Goat Duty Days – No Social Distance Required!

Little Bear and Rowan peeking out to say “Good Goatie Good Morning!”

These two fine fellows have been greeting me each morning with a quizzical look as I care for my fellow community member’s six goats this week. For although I was given a fine tour and took plenty of notes on how to care for them before their owners left I am sure they are fully aware that I am simply the “temporary help”, doing my best, with each placement of the hay, water, minerals, and attempt to mimic their daily routines.

At times I have helped with some of this routine goat care for my daughter’s four goats as well over the years and so it is all familiar to some extent.

However what has just occurred to me, in just a few days time of doing double duty, is that our animals continue to provide that opportunity for close contact and connection while our human connections feel the strain of “social distancing/physical distancing” as the pandemic continues in 2020.

Caring for the goats requires no mask and they love to get up close in your face, nose-to-nose, to check out your minty fresh breath (or breakfast breath!). They keep their ears perked and really listen in on your morning chatter, singing or whistling too, as you go about your chores. They are also always up for plenty of scritchy-scratches on their chin, back, and pretty much most any place on their body and can get a very relaxed Zen look in their eyes if you brush their backs long enough.

Starlight gathers the latest from this group of ducks that patrol these parts of our community meadow.

And if you are lucky, as we are in our community, there are other animals that come to pay a call routinely visiting the goats and chattering amongst themselves about the latest news in the animal world. And they are probably talking about those silly “new beaks” on the humans too. What happened to their faces? What is this thing called a mask?! Why do they stand so far apart vs. getting together like they use to circled up like a gaggle of geese?

Oh what a world!

Truly, although there is a time and energy commitment beyond house pets like a cat or dog, goats are fine companions for times like these and very appreciative of human attention.

This “granny goat” is giving gratitude for the opportunity to connect to these sweet creatures, thankful my fellow community member and daughter have taken on these responsibilities all these years, and I am so happy to be a part of their larger herd!

Time to go P.L.A.Y. with the “(grown)kids”!

Sending hugs & smiles to help light the way,

Karen ;0) ❤

In Loving Memory of CLOVER: Your Strength & Courage Will Never Be Forgotten


In Loving Memory of CLOVER


Being present with Charlotte & Starlight in the sunlight.

Often we humans become easily attached to the animals that live with us or near to us. They work their way into our hearts and make our lives all the better for it.

The animals provide us with the opportunity to be present in every moment, to P.L.A.Y. often, and frequently they show us the simple gifts life has to offer right under our noses.

Since moving to an intentional farming community our family has had the honor of getting to know a variety of animals and most especially goats.

Over five years ago a special family brought a wonderful herd of four female Nigerian dwarf goats all the way from California to begin their new adventure in a small New England farming community.

From hoof trimming to mucking out the shed, baby goats born and some bottle fed, milking goats to bringing them out to graze in the meadow it has been quite the amazing experience over these last few years. Helping to raise and care for these goats has been filled with magical moments and the opportunity to be present for so many gifts that nature has to offer.

And over time we have had to say goodbye to some of the original herd, welcome new goats as they arrive, and learn to embrace the babies for the short time they are with us and then wish them well as they find new homes.

We’ve also had moments of brief illness and long term struggles with some of the goats including Clover.

Clover required special attention and rehabilitation after an illness that left her back two legs barely functioning. She demonstrated, that along with loving caretakers to tend to her needs, her determination to be a part of the herd and lead the herd was still strong. And so she carried on as best she knew how and was always one of the first to the gate to greet folks and get her chin and head scratches.

Today Clover, the last of the original herd of 4 goats, was laid to rest with a befitting wreath made of bittersweet. Our hearts are heavy at this time with her passing. ❤ ❤ ❤

However, as with all things in nature there is a cycle of life and death, especially in a farming community, and so onward we must go. We carry our heavy hearts and turn our face to the sun and to the animals that still need our tending.

It is our good fortune that Clover’s legacy and that of the herd lives on with two offspring in my daughter’s care. When we look into Charlotte and Starlight’s glistening goat eyes all that have come before them shines through like magic as they P.L.A.Y. and carry on with the younger goats in the new herd.

And what I know for sure is that  when I see the signs of spring appearing with the passing of the seasons I will think of dear Clover, with a tear and a smile, whenever I see her namesake.

Karen

In loving memory of CLOVER – your strength and courage will never be forgotten.

 

Potluck P.L.A.Y. – Curiosity & Simple Sumac


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Time to share a bit of curiosity and my own recent series of outdoor P.L.A.Y. moments involving experimenting with Staghorn Sumac (not poison sumac) that grows quite well up in our neck of the woods.

Staghorn Sumac in late September

I had heard that it could make a great glass of lemonade if you are so inclined and provided you have plenty of sugar on hand to off-set the tartness.

And I knew that the goaties absolutely loved the leaves as I had shared some stalks of it (with permission from their mama – aka my daughter) in August.

Goaties eager to help eating the sumac leaves.

However what I soon discovered, when I went to retrieve the stalks to clean up their pen space, was that the goats also loved nibbling the bark (like deer) and munching on the red berry cones found on the top of some of the sumac sticks.

This got me to thinking . . . spoiler alert . . . about to commence P.L.A.Y.!

BTW- Cats are curious however they are not interested in experimenting in eating this “fluff stuff” (staghorn sumac berries)

What if I harvested some of the sumac trees that were beginning to encroach upon our house and also beginning to block the view for one of our neighbors AND made use of the entire harvest?

After doing some research here’s how my P.L.A.Y. nature experiment looks to date:

  • Harvest the sumac and feed to our goats and our community members goats so that they may strip the leaves and bark off of the wood.
  • Pre-clip the staghorn cone of red berries and place in dehydrator for 24 hours to store as an excellent source of crunchy Vitamin C and other nutrients that is great for all the goats over the winter when fresh forage is scarce for them.
  • Once the goats have stripped the wood set it aside under cover to dry and be used in future community bonfires at our new fire pit as kindling or logs (depending on size).
  • Be sure to take only what can be used this year and save plenty for the local wildlife that also make use of the sumac berries to make it through the winter such as birds and squirrels.

What excellent P.L.A.Y. partners – so very helpful!

To see the video of these cuties in action visit PINTEREST (HERE).


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What curiosities did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂


Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!