Friday, June 3, 2011

My Goats Beat Me!

From time to time, I relish listing all my wounds! Currently, I have 3 band-aids on my hands. One is a nasty mosquito bite (I can't resist scratching!) Another is a random gash from farm work. I am so accustomed to pain that I did not even realized I had injured myself until I saw blood pouring down my finger. The third is from a particularly aggressive chick who decided my hand looked like food! (Dear Chicks, I am NOT food! Sincerely, The Goatherd.) I have a jagged scratch on my big toe from climbing a fence barefoot. Apparently, I NEVER learn that roaming the farm barefoot is not smart. I have a bruise on my right leg from colliding with a feeder while trying to catch a goat. Finally -- and most impressively -- I have large bruises on my left leg from an unintentional mishap with my buck, Boyo K. Harrison.

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to posting pictures of cute baby goats, without discussing the imminent dangers of working with livestock. It is an absolute fact that baby goats are the cutest things ever! Yet, it is also a fact that they are livestock -- not companion animals. Their nature dictates their personality. Even the most pleasant goat is a goat, and the bigger they are the greater the risk is for the human.

Boyo was actually a bottle baby. He grew up with me as his replacement "mother" and is thus quite used to humans. Typically, I would advise against anyone keeping a bottle baby as a buck. I have endeavored to train Boyo that I am the "alpha" in the barnyard. It is adorable when a baby goat jumps up on your legs . . . it can be dangerous if a 150 pound buck goat does this. I have trained Boyo to recognize my authority, and I am grateful to have a buck with a good demeanor. Boyo's father Dexter Manley and his grandfather Mr. Knightley were both very aggressive. I had less experience with fullsize bucks then and was often intimidated walking into a pen with those males. I have sworn that I will no longer have anything on the farm that I cannot trust. Boyo, however, is calm and responds very well to his owner.

Despite this favorable personality, accidents happen. Boyo is now roommates with Mojo of Middle E Performance Horses & Goats (check them out on Facebook!) Mojo is a strong, handsome man -- and is currently going through Katherine's Goat Taming School. On Memorial Day, I went into their pen to give them grain. This is something that makes them very excited! They are animals, though, and that excitement is displayed through aggression. As I poured the grain in the feeder, Boyo walked up immediately next to me. In just a moment's time, I quickly realized he had walked up in such a way that my leg was in the curl of his horn. Then, when Mojo approached to tussle with Boyo for food, my leg became collateral damage. It was probably trapped for just a few seconds, but by the point I extracted it, my calf was already turning red with damage. My leg was swollen that night, and was displaying brilliant colors by the next morning!

As it happened, I had my annual dermatologist appointment the following day. My grandfather had skin cancer (basel cell carcinoma) and my mother fought a brave battle against the melanoma that eventually claimed her life. Skin care is a very serious matter to me. PLEASE, take care of your skin! Skin damage from the sun is a wide problem in the farm community. I am naturally pale, so I rely on long sleeves, hats, and sunscreen. This is the Goatherd's Public Service Announcement: do not tan! It isn't worth suffering from melanoma just to look "summer-bronzed"! And be sun-smart: my mother was not a sun worshipper, just someone who spent a LOT of time outside!

My dermatologist is a super nice lady, and was recommended to me by my mother's oncologist. It is a good thing she knows my line of work, because she always comments on my injuries. As she started my exam, the doctor commented on the little bruise from the feeder collision on the front of my leg. "Just wait until you see the ones on the back of my leg!" The doctor was amazed, and reported them to the nurse for inclusion in my file. I am fairly certain that doctors have to be mindful of such things, for fear of potential domestic abuse. All I can offer is that I do suffer . . . my goats beat me!

Photo Caption: Craig the Cat helps me show off some of my lovely bruises!

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