Today was an uneventful morning with the goats. I got up to the barn during feeding time and once every goat was fed I grabbed Ellsa and started walking her. I walked Ellsa on a new path that goes through the woods and after that I walked Scarlett and Eve on the new path as well. Eve was walkin so much better on the path in the woods that I think I’ll walk her through the woods every time I work with her.
As I wrapped up things with the goats, Donna said that I should try to get out to the barn for two hours at least once a week because there’s a high likelihood that I’ll be showing a pig in the market class. Three of Jordan and Jennifer’s pigs are around the same weight and since they’re in the same weight class I’ll have to be comfortable enough with the pig to show it in the ring. Since this class is about the pig more so than it is about me there isn’t a lot of pressure for me to “do well”. I’m excited for this new chapter in my 4-H experience!
Today was my first time working with the goats by myself and it went very well. I started off my giving the pigs leftover cookies that nobody wanted and they loved it. The pink pig ran up as usual and took a cookie right away. The black sow ate one next. The other pink pig sniffed at the cookie and started eating it when I broke it into smaller pieces (the cookies were maybe 3cm in diameter so I’m not sure why that one pig wanted small pieces).
The pigs fighting over the cookie
Once the pigs ate their cookies I started working with the goats.
I started off by walking Ellsa on the path. Although she still jumped two feet into the air and bleated angrily she did much better than she did on Thursday. After I walked Ellsa I tied her up and grabbed Scarlett.
Ellsa during her walk
Scarlett is now in the second part of the big pen with a few other goats including Eve. As soon as I walked into the pen Scarlett stands in front of me and she doesn’t resist me putting the halter on her. Although not being the easiest to walk she was doing much better today. Since Scarlett was walking beautifully I decided to use the choke chain on her. For a change of scenery I walked Scarlett on the grass path that leads to the goat pens. She was very well behaved while on this path so I might use it in the future. After I finished working with Scarlett I loosened her halter and she stepped out of it. This may seem like nothing but it’s quite the triumph. I’m convinced that Scarlett is the smartest goat because she doesn’t run away when I walk up with a halter and she can help me get herself out of a harness.
Scarlett walking on the path
Me trying to get Scarlett to walk
Eve on the other hand was a nightmare. In order to get her close enough to me that I could grab her horns and get her into the harness I had to put the show chains in a bucket so that it sounded like food. Since Eve is a gullible goat she walked up to me and looked into the bucket, which gave me just enough time to grab her by the horns. She was twisting her head every which way and almost chokin herself on the chain. Finally I decided to walk Eve down the path where I walked Scarlett and she seemed to be less of a pain to walk. By lap 3 she was finally starting to walk. Once I got her to walk correctly I got her back into the pen. Walking Eve was only half the battle. When I tried to remove her head from the halter I got the halter off the bridge of her nose before she ran away, which is problematic because the halter is still around her neck and I was worried that she would choke. I used the chains in the Bucket trick to get Eve to walk towards me but she still spooked. Eventually my dad had to hold the bucket next to the fence while I was out of sight in order to grab the harness and take it off of her.
After Eve was freed I got 3 treats- one for Eve, one for Ellsa and one for Scarlett. The whole time I was working with the Scarlett and Eve Ellsa was tied up and to make matters worse, all of the other goats were milling around the pen. Ellsa was so excited to get her treat that she put her front legs on my Thigh and wolfed the treat down hungrily. While I wasn’t paying attention Peanut grabbed the treats out of my hand. Once Ellsa was roaming freely and Eve and Scarlett were in their pen I left.
Ellsa enjoying her treat
All things considered I think my first time working with the goats went well but in the future I’ll just have to start by working with Eve because she’s the most difficult goat to work with. I’ll also try not to leave Ellsa tied to the fence while i work with the other goats.
Today I started off by harnessing all the goats so I could walking them around the path. By walkin the goats we make sure that they increase muscle mass before the show. I started with Scarlett because I know how she would react to walking. Although she put up somewhat of a fight, she was mostly cooperative when I walked her. I decided to walk Ellsa next because she was already in her harness. Unsurprisingly Ellsa hated walking and every couple of steps she would dig in her front legs and bleat loudly or she would jump a foot into the air. Eventually we made it through our walk and then the real challenge would start: getting Eve to wear the halter. Eve is is a different pen with Sparky and another doe and she’s very stubborn. If she doesn’t want to move there’s no way to make her move. In order to harness Eve I chased her for 5-10 minutes and finally Jordan walked into the barn. Since Eve will do anything for food she walked into the barn and while Jordan grabbed her by the horns I put her in the halter. Once Eve was in her halting it was smooth sailing for the most part.
All the goats surrounding me when I walked into their pen
After I walked my goats with the halter I walked Ellsa and Scarlett using the chains. Initially Scarlett was being Scarlett and refused to walk but by the third lap she was walking perfectly and she let me adjust her feet slightly. Ellsa was still a pain to walk because she continued to jump and bleat. After I successfully got Ellsa to walk twice I called it a day and started feeding the goats.
Feeding the goats was an ordeal as usual. Almost half the hay bale was moldy so we had to dig around and find good hay that the goats would eat. Once we found decent hay we filled up all the feeders and left the goats to eat.
Once all the goats had been fed we took a wheelbarrow full of moldy hay up to the pigs. One of the pink pigs, I think it is the sow, ran up to the fence as soon as they saw me and did the same thing once they saw I had hay. Once the pigs had some hay we checked their water tank. Jordan and I took a couple of buckets up so that they would have an abundance of water. Once all the animals were fed I went home.
