4th of July Festivities

We drove our team in the 4th of July parade in Westcliffe again this year. They are a huge hit wherever they go, and this year we felt more prepared than we did last time. The boys are a lot bigger now and the wagon looks downright comical behind them, but we don’t have the money right now to upgrade to something more appropriately sized, so we simply decorated the heck out of what we have!

Phil drove for the actual parade while I threw candy for the kids. Check out Phil’s awesome America t-shirt – “Back to Back World War Champs”!

Just before the parade, a lady from the alpaca group ahead of us gave me some festive bandanas to tie around the boys’ necks. They truly completed the look!

Funny side note to this event–Sputnik LOVES baths! I discovered this when bathing him for the parade last year, but I’d forgotten about it. For a goat who generally dislikes being touched, it surprises me how much he enjoys being scrubbed and sprayed. I use warm water, but even so, most goats cringe and brace themselves when I turn the hose on them. By contrast, Sputnik stretches, closes his eyes, blinks blissfully, and puts his head right under the sprayer. He doesn’t like his ears sprayed, but his nose, his chin, his cheeks, and between his horns are all favorite places for me to shower him. He likes to put his lips on the sprayer and drink the warm water even if it goes in his nose and makes him sneeze. He loves having the shampoo and conditioner rubbed in and rinsed out. The longer it takes the better. He even loves being toweled off afterwards! What a silly boy he is!

Finn and Sputnik: Driving Instructors

Before the Rendezvous weekend, Phil and Kate and I spent some time hanging out in Lake City where our Australian friend Kate got to practice driving our team around town. They cut quite a dash on those quiet village streets!

Kate was a quick learner and drove very well with minimal instruction.

How embarrassing! This is what happens when Sputnik spits out his cookie and then changes his mind and wants it back.

Looks like his front legs sank into the road.

This is more like it!

Last month’s kids

It’s been too long since I’ve posted any kid pictures, and already these are quite outdated, but here ya go!

Westin and Coral

I’m keeping this little gal. I think Coral may be the nicest kid we’ve had yet, and she certainly has the prettiest little face of any kid born here to date. In fact, in my totally unbiased opinion, she may have the prettiest face of any kid I’ve ever seen.

Baby goat party under the stairs! They’re now too big to sneak into this little hideout, but for a few weeks this was the favorite place for all the cool kids to hang. They loved looking down from their high perch and best of all, no grown-ups allowed! We’re calling Nubbin’s triplets the “Nubblets”.

Storm has the distinction of being the first kid sold this year. He’ll go to his new home along with Sox in August.

Pretty Miss Coral. Tell me that’s not the cutest little face in the world!

Westin had a milk goiter when we came back from the Rendy. It’s hard to see  in this picture and unfortunately it went down before I could get any more photos, but the wattles made him look like he had an udder on his neck!

Rendezvous Climax – Uncompahgre Peak

On the final day of the Rendezvous we climbed Uncompahgre Peak. It was perfect weather for our hike, and wildflowers dotted the landscape. This woman, Kate, came all the way from Australia for the Rendy and since she couldn’t bring any of her own goats with her, she adopted Tigerlily for the weekend. Tigerlily carried a few of Kate’s things in her little pack and she did great! 

We had to cross a lot of snow in the basin below the peak. It was soft, deep, and heavy and presented a real challenge for the big goats–especially the ones carrying packs. Goat toes are great on rocks, but terrible in snow. They sink straight down and can get no purchase so they wallow as if in quicksand. We felt bad for them so we tried to avoid snow as much as possible, but often there was no way around and we simply had to help and encourage them as best we could.

Finn really knows how to strike a pose!

Finn and his best pal, Phil.

Goats look so at home on this type of landscape.

Phil and I with Finn and Sputnik at the summit.

Finn showed off along the cliffside just like he did when we hiked this mountain last fall.

Like father like daughter.

“Please don’t jump, girl!” Tigerlily and Finn both gave me heart palpitations as they cavorted as close to the edge as possible.

Sputnik is more sensible. He preferred to spend his time resting up a safe distance from the precipice.

There is a 360-degree view from the top. Tigerlily wanted a peek through the binoculars.

Eventually even Finn took time out for a rest before we headed back down.

Just me and my three.

My faithful companion, Sputnik. He’s turned into a good, sensible packgoat. He’s not particularly athletic, but he gets the job done and he doesn’t shirk or complain. He also blends in perfectly with these rocks, so it’s a good thing I use red packs!

I had charge of Sputnik and Tigerlily for the somewhat treacherous boulder descent. I tied her to Sputnik’s saddle because she kept chasing and trying to smack one of the baby goats who accompanied us on the hike. Sputnik was steady. He kept Tigerlily in line without power tripping over it.

