July 6, 2011

Pygmies Rule

Jasmine, Surprise, & the Twins (before they were weaned)
Gruffy & Chipper in the background (other side of the fence)

Shattered, are my idyllic visions of peaceful pastoral living: chicks peeping, songbirds singing, wind whispering in the oak leaves, goats softly bleating when they see me coming with the feed bucket. Quite country living? Not with critters. Not with our critters. Instead, we get squawking, squabbling, crowing, crying, begging, beeping (Chipper beeps), bellowing (Jasmine bellows), and hollering. Some days I can't hear myself think. Add to that the guy on the muffler-less motor scooter who makes ten trips a day to the corner store, and the guy who cruises by with his boom box blaring, and I have to say that sometimes I just want to lock myself in the closet for some peace and quiet.

Chickens & goats share the pasture. Lord B is always on the alert.

I'm not sure which is worse, the chickens or the goats. We have a rooster, so of course crowing is to be expected.

FUN FACT: Did you know that roosters don't really crow at dawn? Some of them actually start around 3 or 3:30 AM.

But the hens. What a racket. They don't just cluck, they squawk and screech. Especially if some other hen has the particular nest box they want. They carry on and on and on. They finally settle down once they get the nest, but after laying their egg, they want the whole world to know. Our Delaware actually sounds like she's laughing. We've dubbed her Minihaha. The Welsummers are the worst. They never seem to let up. There's no such thing as stealth mode at our homestead.

With the goats, part of it is breed. The Nubians bellyache about everything. Don't ever try to keep a secret with a Nubian around. They'll tell the world. The worst of it is late in the afternoon, when they anticipate their evening grain. I milk every 12 hours, about 6 and 6. The complaining starts around 4:30 in the afternoon, especially if I so much as step out of the house. They keep it up until I finally appear with the milking bucket and then kick it into high gear (the begging, not the bucket :). Patience simply isn't in their vocabulary. The neighbors must think we're torturing them.

Riley & Chipper

With the bucks, the problem is a little different, though they still make some noise: Chipper the beeping alarm goat, the twins shrieking when they get excited, and McGruff's low, throaty bleat.

I bought the Pygmies together, from the same breeder. Even though they'd lived in separate pens, they seemed to bond over the hour long ride to their new home in the back of my jeep. Once here, they saw the twin bucklings through the fence every day, and were introduced to them on short visits. I thought I was doing a good job of preparing everyone for when the Twins went to live with the "big" Billy Boys.

Well, the Pygmies didn't see it that way. When it came time for the Twins to be weaned and moved permanently to the buck pasture, McGruff wouldn't let them anywhere near the buck barn. That was Pygmy territory. We finally had to move the feed can out of their barn, and closer to the house. Once the food was gone, Gruffy loosened up a bit, but the principle remains the same. The bucklings are allowed in to get hay or minerals, but that's it. Weeks later, they still don't spend the night there. They spend it as close to their mom as they can get.

Pygmy goats rule

All of this, of course, has to do with the social order of goats. Being butted is one way younger goats learn their place. McGruff is oldest, so he is top goat. Chipper's position of privilege comes from his association with Ol' Gruff. But what irony. The smallest, quietest goats on the place have the biggest say-so. What more can I say except, Pygmies rule.


Julie said...

It (sounds) like a crazy life! But it does sound like a fun crazy life!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

I love your fencing and your log cabin barn for the goats. Did you build it or was it there when you bought the place ? And quiet on the farm ? Never. Even when our own critters settle down, the coyotes in the woods start up. Soon our dogs are barking at them all night. This is why I need a city visit at least once a month

Tami said...

Oh the drama! How is your "back 40"coming along? If you get that cleared out back there you could move them w a y back...or if Mr Scooter doesn't get a muffler soon, you and Dan could always build a house back there. (grin)

It's always something...

trump said...

I did a post one time with a rooster involved, that little thing almost killed me,lol. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon, Pa

Leigh said...

Julie, critters always make it crazy. Amusing, but crazy. :)

Donna, that's Ft. William and we built it. It's not quite done yet, but we needed buck housing so this is it! We've had to do all our own fencing too, since there was none. At least we don't have coyotes!

Tami, don't think we haven't thought of that! Actually, Ft. William claims one of the nicest spots on the property: away from the road and catching all the cool breezes. Dan says all it needs is a couple of bunks. :p

Richard, some of those little guys don't have a clue as to how small they are! Just goes to show that size isn't everything. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Leigh, I just loved this post! It put a big smile on my face and warmed my soul! I really think you could put all your post together and sell it as a lovely book, photo's included! It would be so special as you are! Please consider this idea! Hugs!

P.S. that is so funny we have the same dishes! I have had them forever...lol!

* Crystal * said...

LOL! Our rooster, Jackson, starts his crowing promptly at 2:00am with a few random crows thrown in mid afternoon. I've never heard him crow anywhere near dawn!

My Alpine girl Bleuberry is a closet Nubian! She bellows about EVERYTHING....the other Alpines will continually look at her ad if to say "Will you shut up already?!"

We added a new baby (my latest blog post) & she was suffering the same fate as your poor twins....Though it wasn't a mighty pygmy being a dictator, it was Bleuberry picking her up by her skin & THROWING her out of the barn! So we separated them. Relations through the fence are improving though, so we'll try reintroducing our newest member in a week or so.

