I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, Brownie. What I'm I going to do with you.

"Hey Brownie, how are you feeling? You look a bit bloated. Did you eat too much? Humm?"
" You look a little shaky. Could it be that you had too much to eat this morning?"
This is one of those stories that only get told when you own a goat like Brownie. He is my trouble makin' show pony and he really did it this time. I can't believe he did this but, somehow, he did.
I had gone down to the vegetable garden to take the wet trash to the compost bin. The goats heard me and came to visit. One of their fenced areas is below the garden.I talked to them and gave them each a bean from the bowl of beans that I picked for dinner. I had given them an orange peel too and Brownie didn't like the piece of orange. The others love it. Brownie wouldn't eat it. When I offered him a bean he sniffed it and then he slowly took it in his mouth only to drop it on the ground. Bart was right on it and snatched it up. I told Brownie that he was being very picky. He just looked at me.
I checked the other plants and found more beans and one zucchini. When I got to the other side of the garden I noticed that the fig tree had been nibbled on. I immediately blamed Freckles for this because I  have caught him before... leaning on the fence, reaching over and chewing at the leaves. The fence was leaning more than usual and I thought that later, when the weather cooled off some, I would have to get the Prospector out there to help me reset the metal posts and straighten the fence back into its original position.
I left the goats, and the garden, and walked back to the house. It was going to be an awfully hot day. I was glad that I had gone out early to work in the garden and water the flowers. I made a mental reminder to pick some of the little figs off of the tree tomorrow morning so the rest would grow bigger. These figs are so good and they keep coming all summer and into the fall.
I went back into the house to start a load of wash and make some more zucchini bread to take down to my family tomorrow. Maybe a half hour later, I put the pans in the oven and set the timer. It was then that  I got that funny feeling that I get when I feel something is not right around here. The Prospector was gone and when he is I'm much more aware of little things. A new sound , something changes position , the gate is latched differently. It's the awareness that comes with living in the country. It's almost a 6th sense. Well..., I felt something was wrong and I went back outside. No one was coming up the road. Everything seemed in order. Then I heard it. A small rustle and movement in the garden. I walked over to the edge of the walk and looked down . The goats were at the fence near the fig tree, mulling around. I looked again and this time I saw that Brownie was not with the other goats. He was in the vegetable garden. Now I don't know if you know about GOATS but most of them will eat anything.
I flew back into the house, closed some doors to confine the pups to the living room, grabbed a leash and some (what else) zucchini. I ran out the front door and down to the veggie garden. I opened the gate and yelled. "Brownie, what are you doing in here?"
Now, Brownie is not an excitable goat. Bart gets all emotional, Freckles is shy and sweet and Murphy, well, you know about Murphy if you've been reading my blog for very long. He's the magical goat that speaks Gaelic and dances. But Brownie is always either upset about something or not talking. He's my troubled, sometimes disgruntled, "pain in the butt" goat. As I walk through the gate he greets me like a long lost friend. He prances over to me and kind of looks like..." Hi there. Did you come to join me? I just finished off one side of your fig tree and half of your beans. Come on. I'll show you." and he walked around the raised plant bed and headed  for the corner gate where the other three were waiting.
The fence near the fig tree was leaning over and touching the tree. It was fairly obvious what had happen. They had all leaned on the fence to reach the tree and when it got low enough Brownie, Mr. Opportunity, jumped over the fence. I can't believe the others didn't jump over too. If they had, my whole garden would have been gone. Considering how much Brownie did in such a short amount of time I figure that all four goats would have had all the veggies eaten in about one hour. So what was I going to do with this 150 lb. goat? How was I going to get him back into the goat run, through the gate without the other three pushing their way into the garden?
I told Brownie to stand still. He did. I think he was kind of confused about where he was and why. Goats are rather smart in an instinctive way but changes confuse them. He acted like an observer to the dilemma and just stood there. It was kind of weird.
I went over to the gate leading into the run and threw the zucchini as far up the run as I could. Frecks immediately started eating a piece. Murph' and Bart sniffed the pieces and then came back toward the fence. I got mad. I hit the fence with the leash. I guess they thought this was odd behavior for Farmlady. If a 150 lb. goat doesn't want to move, then you have a problem. I got even madder. I took the dog leash and hit the fence next to Brownie and he bolted through the gate and into the run. Thank goodness he did. I didn't have a "plan B". I went into the run and closed the gates that go into the south field so they couldn't get near the fence that was leaning into the garden. I had effectively blocked them from returning to the scene of the crime. Brownie just stood there looking at me. I said " Don't you move." and I undid the gate to the garden and walked back in, closing it behind me.
My garden looks surprisingly good after the attack. Brownie only had time to eat every fig and leaf on one side of the tree and a major strip of my pole beans. He didn't get to the zucchini or the tomatoes... or the chrysanthemums at the other end of the garden that the goats think are a delicacy.
He looks a little bloated tonight but he ate dinner and is drinking lots of water. He seems fine. What am I going to do with this goat? He just loved being the center of attention. He's the only one whose horns kept growing back until we finally gave up and let him keep them. He thinks he is the Alpha goat and Bart has deferred to Brownie on this issue. I guess that's why he was the one to jump the fence.
When I told the Prospector about what happened he was amazed that I handled the whole incident so well. I don't know why he would think otherwise. I told him... "You just have to show those goats who's the boss." He laughed.  I think we could move on to owning cattle now. Wonder if all of this would work with that Blond '38 Chevy out there. I better keep the leash handy.

