The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

A dog's guide to goat language

Two goats

I've been spending a lot of time with our goats as I obsessively monitor Abigail's slow slide toward delivery. The actual specifics of when ligaments disappeared, when udder bulked up partway and then became further engorged, and so forth are going down on paper to make our doe's next pregnancy less nerve-wracking for the human observers. But today I can't resist sharing some of the thoughts I've had on goat language in the interim.

Goat standoff

The way goats communicate is so simple that I can't quite figure out why Lucy doesn't get it. Here's a typical exchange:

Lucy: Let's play! (Head down, tail up in downward-facing dog.)

Artemesia: Let's play! (Slightly lowers her head, then raises one front hoof, waving it about in the air.)

Lucy: *Sigh*. No one wants to play with me. (Wanders off.)

Artemesia: *Sigh*. No one wants to play with me. (Wanders off.)

Goat-dog standoff


Lucy: Let's play!

Abigail: If you know what's good for you, you'll back away slowly, right now. (Head lowered with horns directly facing forward.)

Lucy: Oh, goody, you want to play! (Bounds forward.)

Goat-dog fight
Abigail: #!*@ (Butts Lucy in the face.)

Lucy: WTF?! (Growls.)

Anna: Lucy! Bad dog!

Lucy: Oh, now I get it. Abigail is a cat.

Sometimes, I'm glad to be a human who speaks English, dog, goat, and cat. Does that make me multilingual?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The goat kid waiting game! Then it will be hours of watching goat kids play!

Comment by angie silvera Fri Mar 6 12:56:24 2015
ha! This was great.
Comment by deb Fri Mar 6 17:48:15 2015
Thanks for the chuckles.
Comment by Jackie Sat Mar 7 22:45:35 2015

profile counter myspace

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