And I thought of you recently.... we attended a flea market & a couple there had two pygmy wethers that looked just like your boys. They were hooked up to a mini old timey looking carriage loaded with goat's milk soap.....talk about an adorable marketing tool!

It may be noisy with critters, but I know you wouldn't trade the chaos for anything :-)

Susan said...

I had to laugh at the idea of "quiet" animals! Especially since I came in a half an hour ago from putting the loose turkeys back in their pen and moved sprinklers. The sheep are still trying to convince me that they are starving to death. I'm not allowed to feed (shoulder surgery a week ago), so they will just have to wait until the kid gets home from work. And I know when I go move the sprinklers, the hoard will sound off again. The whole neighborhood knows when I go outside!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

OMG, Chipper is the same size as the cat! That is to cute. Never underestimate those little guys. They can really pack a punch. I tend to love the noise of the farm. In fact if it gets quiet, I get scared and go running to see why.

Norm Schneiter said...

Thanks for sharing your honest perceptions of country life. I recently purchased 6 acres and we are contemplating getting some animals. You don't always consider the downside when you're making plans. It helps to have other perspectives.

Renee Nefe said...

It could be worse...the cats could be part Siamese and talk all the time too!

I grew up next to chicken so I know they're noisy. I think the neighbors had 3 or 4 roosters who were constantly trying to claim the territory with their voices...then then hens would squawk at everything.

Except for a visit to a goat dairy I haven't had much interaction with goats. The ones there were pretty quiet, though it was no where near feeding time for them.

Seeking Serenity said...

sorry, but this was so funny :D
and those guys look the definition of "Billy goats gruff".
man, what I wouldnt give to hear it all though...

Jill @ The Prairie Homestead said...

Oh my- this post made me laugh! I can totally relate. I have been thinking the exact same thing this week. Between the roosters, our Nubians, and the new steer who has figured out he can moo at the back window, our homestead is no longer quiet!! :)

Leigh said...

Pam, so glad you enjoyed it. You live practically in the middle of Pygmy territory, so I know you can appreciate!

Crystal, oh no! Naughty Bleuberry! Aren't goats the darndest at times? Those Pygmies colorations are the two most common for the breed. I think they would look so cute pulling a carriage!

Susan, no privacy amongst the barnyard crowd! LOL. Sorry to hear about your shoulder. I hope it mends quickly so you can get back to catering to those critters. :)

Jane, and would you believe that Chipper has actually grown some since we got him? I know what you mean about the quiet, it's scary!

Norm, thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment! It's much appreciated. And congratulations on your 6 acres! Very exciting. You'll probably run in to quite a few reality checks along the way, just like the rest of us. :)

Renee, oh Siamese! I'm so glad Riley and Katy don't talk much. Rascal used to start meowing every morning around 3 or 4; I think he was part Siamese. Riley's technique is to stand on top of me and start kneading and purring until I get up. He usually lets me sleep in till 5 though.

Peaceful, that's how Gruffy got his name! He is the epitome of a billy goat gruff. :)

Jill, ain't that the truth! Glad we don't have any cattle. I think Jasmine is loud but I imagine your steer is even louder!

Susan said...

I totally relate. I cannot go out on my back deck without setting off the lamb alarm. And that starts the Nigerian alarm, which sets off the rooster and hens. Then the ducks join in. It's deafening! I should have named one of my lambs Ethel Merman. Man, oh, man, what a voice.

Sheryl at Providence North said...

It sounds wonderful! I know wha tyou mean about chickens! Ours set up such a racket all morning until the egg laying was done. The rooster crowed all day long.

A Wild Thing said...

Too funny...I used to raise guineas, so I'm totally in tune to noise...had to get up in the middle of the night with a loaded shotgun to shoot a hen out of the neighbors tree, she was on borrowed time as it was, but ever since she was the matron to the hatch of several hen's brood, SHE NEVER SHUT UP!!!!!!

Her squawking continued all day and all night calling in the chicks, who were all adults by now...something had to be done...carrots and potatoes solved the problem...a mighty tasty roasted combo, hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

Love the shot of the two pygmies in the barn...priceless!

Leigh said...

Susan, "lamb alarm," how funny. I never thought of sheep as being so noisy, but I reckon all farm critters are!

Sheryl, before I got chickens I read all the chicken forums. I was actually naive enough to google "quiet roosters." LOL One forum message said her chickens were so quiet that her neighbors were surprised to find out she had them. Now I wish I'd gotten what breed of chicken she had!

Wild Thing, too funny. I've heard guineas are some of the worst culprits in the noise department. Carrots and potatoes solves a lot of problems! :)

Leigh said...

Ya'll, my internet connection has really been spotty with all the rain we've been getting. Will try to reply to everyone's much appreciated comments and questions as soon as I can.

Allie said...

I love your blog. I love how honest you are about this kind of lifestyle. Thanks for writing about it.

Leigh said...

Alicia, thank you. I feel very compelled to help folks succeed at the homesteading lifestyle, so to me that means being honest about the ups as well as the downs. A lot of us want to pursue it, but it is different from what we've known. I just hope I can encourage others to stick with it and not give up.