GP–Goat Patrol: The Bully Hierarchy Has Shifted

When we went to feed the goats on a lovely 50+ degree day with bright sunshine and receding icy snowbanks, we found Nanny, Bully Senior, and Bully Junior, as well as two new female donkeys and a donkey colt. (We had heard that Buddy had become a father recently and although we wondered if this was his offspring, the colt seemed to be too big for someone about a month old.

Buddy was MIA, as we pulled into the parking lot and saw the three goats and two donkeys nibbling on some tossed-out hay. The goats ambled over as soon as Bob began bleating. The donkeys were not far behind. The colt followed his mother to the fence.

New donkey colt in his winter coat

Bully Senior tried to stake out a spot on the fence, butting the hip of one of the donkeys. She did not kick her hind feet at him but gave him a “What do you want, little man” look. The other donkey nudged him out of the way. After a few more feeble attempts at head butting, he retreated to the second line with Nanny and Bully Junior.

Still sorting out the bully hierarchy: one donkey at the fence, colt and donkey, Bully Senior and Bully Junior

Because we were feeding five adult animals, rather than the usual four, the potatoes disappeared quicker than usual. We had to throw the potatoes past the donkeys to the goats in the second line. For two people who can not throw very well, we managed to hit the goats with soft slices of potato more than I would have thought possible.

Bob returned from the car with some raw carrots and Brussel sprouts. To his surprise, the hard raw vegetables disappeared as fast as the warm cooked potatoes. The female donkeys were not as aggressive at grabbing the vegetables as Buddy is. They used their lips more than their teeth to ensure that hands continued to provide more treats. In this regard, they eat like the goats.

Bully Senior felt compelled to boss around the other two goats since the donkeys were unimpressed. His horns got caught up under the collar of Bully Junior. Both goats stood quietly for a minute until Bully Senior figured out how to twist his head and free his horns.

After the vegetables were gone, Bob went into the store to get dessert. The goats knew the drill–as long as I was at the fence, more food would be forthcoming. And it was.

After dessert, we got back in the car. The goats knew that chow call was over for the day. The donkeys were still hopeful.

Betwixt and Between Bemused and Befuddled

In the bleak midwinter
when January is waning
and Spring is 
too far away to summon,
cold rules the airwaves.

The average temperature
has risen 2 degrees in the past two week
according to the meteorologist,
but the thermometer does not agree.

We have gained 
over a half hour of daylight
since the Solstice
which might help melt the icy snow
if Old Man Winter
were not such an SOB.

Early harbingers of spring
have popped out
cherry blossoms
winter jasmine
leaf spears of daffodils and tulips
through the icy remnants of
stubborn snow.
Suspended like me
betwixt and between
bemused and befuddled.

Squirrel Appreciation Day–January 21

Tree rats deserve some recognition too. They are cheeky, creative, potentially destructive, and very entertaining in one furry, tail flicking bundle.

Some facts about squirrels:

  • Creator, Christy Hargrove, is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina and is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.
  • Squirrel Appreciation Day began in 2001.
  • Three types of squirrels: tree, ground, and flying squirrels
  • Rally Squirrel was selected as a mascot by the St Louis Cardinal after he helped them win a couple of World Series by interupting some of the games
  • It’s also National Hug Day, but nobody recommends hugging a squirrel because they have been known to bite when cornered or to defend their food stash.
The nut disappeared in the flick of a tail
another squirrel stole it off  of the rail.
He looked high and low, including the ground
but his lost  nut was not to be found
until he spied a squirrel munching high up in the tree
flicking his tail and chortling with glee.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow–Enough Already

After wondering if Winter would ever arrive in December where we were well above average most days, January arrived with a vengeance:

  • January 3–7+ inches,
  • January 6- another inch,
  • January 16-3-4 inches,
  • January 14-15 another chance of snow.

Our most recent snowstorm was supposed to begin about noon. We went out to feed the goats at 9:30, figuring we would be ahead of the storm and would not be able to go out to White Hall for a few days. Despite Bob’s best attempts at bleating and braying, while waving the plastic container of warm potatoes, nary a goat or donkey appeared. We threw the potatoes into the pasture, figuring that something would enjoy them eventually.

