Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pastures, minerals, and the Ozark sale. And my two cents.

As most of you who have read my blog for any length of time already know, we are not only trying to grow goats on the farm, but also to bring back land used for tobacco for years to a diverse, resilient pasture.  We had people at the farm recently who commented on how good these pastures were looking, and it made me step back and take a closer look at them, myself.  All I was noticing was the fact that my grasses have seed heads on them, so I know the forage quality is down.  I need to walk through each field slowly and take inventory of what is growing, what didn't make it, and where I still have bald spots that need some work (not even going to try with the thin spots on the sides of Chuck's head.  Some bald spots are just going to have to stay).  Chuck was really excited to find what he thinks is a dung beetle recently.  We've heard they mean the soil is improving, so let's hope they are right.
Say hello to Chuck's little friend.
Without a really good inspection, I can say that the alfalfa "took" and is able to withstand periods of low rainfall at least as well as anything in the field.  Seems like at one of the sustainable ag conferences I've attended, I heard a soil specialist say alfalfa roots can go many feet deep.  It's written down in my books somewhere, but they showed pictures in the seminar of how deep the roots went in undisturbed soil.  The guy was trying to point out that subsoiling has its place, but it can be overdone.  He was showing how those roots grab water, and bring up minerals from deep in the soil.  I still have concerns about the makeup of the soil in those fields because of years of tobacco being grown (which transports the nutrient away from the land) and chemical fertilizers.  At least with livestock on a pasture, the nutrient taken from it in the form of forage is returned in the form of poop.  I see both fescue seed heads that were already existing on the farm, and orchard grass seed heads which were what we added.  There is a strong stand of white clover interspersed, and down in the bottom field at least there are pockets of chicory.  I don't see any of the AU Grazer we planted, which figures, because those tiny little seeds are obviously infused with gold.  I'm thinking a soil test is in order, but I also think there is going to be a lot of difference in the soils from one spot of the field to the other. 

I am also on the quest for a new mineral blend to feed the goats.  I have heard anecdotally that the water up in the area around the farm is high in iron, which blocks the absorption of copper.  Now, I assume that means the soil is high iron, but we bring water from the house.  I guess I need to have our water at the house checked too.  I just don't think the goats look as good as they could, and I see some of the "symptoms" of copper deficiency, such as rust colored hairs on the black goats.  Copper wire particles do seem to help, and I use those over the summer to help eliminate the need to use other types of dewormers, but still... I just wonder.  I have tried to put in an order for a different mineral that I see dairy goat people using, and they are feeding for maximum milk and they like their goats to look pretty, too.  Looking pretty isn't a must on our farm, but generally, to look pretty a goat must be reasonably healthy.  Healthy is important to us.  If the mill is able to get it in, it should show up this week and we'll see if we notice a difference.  I'll report back one way or t'other.

Chuck may have bumped in to some of you guys at the Ozark sale in Springfield Missouri last weekend.  He got a later start than he would have liked on his way down there, which is pretty much par for the course for us.  He had hoped to see some of the seminars but at least made it in time to participate in the Keep or Cull contest.  In his opinion, there were some clear cut keeps and some clear cut culls but also a few that were on the bubble on way or the other.  That is pretty much true to life, I'd say.  He didn't win the free doe in the drawing, though, so I chastised him thoroughly for that, and he told me to take it up with the kid pulling out the winning name.  Free is always a plus. 

The place started off packed, but there was a smaller group that actually purchased goats.
The prices weren't as ouchy as at the Cream of the Crop, thank goodness.  They were a little higher than we would have liked, being on this side of the auction block, but hey.  It seems crazy on the one hand that a 50% doe is going for $500, but then, when you consider that at some of the slaughter sales, the goats are bringing $200 and up... you see where I am going with this.  You can't expect to get a really productive doe or one from solid, productive, parasite resistant bloodlines for the same price the dinner goats are bringing down at the stock sale.  Now I figure by the time we have percentage does for sale the market will have plummeted pretty much like any stock I have ever bought (you want a stock to tank, you just let me buy a share or two.  I have a knack) but maybe it won't, as long as the meat buyers are paying well.
The pens at the sale.

