All posts by Nan Hassey

Welcome 2021, or “Kids, Don’t Try This at Home!”

I know a lot of folks are happy to escort 2020 to the door, but Phil has been saying that 2021 will saunter in, look back at 2020 and say, “Here, hold my beer!”

The first week of 2021 certainly proved exciting for me! In almost 42 years of life I’ve never once had to visit the emergency room, so this past Thursday night was a momentous occasion.

What happened was this:

See this lovely, sweet, innocent creature?

His name is Pepperjack and he really is a very good horse. He turned two this past summer and I started riding him in October. He’s been as sweet and kind and obedient as any horse could possibly be and has never offered to misbehave. I’ve been riding him bareback in the cold weather because he has a lovely, wide, warm back with nicely padded withers. His spine is nestled down in a divot with large, soft rolls on either side. He’s the perfect bareback horse!

It was around 3:30 on Thursday and since I don’t feed until around 4:00 I thought I’d hop on for a quick jaunt. I have a long, sloped driveway and we were about 1/3 of the way down when Pepperjack started to trot. No big deal, but since he’s such a youngster he definitely has difficulty slowing down or stopping when he picks up speed on a downhill slope. I pulled back in hopes of slowing him before he got rolling too fast. Well, just at that moment my other horse Dusty, who was very angry to see us leave, took off with a tremendous, snow-flinging buck on the other side of the fence. It spooked Pepperjack and he bolted down the driveway. There wasn’t enough room to turn him in that narrow space between fences, and when I pulled on the reins, instead of gathering his weight onto his haunches, he just leaned on the bit for balance. Since I had no saddle and we were going downhill, every time I pulled on the reins I ended up pulling myself up toward Pepperjack’s neck, which threw his weight even further forward. Gripping tighter with my legs also made him run faster. It was a no-win situation. I was very worried about the patches of ice we had to cross. I didn’t move a muscle on the slick spots for fear of making him go down.

We were rapidly approaching the end of the driveway and I wasn’t sure what to do. If we went straight across the road we would hit the barbed wire fence. Our driveway has a bit of a left hook at the bottom so I figured our best bet would be to veer left and try to keep running up Clennin Road. If we could make the turn we’d have a level runway and even some slightly uphill road where we could recover our balance and hopefully stop. Also, Dusty wouldn’t be able to keep encouraging us to race because the bottom of our pasture has a lot of brush, rocks, and trees that would force her to slow down. I thought it was a good plan so I looked and leaned left in preparation for a sharp turn at high speed.

Problem was, Pepperjack didn’t get the memo. For one thing, he was on his right lead so he wasn’t really prepared for a sharp left turn. For another thing, there was a ditch of water at the bottom of our driveway which I think fixated his attention. Instead of turning, he kind of jolted in a straight line. It was too late for him to stop at the water, but it sure made him look and since by that time I was fully committed to a left-hand turn, I had no hope of staying with him. I flew off to the left and if I’d just let go I think it would have been an easy fall. I hit feet-first and rolled over, but unfortunately the accident didn’t end there. I was clutching my reins so tightly that I forgot to unclench my fists when I fell. Pepperjack kept running and I got dragged right underneath his flying hooves. My head and back got pummeled all over and unfortunately I got dragged primarily on my face like you see in the cartoons.

Pepperjack came to a screeching halt at the barbed wire fence about the same time that I remembered to let go of the reins. I was laying in the ditch on the opposite side of the road from where I’d fallen and I nervously took inventory. I felt pretty banged up–especially my head (thank goodness I was wearing my helmet!)–but I was alive, I was conscious, and nothing seemed to be broken. In fact, once I got up I was surprised to discover that I wasn’t seriously hurt at all except possibly my face. I was bleeding rather profusely from my left eye. When I forced it open I could still see but my vision was blurry (probably from all the blood I assured myself). I caught Pepperjack, who was standing next to me looking even more shaken up than I was. I believe both of us were thinking, “What the heck just happened?” I led him back to our driveway, scooped up a handful of snow, and plastered it over my bleeding face. The snow turned red almost instantly and I had to get a fresh scoop. In fact, I had to get several fresh scoops before the bleeding subsided.

