Saturday, November 04, 2006

Goats v. Tractor

People often ask me why we got goats in the first place. Pygmy goats do not seem like a natural pet choice for 2 former urban sophisticates such as me and Marty.

I explain that the goats aren't pets, they are functional. I explain about our 2 acres of pasture and the fact that goats are good at keeping pastures down. I explain that Marty's parents, who inhabited this property before us, used to have upwards of a dozen goats who did just that. I explain that the alternative to goats was to buy a tractor, and frankly, the goats were a whole lot cuter.

Of course, everything I've just said is a big bunch of goat pellets.

Elvis and Ann-Margaret are terrible at keeping the pasture down. Whether it's because they are too little (although Elvis is not so little any more); whether it's because there's not enough of them; whether it's the fact that they are spoiled with twice daily servings of Goat Chow and all the animal crackers they can eat; whether it has something to do with the fact that they seem to enjoy eating tree bark and dead leaves more than grass. I don't know.

But whatever it is, we have to have our neighbor drive down from the top of the hill and bushhog our pasture with his tractor every few weeks.

As far as the role that Ann-Margaret and Elvis play in the Paris family dynamic, they are pets and we treat them as such. I suppose if I had 12 goats roaming the pasture, I wouldn't feel so attached to any one goat. But after all of the goat drama we've been through, Elvis and Ann-Margaret are survivors and I love them for it. They are no doubt members of the family, and for the amount of time and effort (not to mention the vet bills) that go into them, we probably could have gotten a dog.

Of course, the goat drama never really ends with us. They are both sick again. Worms. And Elvis has Coccshidia. This is a worst case scenario as Coccshidia requires twice daily doses of antibiotics for 4 - 7 days and Elvis is difficult to catch. I remember thinking when Ann-Margaret had Coccshidia over the summer, how grateful I was that it was her and not Elvis, as she was easy to grab, hold and squirt in the mouth with her meds.

Not so with him. For Elvis, after the first dose (which the vet was there to help administer), Marty and I relied on mixing the meds in with some food. We'd crush up cookies, add a little Chow and stir in the antibiotics. This worked twice, but Elvis fast caught on that something was up and has since refused to eat any tainted goods.

While I could handle Ann-Margaret on my own, Elvis is a two man goat. And the likelihood of Marty and I both being awake, home and mentally prepared for the task of catching and holding Elvis - not once, but twice - during daylight hours is slim to none. Frankly, once is a stretch.

This leaves us in a bad spot with no obvious or pleasant solution. I am hoping that our being out of town this weekend will leave Elvis so hungry for cookies and Chow, that he'll eat whatever we feed tomorrow when we get home.

On top of the antibiotics, I've got to worry about the 3 doses of dewormer he'll need in 3 days, and Elvis has recently been grooming Ann-Margaret obsessively which is probably an indication that he's getting ready for a roll in the hay.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...