Thursday, July 8, 2010

Annual Bath Day for the Goats

The mercury crept up into the mid-90s today, making it the hottest day of the year so far. Following a tradition that I started when we adopted our first herd of goats, I declared it Caprine bath day – the day when the goats take their annual bath, whether or not (in their opinion)  they need it. Clad in a bathing suit and rubber boots, I armed myself with the hose and a bottle of shampoo and headed down to the barn.
The first “volunteer” was Planchet, a two-year old Alpine pack goat who has mastered the art of butting the other goats into the fence to test the strength of the electric shocks of the fence wire. He’s always looking for a way to escape, and I swear I caught him reading “Goat of Fortune” magazine one afternoon. As soon as the cold hose water hit him, he leaned toward me and started drinking from the stream. He wasn’t too thrilled about the soap, but later I realized that was probably only because I put the hose down to apply it. Planchet didn’t seem to be too excited about going back into the barn, but I did have 4 other goats to bathe, so too bad for him.
Athos, the last of our original herd and an ancient (for goats) 14 years old, was next in line for the treatment. He’s mellowed out over the years and has learned that the less fuss and complaining he does, the quicker the bath. He grabbed a leafy snack on the way to the shower area and chewed on it while I washed him.
Grimmaud, Planchet’s half-brother, was next. Unlike Planchet, Grimmaud clearly does not believe in baths and he did his best to run away by winding the leash around the pole until he was stuck. He complained and leaned away while I scrubbed him and he refused to even attempt to drink from the hose. When I returned him to the barn, and called for the next volunteer, Planchet trotted over and tried to slip through the gate, apparently thinking that it was his turn again.
I finally snagged Wladyclaw, a yearling Oberhasli, and brought him over to the shower area. Wladyclaw seemed to enjoy the cooling power of the cold water, but he wasn’t quite as excited about it as Planchet had been. He also kept twisting his head back to sniff at the shampoo. Apparently, he wasn’t too keen on the scent – I suppose he’s got some idea of what a goat ought to smell like and shampoo isn’t it.
Miklos, Wladyclaw’s brother, was scheduled for the final shower. He did have to nudge aside Planchet because Planchet was trying to sneak out for a second turn under the hose. Miklos is another goat who believes that he doesn’t need a shower and he clearly hates having the cold water spray on or near his tail. Every time I aimed the hose toward his back end, he’d hunker down as if he were going to sit like a dog (goats don’t “sit” – they either stand or lie down). He eagerly ran back to the barn as soon as I released him. I’m not sure if he was simply enthusiastic about the concept of getting dinner, or that he really was trying to escape from the hose. Regardless, it’s going to be almost a year before he has to have another bath and I’m sure he’s thankful for that.

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