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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lessons on Character.....from Spiffy the Goat.

Meet Spiffy and Spy, the latest additions to our mini farm.  I had grand ideas about bring home a milk
goat, provided by my dear friends, and her jumping straight into the stanchion , eager to be milked! HA! Goats may be simple minded but that does not mean they are dumb!  We built our pen, we built our stanchion, all was ready and beautiful.... I went to my friends house the morning of the pickup, milked multiple goats, including Spiffy, to sharpen my skills before the grand moment when I would milk her on my own at home.  It went well.  I loaded her into the crate in the back of my Yukon, K held Spy in her lap in the back seat.  I brought them home, put them straight in their pen with super yummy alfalfa and grain to help them adjust.  I put down a ton of straw bedding...my first mistake...you don't need a lot...and they will pee on it...immediately...oh no not in their goat yard....in their bedding.  Okay, moving on.  My girlfriend told me to pick up just plain ol' grain.  I heard regular cob...not sweet cob.  Oops....lets just say Spiffy was less than impressed.  So the next morning it was the big moment...my first milking, solo.  I was up and ready...supplies ready the night before...teat dip, check....cleaning solution...check....milking pail...check.  That was about as smooth as it would get...I opened the pen door and she just stared at me...like "what do you want me to do  lady.." So I wound up dragging her to the stanchion....she stared at it...so I picked her up and set her on it...to which she promptly jumped off.  Okay, round two...this time I picked her up and forced her head into the lock. At this point her patience and mine were gone.  I filled the bucket with the not so impressive cob, to which she immediately knocked of the stanchion....an accident I thought, so I picked it up and put it back....down again....hmmmm so I tied it to the stanchion....to no avail she still knocked it down.  Oy...note to self by over the rail bucket. Okay, finally time to milk....or so I thought, lets just say I had to hold her up with one hand and attempt to milk with the other...remember I am a novice here.  I couldn't even get  the bucket under her...i basically manhandled her and milked straight unto the stanchion.  It was one of the most frustrating experiences in a long time!  To top it off she had diarrhea! I called AW near tears.  I didn't understand...at her house she jumped right in, let her milk happily...what was I doing wrong!?!?  So here is where I learned lessons on character from, of all things, a goat.  I tend to force things, make them happen....not always a good quality.  This goat was just removed from her heard, brought to a new home, and then expected to perform with no training (or re-training) what so ever.  I remember when AW had moved her stanchion and all her goats were confused, they are a creature of habit and routine.
So day two comes around, sure enough, she is not happy.  Since last time she was forced onto the stanchion she was ready for a fight.  I came out and talked to her gently...(I also picked up the right grain so that helped). She would not budge and she had to be milked...my frustration grew, and grew, and I wound up picking her up again and the fight was on...she stomped she kicked....she shuffled..She even sat down..she threw the grain bucket on the floor.  Oy...Okay back to the store for the right bucket....and another couple days of this and I was done! I was ready to do what all the other blogs say to do with a "bad goat." Hobble her, strap her to the stanchion etc....But I remembered what my dear friend said.  "Make it a good experience for her...she'll WANT to be up there."
The next milking I took Spy with me, slowly wrestled her into the stanchion, now up to this point she was refusing even grain! If you know goats, they love their grain.  I put Spy up on the stanchion and let him nurse for a second...I could instantly see her relax.  I quietly removed him and put him in the pen next to us.  I quickly sat behind her and tried to milk...oh no!  She began her dance.  I backed off and pet her and talked to her.  Picture a grown women, all by her self, talking to a goat.  "I WILL milk you Spiffy...it has to be done."  I began again, she sat one me....but i would not stop.  There was no bucket I just milked straight onto the stanchion.  She had learned that if she danced around enough I would give up.  It had always been a battle of the wills and I may be stubborn but not as stubborn as a goat!  I just kept on milking away! A comical sight I'm sure, a goat sitting on my arms as I milk away. The next day, I did the same routine, put Spy on the stanchion and let him take a quick sip.  But this time...oh sweet joy this time she let me milk, as long as I was talking to her.  It seemed to calm her...and to be honest made me less timid...I mean come on, how can you focus on being timid when you feel crazy enough to have a conversation with a goat!  So I talked away, prattled on and on.  Oh to be a fly on the wall right.  The next day, I went out, put Spy straight into the pen and started talking to Spiffy, by this point I wasn't having to lift her into the stanchion.  She was still a bit timid, and a bit prancy towards the end...it was taking me a good 15 minute to milk her out.  She even pooped in my milk a few times..I just kept on milking as if she hadn't done anything. (We didn't drink that milk)  She knocked the bucket a few times with impatience.  But, now with practice I finish milking before she even finishes her grain.  It became a race for me!  And now, when I open the pen...I can't keep her OFF the stanchion.  She gives a a quart and a half of sweet yummy goodness every morning.  This June we'll get a half gallon and a quart daily when Spy weans.  And yes, I still talk to her while I'm milking...or just pray a loud. The kids ask to come out with me, and yes its good for them to learn, but sometimes  I say no, so I can have a moment to voice my thoughts with out eager little ears around.
Moral of the Story: Force is not always the answer, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness and Peace, are Fruits of the Spirit for a reason!  Spiffy showed me where I was lacking in these areas.  Not just with a goat, but in life...with my kids, my husband, and those around me.  Lesson well learned, thanks Spiffy.


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