And then there’s Finn. Finn is flashy, athletic, and a major go-getter, but unfortunately he knows it and he has an alarming tendency to show off in dangerous places. Take this precipice as an example.

This pinacle was near the bottom of a steep boulder field which we had to scoot down on our bottoms. We had to go one at a time and keep our goats close to avoid rolling rocks down on each other. Phil and Finn reached the bottom and Phil let go of Finn to let him find his own way down for the last bit. Instead, Finn took a detour so he could pose regally on this rock outcropping. Then he wouldn’t come down! I suppose he wanted everyone to take as many photos as possible. He stood there a long time while Kate scooted down the boulder slide behind him. Apparently Finn was so busy posing and taking in the view that he didn’t notice Kate until she was right behind him. He caught sight of the legless Kate-monster slithering down the slope behind him, panicked, and instantly took flight–literally. He sailed off the front of the outcropping, which is a sheer drop of about fifteen feet onto a very steep scree and boulder slide. Between the size of the drop, the steepness of the landing, and the weight of his packs, Finn’s hind end very nearly overtook his front end and he came terrifyingly close to somersaulting head-over-heels down the mountainside. Yet somehow Finn landed the leap without flipping or catching a foot between any boulders. He skipped on down the trail like it was nothing, but I’m pretty sure I have more gray hairs now than I did before that hike!

“Yeah, Finn. You’re awesome until you’re not, buddy. Please don’t kill yourself trying to demonstrate how cool you are!”

The 2017 North American Packgoat Rendezvous, Lake City, CO

The first day of the North American Packgoat Rendezvous dawned clear and bright with a nice breeze to keep things pleasant. Trucks and trailers began rolling into the campsite before noon and people spent most of the day setting up their camps. There were people gathered from at least ten different states plus Hawaii and Australia!

The second day was more organized, with several educational classes presented. Phil and I taught one on harnessing, hitching, and driving goats. Finn and Sputnik were excellent teachers.  

One of the celebrities of the Rendy was the elusive, reclusive John Mionczyinski, known as “the father of goat packing.” He rarely attends these events so it’s a real treat when he shows up. He has a vast wealth of knowledge and experience and he loves telling stories. Listening to John’s stories was a highlight of the Rendy. 

John has an old squeezebox and has composed many “goat songs” which he likes to play near the campfire. 

Tigerlily wasn’t quite sure what she thought about it, but the rest of us sure enjoyed the music!

Phil brought his fiddle and gave us some music as well. Another fiddler named Jenny also attended this year, and she and Phil played many duets. They played so well together that most people in the crowd were surprised to find out that they had never met or played together until that evening, and that they hadn’t even practiced beforehand!

My friend Jordan came with her young packgoat-in-training, Geronimo.

Next morning, we loaded our goats and a sizable work crew into a few trucks and headed off to do some repairs on the Alpine Gulch trail. 

Finn carried a few tools, but mostly we left his panniers empty so he could carry rocks. Part of our goal was to rebuild a forty-foot section of trail that had been washed out by the creek. We rerouted the water and repaired the trail by hauling rock from a nearby mine tailing dump to fill it in. Finn hauled several 70-lb. loads in his panniers that day!

After we repaired the trail and blocked off the alternate route people had made, we spent the rest of the time building log bridges over the creek because the old ones had washed away. The creek was near peak runoff, so we got pretty wet! Finn and Sputnik really showed their bravery when it came to crossing the water. Other goats balked, but my guys went right over. Sputnik plunged into the fast-flowing, freezing cold, chest-deep creek, but Finn preferred to cross on the narrow log bridge we had just built. It was wet and slippery, and with his packsaddle on he almost lost his balance, but with a little encouragement he was able to make it without falling in.

Rendezvous – Eve Day: The Preparation

First thing Wednesday morning, we packed up the goats and headed to the Rendy site at Snowden Meadow, some five miles south of Lake City up the Henson Creek road. Pike Snowden’s cabin looked a little lonely that morning with no campers on-site yet!

The road to Snowden Meadow leads through the old Ute-Ulay mine. At one point there was a sizable town perched on the edge of this narrow canyon, and there were two different attempts to dam Henson Creek. Both dams blew out shortly after being built and no one tried to tame the river again.

I had fun making these little Rendy packgoat signs!

That afternoon, Kate and I took a little trip to Lake San Cristobal–the lake from which “Lake City” derives its name. Believe it or not, this little pond is the second largest natural lake in all of Colorado! It’s also a fairly new lake, having been formed by a landslide some 700 years ago.

Gearing up for North American Packgoat Rendezvous 2017 – Lake City, CO!

Many thanks to our friend Kate from Australia for letting me use her photos to make my posts. I slacked off and didn’t take one photo all week!