I didn’t want this experience to be the one we ended with, and since I wasn’t seriously injured I hopped back on Pepperjack and we walked up the road a ways. He was a little rattled, but going on about our original business as though nothing interesting had just happened seemed to calm him down pretty quickly. I knew I needed to get home though. My left eye was rapidly swelling shut and there was still blood dripping from the corner. I rode back to the bottom of our driveway then got off so as to avoid another mad rush if Dusty tried to race again. Besides, I needed more snow. My face was numb by the time I got back to the house and the bleeding had slowed to a trickle. I put Pepperjack away and got the goats into their pens. I knew Phil would be off work about this time and we could head into Pueblo as soon as everyone was fed.

I took off my helmet and it was cracked across the back. I guess I’ll be needing a new one! It’s always sobering when you look at your broken helmet and realize that could have been your skull. I’ve had that experience more than once and I almost never throw a leg over a horse without a helmet any more. When I finally looked at myself in a mirror I was both worried and relieved. The blood was coming from a deep split at the outside corner of my eye, but the eye itself looked ok. My vision was still blurry on that side but the eye appeared undamaged. I suspected I might have broken my eye socket (a suspicion that later proved true), and I was also concerned that I might have swelling and/or bleeding in my brain. I grabbed a bag of frozen corn and a cold, wet washcloth. I went upstairs to get Phil who was still in a meeting with one of his coworkers. He looked at me and when I took the bag of corn off my face he turned white as a sheet, stammered something unintelligible to his coworker, and switched off the computer. He wanted to call an ambulance but that was out of the question. It looked nasty, and yes we needed to get it checked out, but there was no huge rush. I had both ridden and walked away from this accident and I was still alive half an hour later. We did chores and headed off to the hospital where they did a CT scan and confirmed that there was nothing seriously amiss. The doctor stitched the split next to my eye and prescribed antibiotics to prevent a sinus infection from the broken eye socket.

When they asked me, on a scale of 1-10, what my pain level was, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to honestly reply that it was only a 2 or 3. It really wasn’t too painful–nothing compared to the pain when I tripped over a rock on Thanksgiving Day and landed thigh-first on a tree root. That was more like an 8, and I still have a large, hard, numb knot on my thigh from that accident. Nevertheless, a nurse started dispensing pills into a little cup and she said, “I’m going to give you some drugs for the pain.” When I asked what drugs, she replied, “Tylenol and hydrocodone.”

Hydrocodone!! Seriously?!? I had just told her that my pain level was 2 or 3–not 12!! I declined the medication. Tylenol does nothing for me and I don’t care to find out what hydrocodone does. Besides, who wants to pay hospital prices for pain meds? I had Aspirin and Ibuprofen at home and I could wait that long.

So I have a beautiful shiner that will provide a nice conversation piece for the next week or two.

However, in order to avoid grossing people out, I have adopted a pirate patch for those times when I venture out in public. Yaaarrrr!!

Last night it felt appropriate to watch this movie:

After watching Rocky I decided I’m really glad that 1.) I did not break my nose, 2.) I do not wreck my face for a living, and 3.) No one had to slit my eyelid open with a razor blade!

9th Annual “Goat Vacation” – Day 1: It’s About Time!!

Now that our annual “goat vacation” is a good 2 1/2 months behind us, I’m finally going to chronicle our adventures. At least, I’ll get started. Let’s hope I eventually have time to finish!

Like many things this past year, our goat vacation was a little up in the air. We weren’t sure when it would happen or for how long, but at least we knew where we wanted to go. Ever since she was born, our friend Herb was smitten with little Butterfly, and after she got hurt he fell in love with her even more. We knew Butterfly would probably never be a good breeding prospect and Herb wasn’t interested in breeding her so his home was a perfect fit. Herb was also interested in possibly buying Butterfly’s brother, George. Traveling out to visit Herb in Ferron, UT seemed like the most logical place to plan our vacation, but our dates were uncertain. With my dad in the final stages of cancer it was hard to plan anything and we didn’t want to be out of town for more than about a week. We ended up with a vacation at the end of September and it worked out perfectly for all of us. We loaded up Finn, Sputnik, George, and Butterfly and struck out for central Utah.