We got home about 10:15 as the first flakes began to drift down. By 11:00 there were enough flakes to cover the grass and the tops of cars. We prepared the cars for the snow and ice by lifting the wiper blades up from the windshield.

Car ready for the snow

By midafternoon, snow was thick enough to crunch when you walked on it. The thin, dry flakes were unlike the heavy wet snow from two weeks ago. The change meant less chance or power outages from downed tree limbs. (Some of the surrounding counties were without electricity or broadband for over week).

By 8:30 that night, the snow was tapering off. The tractor that had been prepositioned on Saturday afternoon was still waiting for someone to drive it.

Snow tractor awaits a driver. He began plowing about 10pm last night. Scraped down to a layer of icy pavement.

By 8 am this morning, the sun was beginning the shine. The plow had made another pass and someone hired by the homeowners association was shoveling the sidewalk.

After lunch, I’ll go out to clear the snow off the cars, and shovel the plowed-up snow behind the cars. Such fun!

January Full Moon, January 17

Wolf pack howls at the full moon.
Are they moon struck,
do they laud canis major,
or is it the agony of biting cold
from the Wolf Moon or the Ice Moon?

Moon of many names
Moon after Yule,
Old Moon
Marker of festivals
Hindu (Shakambhari Purnima, the last day in the eight-day Shakambari Navratri holiday that celebrates the goddess Shakambhari.)
Myanmar (corresponds with the Ananda Pagoda Festival, a week-long celebration of this Buddhist temple built in 1105 A.D. in the city of Bagan.)
Sri Lanka (Duruthu Poya, which commemorates Siddhartha Gautama Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka.

For more information about Moons and the Calendar click here.

It’s cold, it’s gray. Is it here to stay?

Heavy weight lies everywhere:

Snow on the ground
Blankets on the bed
Numbers on the scale
For some, bills on the credit cards
Frustration with two years of Covid
Different administrations but same government impasse

Where is the light?

To warm our spirits
Ease our burdens
Soothe our brows
Untense our muscles
Strengthen our resolve
that it Will Get Better?

Pandora found hope at the bottom of her chest.
Have we dug deep enough to find it?

Cold, Arthritis, and Bully Goats

Because of a 7 plus inch snow and ice storm, we did not drive out to White Hall for several days. As we drove along the winding, two-lane country road, we kept switching lanes to avoid downed tree limbs or toppled trees, no match for the heavy accumulation of white they carried.

When we got to the farm, nary a goat or donkey was in sight. Bob bleated and he-hawed until the two bully goats raised their heads to see if it was worthwhile to leave the comparative warmth of their straw-covered shed. Seeing us with the familiar plastic-covered dishes in hand, they realized that food was probable.

Bully Junior, trotted across the snow-covered stubble and was the first to reach the fence. Bully Senior ambled stiffly behind, the first time I noticed that he was also afflicted with arthritis that had stricken Nanny. Poor Nanny raised her head but never mustered enough energy to come to the fence for food. (This was the first time that pain and stiffness outweighed the desire for food.)

The goats were treated to very ripe cantaloupe that had been sitting in the car trunk since the snowstorm began and some cut-up sweet potatoes. With two feeders and two goats, life was sweet until a much thinner Buddy belatedly approached the fence. Bully Junior immediately moved away from the fence, knowing that food would be tossed his way if he was patient.

Buddy nipped Bob’s hand when he got a little greedy grabbing another bit of cantaloupe. Bully Senior was much more agile in grabbing the bite with his tongue or his lips. Buddy also has very large, brown teeth in his mouth. Bully Junior was quick to grab any bit off the ground that was flung in his general direction.

Buddy, Nanny, and the Bully Goats

At the fence, Buddy the Donkey and Bully Goat Senior are waiting to be fed. Bully Junior (brown goat with horns) and Nanny (white goat without horns) await their turn.
Better shot of Buddy and Bully Sr waiting for the food

In the village of Whitehall behind Wyant’s Country Store, lies a small farm where three goats and one donkey live in a hierarchy of bullies. Buddy, the donkey, is the largest and usually gets whatever he wants. Nanny is the mother of Bully Senior and Bully Junior. Both brothers regularly butt heads with Nanny, who suffers from arthritis as well as the bully goats. (The owner calls them Saphire, Amos, and Andy but we call them Nanny and the Bullies.)