Phil and I picked Kate up at the airport in Colorado Springs the weekend before the Rendy and on Monday we loaded up and headed over to Lake City. We rented a small cabin and spent a couple of days enjoying the picturesque little town and visiting old friends that I grew up with there.

Our goats cut quite a shine in my hometown as we walked them through the park, drove them with their wagon down the streets, and chauffeured them to the market in the bed of our pickup.

Whose are these handsome faces in our rearview mirrors?


We originally planned to bring only Finn and Sputnik to the Rendy, but Tigerlily was still recovering from the trauma of losing her first kid and the mastitis that followed afterward. She needed to be milked 2-3 times a day and my milking help at home could only come in the morning, so we brought Tigerlily with us. I felt that the change of scenery would do her good, and it did. She also got quite a lot of sympathy from two sweet girls we met in the park.

The Hartman family has owned the San Juan Soda Company since I was a little girl. I grew up with the Hartman kids, and eventually they started having their own kids. Everyone chips in to help run the soda shop in the summer. It is the epitome of the “family business.”

The Hartmans have preserved the original old bar with its bar stools and they serve ice cream in what looks like a proper old-fashioned drug store.

I had a fun time holding three goats and an ice cream cone and trying not to lose all four of them.

The Hartmans generously offered our goats as many broken waffle cones as Phil and Kate could carry away. While this photo makes it look like Finn is the hog, it was actually Sputnik who ate inhaled most of them, beating back all competition and daring them to come any closer.

And the whole gang’s a-comin’!

ALL the babies are old enough to go for walks with the big goats now! Altogether we’ve got sixteen wild and wooly goats charging around us like racehorses. That’s a lot of flapping ears!

Nubbin’s kids are starting to hold their own with their big, rowdy older cousins.

Nubbin’s crew had their first walk this past weekend.

I think they had fun. “Fly Tornado! Fly!”

Bouncing back

It’s been over a week since Tigerlily lost her baby, but it seems like an eternity. The poor girl had a rough time with a retained placenta, lots of penicillin shots, and finally a bout with mastitis, but hopefully she’s now on the mend. Thinking back, I’m glad I had a little time to hold her baby. We dried him off and cleaned him up well and I was able to cuddle him for a while. He looked asleep. He was so pretty! A beautiful red bay with roan spots with a little white tip on his tail. And he had one wattle. Just one. It was adorable. Phil said he was too cute to be allowed, so God had to take him back. I said he’s going up to be with Cuzco, who is probably giving everyone in heaven a really hard time by now and needs something to distract him. Cuzco always hated baby goat season and timed his exit perfectly (so he thought). Apparently he’s not getting off so easy! Now the one-horned Wonder Goat has a little one-wattled sidekick to keep him occupied.

After Tigerlily lost her baby, Jim spent much of the next day with her. He petted her, talked to her, comforted her, offered her treats, and just generally kept her company. She appreciated it. It was a hard day for everyone.

In the sadness over losing a kid and the work of trying to nurse Tigerlily back to health I didn’t get around to posting our recent photos. It’s good to look back over the last couple of weeks and see how much happiness we are blessed with. There is truly a lot more joy than sorrow around here!

While Jim and Lois were in town we had a baby goat party on the couch and watched the movie, Artois the Goat.

Lois bonded with Sox on the “rox”.

There are plenty of babies to go around!

My parents visited while Jim and Lois were here and my dad got goated! “Get him, Tornado!”

My dad doesn’t hold baby goats, so I made sure he at least got a few kisses.

My mom was in love with little Coral and kept singing “White coral bells upon a slender stalk…”

Phil and Jim and I took turns holding two of Nubbin’s babies on the back porch that afternoon. Jim bonded with Tornado while Phil and I took turns holding Storm

Storm is the friendliest and most curious of all our kids this year.

HollyDot Derby Prep Race

My in-laws were in town and we had a great time taking the boys out for a drive around the golf course! Finn and Sputnik were on their best behavior. Jim drove Finn without any help at all! Lois, on the other hand, preferred to let me do the driving while she enjoyed the view.

There was a palpable Ben-Hur spirit in the air. There were several times along the route where our drivers got competitive and encouraged their charges to pass.

Contestant #1 – “Jumpin’ Jim” and “Fiery Finn”:

Contestant #2 – “Lopin’ Lois” and “Speedaway Sputnik”

“AAAAND THEY’RE OFF!”

“Speedaway Sputnik blasts out of the gate to take a three-length lead over Fiery Finn!”

“They’re around the clubhouse turn and Fiery Finn has closed Speedaway Sputnik’s lead! It looks like Sputnik’s leader is starting to flag! That early burst of speed has taken its toll!”

“Into the homestretch and Finn flies around Sputnik on the outside to take the rail!

“And Fiery Finn crosses the finish line to win by a length and a half! What a race, ladies and gentlemen!”