I brought the goats out of their pasture for a short stroll and munch yesterday evening. I've missed hanging out with the goats lately. With all the out of town field work, holiday frivolity, and so much of my time and thought focused on our elimination diet experiment, the goats and I barely find time to say hello while I dish out their food and water each day. It was nice to spend some time playing goat herd and practicing my goat photography.
Nobody likes to have their picture taken when they are chewing a mouth full of food, and goats always have their mouths full!
I think the goats look like they have a healthy weight, but sometimes I wonder if they get enough exercise. They have lots of tall grass and weeds in their little pasture, and sometimes I see them out nibbling on plants, but mostly they like to lounge in the shade in their stall and cry for me to feed them more hay. They love hay. I'm not sure why the same vegetation that stands in their pasture is so much tastier when it's been cut and dried, but it is. Plus, those lazy goats don't want to bother walking out and helping themselves, they would rather I bring it to them!
I like hay too. I like the way it smells, and they way it feels all fluffy and clean. I even enjoy using my muscles to lift a pitchfork full, and I like the happy contented feeling that seems to come over the goats and donkeys when they are munching it. I like spreading it around and making the chicken coops and area around the barn seem clean and nice to walk on. I'm pretty sure Brandon enjoys riding his tractor and cutting the hay. He likes the clean look of mowed fields. I even think he enjoys using his home made hand baler, and the feeling of accomplishment we get when we pile up all those home made bales.
Our hay making system has advanced this year. Instead of raking all the cut hay by hand, like we did last summer, we borrowed a hay rake from Joe, and use the old jeep that my parents gave us to pull the rake around the field and pile the dried hay into rows. The hay rake has wheels that turn the raking mechanism when it's pulled along, which is pretty cool. We laugh when we see our neighbors slow their cars when they pass by and see the jeep out in the front field, raking up the hay. Who needs a tractor when they have a jeep, right?
We've piled our hay bales all the way the ceiling now, and we're talking about ways to store more hay in the dry. Of the seven big giant round bales that we got last fall from the neighbors field, I have four left, but only one of them was covered by a tarp and kept dry. Now that it's warm weather, three of them are getting moldy and brown from being rained on, and the goats won't eat it. All fall and winter, I was generous with the hay, and the goats had plenty of extra to pile up and make a deep bed to lay on. I used up three giant round bales for four animals. It was full of blackberry brambles and broomsedge, but I heard no complaints. I'm not sure how many homemade square bales of good hay make up one giant round bale of weedy hay, but I want to put up as much as I can, and hopefully I can get some more from the neighbors field too, before winter.
Speaking of hay appreciation - even the chickens like the hay for their nests!