not follow his example I’m afraid.

We got sprinkled on during the hike, but not enough to make us wet. The big rain didn’t start until around 5:00 this evening–just in time for Phil and I to get soaked putting everyone to bed.

Sputnik goes to Beulah

Phil and I were invited to bring goats to the Beulah Arts & Crafts Fair again this year so we brought Sputnik and the cart. To keep things simple we opted not to bring a whole entourage this time. Besides, Finn has been amusing himself recently by rubbing his body and especially his face all over our bucks, who just came into full stinky rut during the past week. Sputnik has been rubbing them too, but not nearly the extent that Finn has. I felt that Sputnik would probably clean up pretty well with a single bath, but Finn would likely take several washings to get rid of the pungent reek around his head. Sputnik loves to get a bath, so the choice was easy.

We didn’t get many photos, but Sputnik was a good boy for most of the afternoon. He began to sulk as the afternoon dragged on and got hot. He couldn’t have been tired–the work wasn’t that hard–but he felt that the world was not quite fair to him and started balking when I’d lead him off with a fresh batch of kids. We quit soon after that and I let him graze for a while before we went home. And miracle of miracles–we did not get rained on! I must also add that Sputnik seems to genuinely like children. He enjoyed having them come up and pet him after a ride, and he even shook hands with one girl repeatedly despite the fact that he was obviously bored of the trick. He’s a good boy.