A lot goes into a replacement doe, even if we don't pour a lot of feed into them, or need to deworm them a lot.  There is time and planning above and beyond the cost of feed and fence.  Buying the breeding stock to produce these critters ain't cheap, but I will agree that chances are, if you buy a bunch of cheap goats, there's probably a reason they are cheap.  If it isn't something like a major drought or whatnot, then you just have to wonder what it is.  I am sure people find great goats for good prices, but I also know about the first goats we ever bought.  They cost a whole lot less than we have paid for our breeding stock, but I guess they served us well in that we learned to treat all sorts of diseases and disorders, to tube feed kids, to give injections and bring goats back from death's doorstep.  Those actually were some pretty good lessons, but lessons like that can be pretty discouraging for anyone new to goats. 
In the heat of the sale.

One other thing I think is discouraging to new goatkeepers is really expensive goats.  This is just my personal opinion, but I talked to some folks after the Cream of the Crop last fall, with the sky high prices, and one man in particular made me feel really bad.  He had a few goats, and he and his wife had pictures of their goats with them and were obviously proud of their kid crop, and rightly so.  They were really nice, solid looking kids.  He had come to the sale hoping to step it up a notch in his breeding program, and the prices were so darn high at that sale, he didn't get a thing.  Now, I am not saying to "fix" prices really low so the best goats go cheap, but dang.  This guy was really discouraged.  As a Kiko breeder and I would say as a huge fan of the Kiko as a breed, I want people to buy Kikos.  I want them to see for themselves that for the good goats, they aren't all hype. 

One of the does we wanted (we have her grandma) but someone else wanted her more.
When we started with goats in this area, the local experts told us point blank that Kikos were overpriced and weren't "all that."  Being stubborn, we eventually tried them anyway and made up our own mind, and the rest is history.  Had we not been able to get some decent Kikos at decent prices (they seemed high at the time, but they were sustainable, as in we could hope to get the price of the goat out of the next kid crop if the kids were good, and two kid crops if they were culls), we wouldn't be where we are today with them.  We don't get the prices around here that breeders are getting at the sales.  We just aren't there yet with our reputation and neither is the Kiko reputation in this area.  It is growing, though, and we get more and more calls each year.  I also have a hard time asking someone to pay me as much for our goats as we are paying (and have been paying) for our breeding stock.  I don't know why that is, but it is how I am wired.  I guess some of us are better business folks than others.
Our two new does in quarantine next to what the kids call "the potty with no door"
Personally, I would like to see the opening bids lower at these sales, because trust me, the goats we are there to bid on will still go sky high because they always do, but maybe there would be more opportunity for more people to get started in Kikos.  At least they would feel like they had a shot at it.  I think it would be better for the breed in the long run, because I want people to picture Kikos when they think of meat goats, and right now, they think of a Boer.  That means there need to be high numbers of GOOD Kiko goats out working on people's farms; goats of sufficient quality to thrive for the common farmer that wants to run some goats with his cows, or for the 4-H kids that want a project goat.  It might seem like we'd be losing money now, but I think it would have substantial payoffs in the long haul.

I agree that the best of the best have value above and beyond, as do some of those wonderful does who consistently outproduce themselves or prove themselves to be productive for many years past what is "typical" for a meat goat.  They should command a premium, but there should be a tier for the producer stepping up his game.  The goats may not need to be the biggest name goats, but they still have to be GOOD and they need to improve the herd into which they are introduced.  Maybe there should be a category at the sales for more tested and proven percentage does, or bucks that the local folks coming to the sale to see what Kikos are all about could afford to buy and take a gamble on.  Then after the next kidding season, they will be coming back for more and ready to take it up another notch, rather than shaking their heads in disbelief that these goats could be worth it.  A Kiko breeder who is going to drive many hours to a sale for a certain goat is ready to pay the price for that goat, but local goat breeders who may drive an hour or so just to check things out might be the future of the breed.  Who knows.  But again, this is just my opinion, and I am not expecting everyone to agree with me.  Thought I would put it out there, though.  For better or worse, I'm a little like that comedian who says "I had the right to remain silent... but not the ability."  Just ask Chuck and he can tell you some stories.  Most of the more colorful ones have to do with hot weather and me being pregnant and cranky, so hopefully you can forgive me those little lapses.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Catch up on Chuck's trip down South...

