To each her own, as the saying goes … and so it is with goats. They each have their own personalities and have specific positions in their hierarchy of life.
At first glance, our dairy goats are spindly legged, long-eared, Roman-nosed skeletal creatures that appear rather benign and shiftless. They carry the reputation of eating all things, even soda cans, and especially the neighbor’s prize roses. And, someone new to goats might expect them to escape from their pen specifically to perch atop unsuspecting parked cars. When you become a goat owner, you quickly learn where the saying “stubborn as an old goat” comes from.
In our herd of four does, the ranking is as follows: Lucy is No. 1, Canela No. 2, Snowflake No. 3 and MaryAnn No. 4. One is the boss, the other is the assistant to the boss, but doesn’t care for a promotion. The one in third place constantly challenges the assistant, while the girl in fourth cowers to all others.
To the naked eye, it’s not apparent that these girls have their own method of communication, but sit around and watch for a bit, and you’ll see I’m not talking about bleating. The way they communicate makes you thankful you’re not a member of the caprine family.
You’re a goat (I know, weird, but just go with me here). You walk into a pen full of goats you don’t know. You’re appropriately timid at first — knowing you’re the new kid on the block — then WHAM! You get side-swiped with a head to your gut by one of the attendees. (You didn’t come in full football regalia and definitely were not prepared for that one.) You stumble, catch your breath and regroup. “Man, what a jerk,” you mumble to yourself, while incoming from the left, just inside of your peripheral vision, comes another cranial attack to your midsection — different jerk this time.
Now you realize you’d better put up your dukes or you might just not make it out of here without significant internal bleeding. So you ruffle the hairs on your neck, stand as tall as your new bruises will allow, and prepare to take on the boss.
You rear up on your hind legs, suspended in the air for a breath-stopping second, mirroring the boss and her aggressive posture, before crashing down to the ground, butting hornless heads against each other. “Dang, that hurt.” But you shake it off, thank your lucky stars that you were born with a thick skull, and rear up again. You butt heads again, and again and again — until your headache is worse than you can handle and you cower away.
She won. She’s Lucy and you are MaryAnn. And you don’t care to have any part of her ever again.
She eats first, you eat last. She gets milked first, you get milked last.
The first one to sideswipe you was Canela. She’s been in second place ever since Lucy arrived on the farm four years ago and she’s happy with it. Canela’s job was to let you know that, along with no chance at first place, you’ll also never be in second. The kidney punch from the left was from Snowflake, a rather cutesy name for such a gangster. Her insult to your unprotected flesh was to put you straight out of third place as well. She and Canela will vie for second place, but you, she warns, will have no part in that.
You have just been firmly entrenched at the bottom of the ranking. You’re MaryAnn. Got it?
Welcome to the family, MaryAnn.
– The Goat Cheese Lady
This post first ran in the IndyBlog on 9-7-14.