We arrived mid-afternoon in Ferron and had time for an early evening walk near Herb’s house. Herb had two kids about the same age as George and Butterfly and the babies had fun getting acquainted. Herb wasn’t sure whether he wanted to buy George. He had just bought two kids in the spring and was maxed out on goats. However, I couldn’t bring Butterfly alone on a long trailer ride with just Finn and Sputnik for company. Butterfly and George were fairly inseparable and I thought at the very least George should come along and keep Butterfly company during the trip and help her settle into her new home even if I ended up taking him home with me at the end.

However, it quickly became obvious on this short introductory hike that George would be staying. Not only was Herb delighted with him, but none of us realized how attached Butterfly and George were to each other, or how much Butterfly relied on her strong, fearless brother to give her confidence. When they were first born, Butterfly was the bold, strong one but breaking her pelvis changed everything and now that the kids were away from their mother, George became Butterfly’s protector. It was obvious that George was aware of his sister’s injury and he took his duty toward her very seriously. Herb’s German Shepherd, Luna, kept coming in for a sniff, but George would have none of that! He kept himself between Butterfly and the dog at all times and whenever Luna approached them, George would snort and warn her off with an aggressive foot-stomp. Twice he lowered his sharp little horns and gave Luna a smack in the side. I’d never seen a kid that young be so aggressive with a strange dog. Luna quickly learned to stay away. George also put himself between Butterfly and Herb’s goats. He didn’t want any strangers messing with his sister!

Everyone’s hackles were up on this hike!
Herb’s goats, Oscar and Felix, stared suspiciously at the newcomers.

Butterfly stared suspiciously at Herb’s dog.

George was ready to take on all comers. He made sure no one messed with him or his sister!

Phil just looks good standing in front of hoodoos in the sunset light.

Summer Daze

I have done an absolutely dreadful job of keeping this blog up-to-date this summer and to my faithful readers I do apologize.  It’s been an exciting summer and we’ve enjoyed these nine kids very much, but I did not get as many photographs as I usually do. In fact, most of them will fit right here in one post!

Little fuzzy-bottons, Butterfly, George, and Zelda all in a row at the end of May.

Zelda!!

Little pipsqueak Skipper at just a few days old. I love those wattles!

Coral is a proud mama. And I’m not sure how she does it, but even at three years old she still looks like a baby herself.

Baby scout. He looks a lot different now at three months old!



Sunflower is one of our most adventurous and outgoing kids. Here she is at about a week old, boldly introducing herself to Snowball.

Zelda adopts an interesting sleeping posture! Can this be comfortable?
 

Sonic definitely looks comfortable here! And he also looks a little like Jabba the Hutt.

These goats look dead.

“Just checking.”

George and Butterfly have always been very close.

Little Ziggy is the sweetest of them all. And since she is also the smallest, it means we were able to pick her up and cuddle her a lot longer than the others.

Scout came up on the porch and enjoyed the swings one afternoon.

I love the markings on this guy’s face!

Their biggest fans…

I have been very remiss in my blogging duties this summer. Our local saddle club has been going gangbusters since mid-May and when I’m not doing horsey things I’ve preferred to spend my time hanging out with the little kidlets and enjoying their company and watching them grow and play rather than taking pictures of them. It’s been a good summer and one of the highlights was when Phil’s Uncle Steve and Aunt Marianne stopped by for a brief visit at the end of June. Steve and Marianne are two of Goat-O-Rama’s biggest fans and most faithful followers.

They came bearing gifts of pizza-flavored Pringles. Whenever there is food involved, the big boys immediately rush to the front of the line. 

Pizza Pringles are a dangerous thing. Marianne was quickly overwhelmed. Funny how just two eager goats can look and feel like a tidal wave of horns and hooves and noses when they are as big as these two!  

Phil and I rescued Marianne and dragged Finn and Sputnik off to the pen. They’d hogged enough treats. Sadie is always up for goodies and she is more Marianne’s size. 

“I can haz more Pringles?”

We took a seat on the rocks and were immediately inundated by the younger set who were still somewhat small enough-ish to climb on laps.  

The other kids eventually drifted off, but Sonic is our most outgoing kid and he couldn’t get enough of Steve. The chips were sort of interesting…

… But it’s people that hold Sonic’s fascination. 

Sonic loves a good conversation. 

Add a hat to the discussion and the entertainment possibilities are endless!

I could still pick the little monster up at the end of June. 