I'm going  down to see my family for a few days. I will be back on Wednesday. Keep an eye on Brownie for me while I'm gone.
UPDATE: Brownie is fine this morning.  He doesn't look any worse for the garden incident. Goats are tough. So am I, it seems. The dogs didn't eat the carpet and the zucchini bread didn't burn.


  1. Brownie, what a mischieve goat. Glad he did not get all your garden. You handled the matter very well. Have a good time visiting your family. Have a blessed day see you when you get back. Madeline

  2. Oh my, what a character Brownie is! Does this mean that you won't have to thin out the figs now?

    By the way, I wanted to let you know that I recently finished Dandelion Wine by Bradbury. Thanks for recommending it! I enjoyed every word. If it were my book instead of a library copy, there would be many underlined paragraphs! He has some very insightful messages.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. OMG I think I would've pitched a hissy fit and locked that fellow up. So what do you think is going to prevent him from doing it again? I don't envy you this predicament. LOL What will you do? Barbed wire for goats, maybe? I know they do that for cattle! I don't know- I've become a city girl.... I just shoo away the moles and stray cats. Good luck.
    xo Sue

  4. We used to have a pygmy goat named Licorice and he was our thorn in our side...always in trouble, sick often, $1700 surgery etc etc...but we loved him all the same and missed his little antics when he died...You should have called Brownie, Maria, then you could sing that song all the time.."How do you solve a problem like Maria"!

  5. My my - if it isn't one thing, it's another! Is it true that Goats will eat Tin Cans???

  6. After all that you think your nerves will get you safely down to visit your family?!??!! You'd better be careful! OR ELSE! (And have a good break from the goats!)

  7. I think you were able to control the goats in the end because you have established yourself as the Leader of the Pack. So when there was a crisis of leadership - should they behave and believe you meant that leash whacking move? Yep, they went with "wow, she really means this!"

  8. You really are a FARMLADY and you know how to show them who the pack leader is. Applause! my little dude is trying to show me who the pack leader is and he is getting flipped over on his back every time. He is persistent though. Maybe he was pretty high up in the pack. I don't think I would have so much courage with a big male goat who has a head of horns and is enjoying eating up my garden. I know they know you but you are a brave woman. Not burning the bread was a big deal too.

  9. ps I love the blueberry picture in your header. What kind of plants are they?

  10. Oh Brownie you are a bad dude! What will the Farmlady do with you? I think there's always at least one troubled goat in the herd, iso you're probably lucky it IS only one!

  11. Thanks goodness for a country girls sixth sense! That goats really keep you on your toes. xo, suzy


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