Today was a rather eventful visit with the goats. I started off by walking Eve, my oldest goat, on the trail that leads behind the house. She was less than willing to walk on the harness, especially since it was my first time working with her. Eventually we sorted out my issues and by the end Eve would walk when I walked and stand still when I stand still.
Eve enjoying her walk
After I walked Eve I corralled all the younger goats and walked Ellsa and Scarlett. I decided to start by walking Ellsa because she is more cooperative and she can stand up properly. I used the new choke chain with an adjustable collar and after one lap Ellsa was walking like a pro.
As we finished walking the goats and fed them their dinner, a big storm started rolling in. We had to fill up the hay feeders inside the barn so that the little goats could eat hay and the outdoor feeder as well. When we were getting the hay we realized that some of the hay had started to mold. Although the mold doesn’t hurt the goats, they will not eat it so usually the hay would get wasted. Fortunately for Donna, pigs will eat hay even if it is moldy and the hay will fatten them up as well.
A newly filled hay feeder
Once the goats were fed, Scooter had ointment on his rash, and the hay feeders were filled, we started to feed the pigs. First, we fed the pigs grain and dumped food scraps into their bowl. The marshmallows that are usually reserved for treats were also put in the food bucket because they were sticky, soggy, and covered in ants. While the pigs were eating we wheeled up the wheelbarrow full of moldy hay and put it next to their feed. One of the sows ran up to the hay and started eating it and rolling around in it as well. Apparently pigs roll around in hay and end up cleaning all the dirt off their skin.
Once all the animals were fed, we covered up the bale of hay once again. In order to give the hay some room to breathe while also making sure that it is protecteur from the rain we put a roll of wire fencing on top of the hay then covered it up with the tarp. After the hay was covered up once again I walked to my car and drove away. Once in the car I noticed how sweaty, dusty and happy I was. I rarely feel as fulfilled as I do when working with the animals because I’m constantly learning while spending time outside, which are two of my favorite things.
The hay bale after we covered it with the tarp. The roll of wire is the rectangular shape behind the brick.
As I walked up the hill to the farm I was caught off guard when I saw the pigs running around. The pigs had to get their stalls cleaned so donna thought it would be good for me to learn how to work with the pigs. The most important thing I learned about pigs is that they LOVE marshmallows. Before I worked with the pigs I gave each one a marshmallows to reinforce good behavior. In order to get a pig to walk you use a short plastic rod. If you want the pig to go forward you tap the butt gently and if you want the pig to go left you gently tap the right shoulder and vice versa. I don’t know how to set up a pig for judging but that’s something I can learn the next time I work with the pigs. The pigs are very affectionate and fun to be around. One pig stuck his belly in the air so he could get a belly rub and the others sniffed at my legs and licked me like a puppy.
Pigs Part II
When I was done working with the pigs I harnessed all the goats and walked them using the choke chain. The goats were very cooperative today. Donna taught me a trick that teaches my goats how to walk with me. If I walk a few steps and stop that teaches the goats how to walk at my pace and it helps them get into the groove of walking
After walking the goats we gave them treats for being cooperative while we walked them and we fed them as well. As we finished filling up everybody’s troughs Jordan’s sister Jennifer drove up to say hi. She’s 18 4-H years old and since it’s her last year of 4-h she asked me if I wanted to show beef steers next year. She has a couple of beef steers at her farm, which is a couple of miles away and she said that I could buy one from her and raise it at her farm next summer. Donna is also planning on having me show swine next year so it seems like my last year as a 4-H er will go out with a bang.
Treats for Peanut
Today was day two of 90 degree weather which means that the goats were being uncooperative again. I tried to walk them but it was another test in will power. I don’t think that anybody won because the goats didn’t get much walking done and I just left feeling frustrated and ineffective. It’s nice to practice walking the goats in hot weather because this is what the weather will be like during the fair and if I can get them to walk when its 90 degrees then I can do anything. At the end of my visit we put a little bit of lice shampoo on Scooter. We didn’t put a massive amount on him because Peanut might stop nursing him if he smells too different because she is a first time mom. All the other goats got shampooed without problem. After everybody was fed I left and went home.
Today was an interesting day to work with the goats. Jordan and Donna were taking the goats to a show over the weekend so they were in the middle of preparing for a show. We shaved Sparky, the buck, and Gabby who is Scarlett’s sister. I’m not sure why but both Scarlett and Gabby hate having their back legs touched so showmanship as well as shaving to prepare for the fair was a struggle.
It was upwards of 90 degrees and humid so everybody was cranky.This was my first time using a chain with spikes. The spikes, which are situated at the bottom of chain go right under the goat’s chin and force them to work with you. For the most part goats are less likely to choke because they quickly learn that if they walk properly then they don’t choke. Another perk of using choke chains is that you don’t need to exert a lot of force for them to be effective because just the slight pressure from the presence of the chains forces the goats to work with you. I had to drag Ellsa in order to get her to walk and even then she kept walking on her hind legs and moving when I set up her feet properly. I hoped that I would have better luck with Scarlett, but that was not the case at all. Scarlett walked in a zig zag pattern and refused to let me touch her back legs per usual. At one point Scarlett just sat down while I was trying to walk her so I touched her back legs to get her to walk again which was vaguely effective. After I attempted to walk Scarlett two more time I decided to call it a day.