Little Ziggy’s Big Drama

Tigerlily might be beautiful to look at, but she’s a very disappointing mother. After we greeted her new kids, Phil and I went back to bed and monitored the new family through the goat-o-scope. We immediately noticed something unusual. Tigerlily was no longer interested in her babies and was in fact running away from them! Every time they toddled eagerly toward her udder, Tigerlily would flee to the far side of the shelter. Phil and I watched her for a while with growing discouragement. She wasn’t savaging the the babies, but she clearly wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, she kept calling out the door as if looking for me. The bond she’d formed with her kids had transferred to me when I came out to visit.

Tigerlily started taking interest in her daughter again by mid-morning, but she wanted nothing to do with her son. On the other hand, Tigerlily was very bonded to me and kept fervently licking my arms. I managed to trick her into licking her boy by holding him in the crook of my elbow, hoping that by licking both of us she might come to accept her baby again. It worked! By next morning Tigerlily was nursing her baby boy but she’d utterly rejected her daughter. This time there was no changing her mind, so Phil and I had to hold Tigerlily several times a day so her little doeling could nurse. She’s such a confused mama!

We ended up naming the chunky buckling “Major Tom” and the tiny wisp of a doeling “Ziggy.” Ziggy immediately began associating Phil and I with a meal and within a few days she was running to us every time we called her name. Since Tigerlily was not aggressive toward Ziggy, we felt safe leaving them together. Ziggy happly bounced along behind her mama and big brother and seemed in no danger of getting left behind.

We were wrong…

When Ziggy was five days old, I went out to feed her lunch and Tigerlily was on babysitting duty. She had Ziggy and Tom with her along with the three other late May kids, Sunflower, Skipper, and Scout. The rest of the goats were nowhere to be seen. I thought Ziggy would stay with the other four youngsters and I didn’t worry when I watched all of them trotting off into the brush with Tigerlily.

About two hours later I went out to check on the goats and I found a pile of babies curled up in a corner of the house with Tigerlily still watching over them, but little Ziggy was not among them. I didn’t worry. We’ve lost a few kids before and usually they’re within 100 yards of the house curled up in some cranny behind a rock or woodpile. I hunted around calling Ziggy’s name but she never appeared. I looked in all the usual places and a few unusual ones but she wasn’t there. I started getting nervous. She was such a tiny baby and her tan color would allow her to blend in almost anywhere. Still, I hadn’t searched long and I had to run to town on errands so I turned the search over to Phil when he was done working for the day. I thought surely he’d find her before I got home.

When I got back almost two hours later Ziggy was still missing. Phil had searched high and low but there was no sign of our tiniest little baby. I rejoined the hunt and we took our search further afield. Tigerlily was no help at all. Most mama goats will help us look if they lose their kids and often they have a rough idea of where they last saw them. But although Tigerlily seemed vaguely aware that she was missing something, she wasn’t distraught and she certainly had no interest in helping us look. We called and called, hoping Ziggy would call back, but listening for a baby goat cry was problematic. The birds were making a racket and the ranchers next door were moving cattle so the din of cows mooing and horses whinnying drowned out everything else.

We took a brief break for dinner and put the goats to bed. Dusk was falling and I hoped that as the light died, Ziggy would start to get nervous and call out. The birds had settled down for the night and the cattle and horses next door were finally quiet. Perhaps we might now be able to hear Ziggy. We took several more circuits around our property but we had no luck. It was almost dark and I was in despair. How could our tiny baby survive the night alone among foxes and coyotes? I finished my final round and waited on the back deck for Phil to finish his. I didn’t have much hope. I could make out Phil’s dim silhouette climbing the hill behind our house and he said nothing. My heart sank. He had not found Ziggy.

But as Phil trudged closer to the light cast from the back porch, my heart leapt. What was that tiny parcel tucked into the crook of his elbow? It was Ziggy! I raced down to meet Phil and cried tears of joy as Ziggy wriggled happily in his arms. She didn’t seem to know what all the fuss was about. Phil had found her way down beyond the pond at the edge of our property line. Phil had been walking along calling, “Baby goat! Baby goat!” as he went. Suddenly he stopped. Was that a small voice answering him? He called again and this time there was no mistake. Ziggy was calling back. Phil walked toward the sound and then he heard Ziggy rustling through the thick brush next to the trail. He could not get to her through the dense growth, but he kept calling as Ziggy struggled through the thicket toward the sound of Phil’s voice. Suddenly she burst out of the undergrowth and straight into Phil’s arms. We’d been searching for six hours and we were exhausted, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. Our littlest baby was safe at home again.

