Poor, brave little sweetheart. I’m so sorry you had to pay so dearly for my mistake. I will never forget your little pink nose and your kind, patient eyes. You were always the brave one–I’ll never forget pulling you off that cliff you climbed down! You weren’t even afraid of Cuzco! I know he’s going to miss you. You were the only goat he liked. You two loved to butt heads together–the closest dignified old Cuzco ever got to playing.
You were such a sweet goat. You were not outwardly affectionate like Lilly–you were always more reserved–but you had a gentle, uncomplaining, and simple nature that made you easy to be around. You were the most patient of our goats, waiting in the back while everyone else got fed first, then coming to get your portion when it was your turn. You never complained about being last. I fondly called you “Sweetness.”
Motherhood mellowed you. You were a good mother. You never worried or fussed over your baby, but you always protected her. I wish you could have had more. I can remember you when I look at Nubbin. She doesn’t look much like you in most ways, but she does have the same striking black and white markings on her belly and the same bustling little waddle. You always looked like you were going somewhere important to take charge of the situation. Phil and I will miss your funny, purposeful march when we take our walks. Forgive me, dear Nibbles.
I made a terrible mistake tonight–a mistake that cost poor, brave Nibbles her life. I cannot sleep and so I write…
Phil and I were heading to bed around 10:30 when we heard coyotes howling near the house. I suddenly realized I had forgotten to turn on the electric fence when I put the goats to bed earlier. Phil went out to switch it on. When he opened the door, the coyotes sounded very close–much closer than usual. I went on the porch and I could see two of them slinking through the horse pasture in the moonlight, not far from the lower edge of the goat pen. Phil shined a light into the pen to check on the goats, but he did not see Nibbles among them. I threw on a bathrobe and slippers and joined him to look for her.
Phil found her lying at the bottom of the hill next to the fence. Brave little goat–she had gone down to protect the others. She had fought with the coyotes through the fence. I’m not quite sure how they killed her. Other than a couple of very minor punctures, she had only one wound on her throat from which she lost only a little blood. I suppose there could have been more internal bleeding than we could see, or perhaps she died of the shock. She was cold when we found her. I’m not sure why the coyotes had left her without eating, but I’m glad they hadn’t started. We took her back to the house and put her in the garage where she couldn’t attract more predators.
I fixed the fence in the moonlight. Then I sat and comforted little Nubbin, more for my own sake than for hers I think, and I reflected on what I had done. I’m horrified that I neglected such an important detail. We are fortunate that we only lost one goat. I know that anyone who raises animals is going to lose them eventually, but Nibbles is the first, and it was untimely. Most of all it hurts that it was my own fault.
My first photo of Nibbles: May 20, 2012
My last photo: December 6, 2013
Too short, baby. We won’t forget you!
No photo from today’s festivities, but boy was it fun! Phil and I took a jaunt down the road to the neighboring town of Beulah this afternoon for their annual Yule Log festival. Apparently it’s the second oldest in the country, having been celebrated continuously since 1952. The special log is hidden in the woods and when the bugle is sounded, everyone charges off to find it. The first person to find the yule log hollers “HALUEB!” (Beulah spelt backwards) and the victor rides the log as it is dragged to the pavilion where the log is sawn in two. One half is burned in this year’s Yule fire and the other half is saved to help start next year’s fire. The finder is toasted with wassail and everyone sings carols, eats cookies, and drinks wassail around the Yule fire. I’d heard about this event for several years but always after the fact. This year I was determined not to miss out and marked the date ahead of time. I’m so glad I did! This will doubtless become an annual tradition for us.
Of course, no tradition is worth celebrating without goats! Phil and I took Nubbin and Petunia since they are still small and easy to manage and because it’s high time they started getting out by themselves and getting used to crowds and dogs and cars. Turns out they have no problem with any of those things, although one of the dogs was about to wet himself in his excitement over seeing a goat for the first time. His owner never could get him to calm down in the two hours we were there even though Petunia came right up and introduced herself to him. The kids loved the goats and gave them as many cookies as they would eat. It’s a wonder they didn’t both go into a sugar coma.
