Dairy Goat Games

Dreamcatcher Sharing Her Toys

Living with dairy goats is one of the most fun aspects of homesteading or backyard farming. The goats are extremely personable, curious to a fault, loving, engaging, and wonderfully beautiful animals. Keeping the twice daily schedule of milking a goat is a mentally balancing and even near spiritual experience. For myself, I have to say that every time I milk Dreamcatcher, my LaMancha, I find myself wondering why I didn’t start doing this years ago!

Yesterday, my friend Shirley and I drove out to the local electrical company for the acquisition of “goat toys”; those huge wooden spools that hold electrical cable and are discarded once the cable is used up. These spools are very familiar among the goat owning community, and I was both surprised and pleased to find the contractors were more than happy to give them to us for the goats. The spools come in all sizes and are incredibly sturdy. They look not all that different from thread spools, but in, of course, a far larger size.

The folks at the electrical company helped us load the spools into my van and Shirley’s pick up truck, and while the fit was tight, we managed to come home with four fairly good sized goat toys. As we drove away, my mind was racing with thoughts of both how much fun my goats were going to have with our new treasures, and what other uses I might make of spools to be obtained in the future… tables, rocking chairs, planters, benches, and numbers of other uses that had been mentioned during the loading.

When we got back, Shirley’s grandson helped us unload the new goat toys and we easily turned them on their sides to roll across the yard for placement in the goat pens. Once situated, the goats took immediate notice and were soon jumping on and off them, leaping from one to the other, and eventually enjoying the shade they threw under their table tops. It was clear the spools were an instant hit with their new owners.

Early this morning, I started the usual routine. I took the dogs out to the night time goat pen and we released the three goats into the larger yard. The two Nigerians stayed in big pen while Dreamcatcher came in to be milked with the dogs accompanying us. The big goat dutifully took her place on the stanchion and began munching her breakfast while the dogs stood around patiently waiting for the strip milk they have learned is theirs.

After the milking, I took a flake of hay out to the feeder in the big pen with Dreamcatcher and the dogs beside me. Once we got into the pen, Dreamcatcher grabbed a few mouthfuls of food, then suddenly looked up with a curious expression. I could almost see the little wheels turning in her mind as she eyed the spools in the distance, then glanced down at each of the six dogs. “I have new toys and my friends are here to play with me — Oh fun!” All at once, she took off like a shot. She headed straight for the tallest spool and jumped effortlessly on top of it. The two little Nigerians, Tinker and Black Beauty, barely noticed her enthusiasm as they busily picked out their breakfast hay. The dogs, however, gleefully ran to the spool and put their paws up on it, while Dreamcatcher looked from one to the other, acknowledging their willingness to join in the game.

Once she was sure she had all of the dogs attention, she leaped off the spool and ran back to the feeder, grabbed a few more mouthfuls of hay, then looked around at each of the dogs. Just as suddenly and quickly as she had done before, she raced back to the spool and leaped up on top of it. The dogs were right with her in the race, and once more, she acknowledged each one before dashing back to the feeder. This was a great game, and Dreamcatcher was joyously in charge. Back and forth the little group raced, stopping only when Dreamcatcher took her pause either at the top of the spool or at the breakfast bar to grab a quick bite. All eyes were anxiously on her as she orchestrated the next round, and she was clearly enjoying every second of it.

Dreamcatcher kept this racing game up for a good twenty minutes before the dogs started to tire out and lie down in the yard. Still they kept their eyes on her in anticipation, but they could see she was beginning to tire, as well. Finally the big goat called an end to the game, nuzzled a couple of her pals, and went back to eating with the Nigerians. I don’t know what little Tinker and Black Beauty thought of the whole game, but with breakfast in the feeder, they showed no interest in joining in. It was a game that Dreamcatcher created just for her and the dogs; a way of sharing her new toys with them, and I have a feeling they’ll be playing it together again often.

Watching Dreamcatcher play with the dogs and enjoying the bonding I see between them is not only entertaining but intensely gratifying, as well. This is just another aspect of what is often referred to as the back to basics experience that can only be appreciated through a day to day living with our land and our animals. With all of this to appreciate and enjoy, I would be hard pressed to understand why there are folks out there actually paying money to watch television.

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