Anniversary Surprise!

June got away from me and here we are in July with no updates about our little goat herd or its last two additions which were born on May 29th, which happens to be me and Phil’s anniversary. Tigerlily was due on May 25th, but I had a feeling she’d make us wait. She has a history of going well past her due date and this can be a real problem if she’s carrying a single large kid. This time, however, I felt confident that she was carrying two so I allowed her to take her pretty time about it. I also had a feeling she was going to kid in the middle of the night so I made sure to lock her in the shed with the goat-o-scope so I could keep an eye on her.

Sure enough, around 3:30 in the morning I awoke to see Tigerlily tenderly licking and caring for two new babies standing on wobbly legs and searching for the milk bar. They were almost dry and looked as though they’d been born about two hours earlier. Phil and I watched them on the camera for about half an hour before we decided to go out and dunk umbilical cords and see what we had.

We’re not sure what order they were born in, but we had an almost 10 lb. baby boy and a 6 lb. baby girl. Both were two-tone chamoisee and the girl had a white face with the cutest little pink nose. Tigerlily did a great job delivering them and cleaning them up all by herself. Phil and I spent 20 minutes looking them over before we headed back to bed, but we managed to snap a few photos.

Tigerlily says, “Look what I’ve got!”

Tigerlily loved both her kids and had cleaned them up well, but she seemed especially interested in the little girl. Keep that in mind because things changed dramatically over the  next 24 hours.

Proof positive that Tigerlily did in fact voluntarily feed this kid at one time.

Cupcake was very interested in the new arrivals. In fact, Cupcake is always very interested in everything having to do with our herd dynamics and is one of the sweetest and friendliest goats I’ve ever seen. She greets everybody and never picks a fight or acts pushy. She is almost universally liked by every goat in our herd despite her low status on the “goatem pole.”

A Family Visit

My brother Tim, his wife Heather, and their two daughters Nora and Ivy came for a brief visit near the end of May. They were hoping to be there when Sadie, Coral, and/or Tigerlily kidded, but they held out another couple of days. No matter! There were loads of other babies to play with!
Ivy was very excited to meet the goats! Finn and Sputnik came in close to see if there might be cookies involved, but when they discovered there was no food in the offing they moseyed along. They’ve met little kids before.

Nora was determined to hold a baby goat on her lap. One problem: the baby goats are big and Nora’s lap is small. Zelda, our dedicated lap addict, was the only one who really tried to make this work.

Nora quickly realized that it was much easier to forget about holding the baby goats and just let them sniff and be friends.

Butterfly showed Nora how to nimbly navigate a steep hillside.

Rita was convinced that miniature people are extremely dangerous. She kept running as far and as fast from Nora and Ivy as she could. I had to catch her so we could bribe her with cookies. She ate the cookies, but I’m still not sure we won her over.

The horses harbor no such suspicions of little people, and the offer of food is welcome from any hand that extends it. Dusty loves kids and is very gentle and careful.

Pepperjack doesn’t have much experience with kids yet, but he’s a gentle, quiet horse and looks like he’ll be a good one for teaching riding lessons someday.

Sunflower

Little Sunflower has turned out to be the liveliest baby of all this year. This little gal hit the ground running and she hasn’t stopped!
Sunflower’s mother is a worried first-timer who had a tough time keeping up with her little one at first. Sunflower kept eluding Sadie and sneaking off to play with the big kids. After about a week, Sadie eventually gave up and if you ask her where her daughter is, she gives you and exasperated look and would probably throw her hands in the air if she had them. But we don’t really have to ask where Sunflower is because she’s always in the thick of things–smack dab in the middle of the crowd of kids and usually playing hard with the biggest, roughest, wildest ones.

I was able to get a few shots of Sunflower by herself when she was a day or two old. Since then she’s either been a black blur in the middle of a crowd of kids, or she’s been a little black ball curled up sound asleep.

It was this face that made me think of the name Sunflower. The black with white stripes reminds me of a sunflower seed.