By far the best part of the day, though, was the hunt for the Yule Log. The moment the bugle sounded, the goats leaped into action and charged ahead, straining at their leashes like bloodhounds on a scent. Phil and I were dragged over hill and dale as they plunged through the snow, heads down, ears pricked, tails wagging. It’s like they knew everyone was looking for something and they were going to be the first to find it! Unfortunately, however, goats do not make very good Yule Log trackers. They took us on a wild goose chase where we found many nice logs, but none of them the right one. However, I don’t think the goats realized that they weren’t the victors. They excitedly joined the happy, cheering throng that accompanied the log as it was dragged in jubilant celebration back to camp. Once there, they were treated to more cookies and attempted to treat themselves to wassail. They were petted, fussed over, and photographed by everyone. We were told we would have to bring them back again next year. You can’t have a proper nordic Yule Log celebration with out goats! The goat is one of the most important traditional symbols of the Scandinavian Christmas. I can’t believe they’ve left Yule Goats out of their celebrations for this long. We shall have to remedy that in future!
Since it’s Christmas time, I think it’s appropriate to remember Cuzco’s first Christmas in Colorado and the first time we put him to work. I think he actually really enjoyed hauling our tree off the mountain. He pulled it about a mile to our house. For the first time in his life, he did not get reprimanded for forging ahead and straining against resistance.
If this cold, snowy weather keeps up, we could actually have a good winter this year! We’re incredibly sick and tired of drought. If we get lucky, I might even have to break out Cuzco’s earmuffs. I noticed frost around the edges yesterday, but Cuzco didn’t seem too concerned about that. He just wanted a cookie. And to be allowed inside by the fire.
It’s a good morning to reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Cuzco still had TWO horns.
It’s about time I posted some new glamour shots! We took these on the morning of October 16. We had 14″ of snow that morning! This is the sight that greeted me in the morning. I really have nothing in life worth complaining about, do I?
Petunia fit perfectly in Nibble’s blanket from last year, and like Nibbles, she kept it neat and clean. I guess “like mother like daughter” does not apply in this case–Lilly was always a disaster with blankets.
Nubbin, on the other hand, takes after Lilly and always gets at least one foot through the neck of her blanket no matter how much I cinch it down. Go figure!
Nibbles yawns in the morning sun.
Cuzco licks the snow off his nose.
I tried to get Petunia to go sledding with me. It didn’t work out so well, but we had fun anyway.
It’s hard to get going with this many goats on your lap!
We just bought two round calf hutches from a PolyDome dealer in our area and I couldn’t be more pleased! These are the perfect size for goats (even extra-big goats!).
What happened was we had a wind storm last week and the heavy wooden goat shed that Phil and his dad built for Cuzco a few years ago took flight and landed about 30 feet away on the other side of the fence. It broke apart and I’ve yet to survey the damage up close because it’s in the middle of the oak brush and I’m going to have to go in there with a chain saw and tractor to retrieve it. So I was suddenly down to one shed for five goats and we all know that only one large and in charge fellow is going to occupy it.
I went to Craigslist and saw an add for a PolyDome dealer and found out he was delivering some to another person right up the road! When we got home with the shelters, a blizzard had set in and Phil and I had to get them off the truck and up the hill to the goat pen. We thought it would be a hassle in the dark with the slick ground and blowing snow, but we turned the shed on its side and simply rolled it up the hill and into the goat pen!
The domes are seven feet in diameter and five feet tall–more than big enough for Cuzco (and several others if he didn’t insist on keeping it all to himself). It has no corners, so when Lilly or someone happens to wander in, Cuzco can’t pin them. They simply run around the the wall until they get to the door. And speaking of the door, it has a lip about a foot high that keeps wind and snow from blowing in and bedding from spilling out. It’s a wonderful design! And best of all, when you’re transporting them on your truck, it looks like you just came from Area 51!!!!
Turns out that storm we unloaded the hutch in was serious. It snowed 14 inches before morning and we woke up to this on October 16. Good thing we bought that new shelter when we did! See it under all the snow?
Phil and the goats – into the slots.
Nubbin is her usual adorable self.
Cuzco, the fearless leader shows the younger goats the proper way to head home from a hike at the end of the day. I’m not sure there’s much to it, but Cuzco takes the job very seriously, as he does with everything in life.
Petunia makes a great silhouette with those ears.
The sunset on the way home from Willis Creek was amazing. This hasty shot snapped from the truck window does not do it justice.