It is entertaining to see how they navigate the world of bully or being bullied.

My husband and I usually feed them several times a week. He cooks sweet potatoes and carrots for them. They also like fruit–especially strawberries, apples, and bananas. They recognize us and come trotting over when they see us approach with food in our hands.

Buddy and Bully Sr usually line up against the fence. Sometimes Buddy is busy in the back pasture (I hear he has an eye on a jenny back there). If Buddy does not appear, then Bully Jr and even Nanny also try to stake out space along the fence line.

Bully Sr, is very quick to ensure that no other goat gets between him and the humans. He has been known to place his hooves on any of the fence railings (including the top) to ensure he gets the first crack at whatever is being offered. He has a long tongue that can easily detach almost anything being served. He’ll butt heads with Jr and poor hornless Nanny if he thinks they may get something he feels entitled to.

By splitting the food, sometimes one of us can concentrate on Senior, while the other one throws food to the other two goats. Sr. has caught on to this and will headbutt to enforce that he is large and in charge. He is always careful not to discourage the humans from feeding him.

My husband bought an apple-flavored salt lick for them. It was one of those days that Buddy sauntered in late. Nanny tasted the lick first but was soon pushed aside by Junior, who in turn was butted out of the war by Senior. When Buddy appeared, he nudged Senior aside. Senior eyed Buddy from the rear and lowered his head as if he were going to butt Buddy. He soon realized that charging a donkey’s hind legs would be a big mistake.

On a different occasion, we saw Buddy suddenly kick out with his hind legs when he sensed that one of the goats might be getting close to something he wanted for himself, so Senior may have been sent flying on one or more occasions.

December Full Moon–Cold or Yule Moon, December 18

Shine on the water, shine on the land, help brighten the darkness, your time is at hand.
Full moon of many names
please help to brighten
the longest nights of the year

Frost or cold because cold is a given
Yule or oak because the solstice is nigh
Child because it rises so early children can see it
Chang'e 3 because China landed 3 rovers on it

Beaver Full Moon–19 November

The Beaver Moon or the Frosty Moon are both names for this full moon. It will also feature the second lunar eclipse occurring early in the morning; a nearly-total eclipse with 97.4% of the moon’s diameter becoming immersed in the Earth’s dark umbra at 4:04 a.m. EST (0904 GMT).

Beavers busy preparing for winter
before the water fully freezes
Fur coats help ward off
most brisk breezes

Wait, I’m also a moon?

Hunter’s Moon is October 20, 2021

When the full moon shines so bright
'Causing most everyone delight
Except the hunted, remaining out  of sight

Moonlight makes orange the eyes
Exposing the camouflage disguise
And that is where the danger lies

Headlights create similar alarm
An accident can also cause great harm
Along a road or near some farm

So when the moon is riding high
Watch out for reflections in an animal's eye
If you see it you know they are nearby.

Merry Morning Mist-eries

The soft misty morning
enticed the rest of me
outdoors when I stuck
my nose out to test the temperature.

Happy preschoolers giggled
as they placed chase
with the ragged umbrella
that had previously
sheltered them when they
plunked merrily
 on  the wet grass.

Liquid-throated birds
warbled in trees
during my explorations around the block.

Three squirrels played
ring-around  the tree trunk
as a brown oak leaf
slowly helicoptered to the pavement.

The humidity held
a trace of damp earth
and  refreshed, happy greenery.

Accumulated plunks from
tree limbs dotted
my t-shirt but the
mist left no trace
except on
my hair, memories
and attitude.

Harvest Moon–September 20

In 2021, the Northern Hemisphere autumn equinox comes on September 22. The full moon falls less than two days earlier, on September 20. Thus, for the Northern Hemisphere, this upcoming full moon – the full moon closest to our autumn equinox – is our Harvest Moon.

Not the harvest moon but a golden sunset with a golden moon
O Golden Moon

Harbinger of end of summer
rich harvest gathered
moment of rest and gratitude

Precursor of chillier days
longer nights with
holidays to celebrate
year's ending.