Sunday, March 02, 2008

What a Week!

It's been an epic week with our little menagerie. It started when we brought Lucky out to the pasture for her first "supervised visit" with the other goats and Dixie. I was afraid that after several weeks of living the cushy life in the house, she would have lost her edge but such was not the case. She was quite the little aggressor bucking up at all of her little siblings, sending them running back to their mamas, and even trying to take on Nugget!

Then on Monday I began the process of repairing my relationship with Dixie. I will take a step back to say (in case I didn't originally) that when we got Dixie back in December, we were told by everyone we know who has a miniature donkey (3 people believe it or not) that in order for the donkey to develop a good and loving personality, you must spend time with it every day. Also, you must work with it and train it in the early months so it is disciplined and you can control it. I remember thinking how glad I was that I was no longer driving to Charlotte every day because it meant I could spend time with her. And I did. For a few weeks. But then I got caught up studying for my Series 65. And the weather turned kind of cold and wet for a while. And I just stopped spending the quality and quantity of time necessary for me and Dixie to have a good relationship which most importantly means she respects me. To be blunt, I got lazy.

It was my goal on Feb. 4th to go back to working with Dixie and get back to where we needed to be. But then the triplets were born and it's been non-stop ever since. And of course, with 4 babies in 8 days, Dixie lost her "baby of the pasture" status and she knew it and she let me know that she knew it by generally acting out and getting quite ornery. I had clearly lost control.

So last Monday I had the breeder come out and we spent an hour working with Dixie and I got the training I needed and she got some of the training she needed and we seemed headed back in the right direction. Of course, when I went solo on both Tuesday and Wednesday, Dixie was non-cooperative and I got frustrated. I was out of town Thursday so we had a break and I decided when I got back on Friday that Dixie and I just needed to spend some quality time together not working, but just hanging. Which we did. Friday. Saturday. Today.

And then this afternoon, after she'd already been fed, and armed with little bites of apple and oat treats in my pocket (a tool my breeder/trainer neither uses or advocates), Dixie and I got to work. She wasn't perfect. I probably wasn't perfect either. But we made progress. A lot more than we made on Tuesday or Wednesday. And at the end of the session, I was able to clean Dixie's hooves all by myself - something I have been trying to do for several months now but have not been able to. I was thrilled.

Meanwhile, we've been bringing Lucky out to the pasture on a regular basis. She usually gets an hour or so a day out there with the other goats. They have, for the most part, been supervised. Neither Ann-Margaret or Nugget seem to like Lucky and they both go after her. Lucky for Lucky that she is speedy and can get away. Plus, as Marty pointed out, he doesn't think they are trying to really hurt her - they are simply letting her know her place in the pasture. Nugget is the same way with Buster and Peanut as Ann-Margaret is with Surprise Steve. Elvis is not aggressive towards her at all - although he is also not as protective as I would like. Dixie seems particularly fascinated with Lucky and chases her all around. I think she's jealous. Marty thinks she's playful. I am sure it's somewhere in between.

As for Lucky and her brothers - they play together and butt heads and rear up at each other and they are in general trying to establish their own patterns of dominance so she's definitely developing her goat socialization skills.

Lastly, we had a big break through this morning when I left Lucky alone grazing with the herd for about 20 minutes. It was a big step (for both of us) and I hope it means we're moving in the right direction as far as integration goes.

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