Just wanted to say a bit about Chuck's trip down to Egypt Creek Ranch to pick up Shaw... 

Chuck had been looking forward to getting down there for some times, but as I've said before, sometimes goats get in the way of life and sometimes life gets in the way of goats.  We always relish the opportunity to see how other folks are managing their goats, and what we might learn from them.  One of the things I have enjoyed most about getting in to goats is the willingness of other producers to help.  In my former job, there were some helpful people and also a bunch of guys who acted like any information they passed along was somehow like them giving away their own edge.  They guarded it jealously and basically insisted everyone figure things out themselves.  I never had much use for that.  To me, it is a waste of time.  Why on earth would I want anyone to make the same mistakes I made if I could just teach them what I have learned?  It seems far more productive to me and if there is one thing I hate it is waste.  I hate wasted time, wasted energy, and most especially, wasted brain power. 

A welcome sight as Chuck arrived at his destination.  Looks like the right place!

ECR Rusty
Chuck had a long trip down, but he was excited to arrive at Terry Hankins' place.  We look at silly little things, like what kind of shelters folks use, how they fence their fields, and what kind of forage they have their goats on.  Then, of course, we like to look at the goats themselves.  Chuck enjoyed seeing the does, and we wondered how many he could stuff in the glove box without anyone noticing,  He was reminded again that if a goat is happy, it is no trouble to keep in the fence, but if there's something on the other side of the fence it thinks it needs, there's not much keeping it in.  I should mention here that before buying him, I had contacted Shaw's former owner to ask if he was a fence jumper, and she told me the only time he ever jumped the fence was the day they brought him home.  Note to self, Shaw apparently doesn't love new places! 

Chuck got to see ECR Rusty, Shaw's sire.  The only other goat we have with Rusty in her background is tough little Kitty.  She is a Rusty granddaughter on the bottom side.  Let's hope some of her toughness came from that side!

Does in the field in Mississippi
Chuck got to see the headquarters of The Goat Rancher, which I have mentioned before is a great rag.  When we first got into goats, a local goat keeper who loaned us fence equipment (remember I said goat folks are really helpful?) gave me a huge stack of her back issues of Goat Rancher.  I bet there were five years' worth, and I read 'em all.  I admit to not always reading every article about this Boer show or that, but I read just about everything else.  This is why I know where some of those old Kiko does came from - I read about when so and so may have been the high selling goat at such and such dispersal sale, and whatnot.  There is so much useful information just waiting to be devoured, and there are obviously a lot of good writers who keep goats.  It's almost a bit uncanny. 

I  have come to love reading Frank Pinkerton's writings, and Chuck enjoyed his speaking style in person down at the 2010 AKGA seminar as much as I did.  I mean, how can you not just love a man who uses the phrase, "eat up with the dumb*ss" and it rolls off his tongue just as smoothly and naturally as breathing... I have a feeling if he hung out with me and Chuck for any length of time he'd have that expression about worn out.  Chuck bought his book while he was at the Goat Rancher office, and then he loaded Shaw and headed home.  Of course, we all know how his arrival went once he got back home.  Thankfully, he has settled in and we hope his first escape with us is his only one, as it was for his former owners.
Now those are some horns on a buck at Egypt Creek Ranch

more does at Egypt Creek Ranch
There are several sales coming up, and we are wondering what the prices are going to be like this year.  I think everyone was stunned after the Cream of the Crop sale last fall, and I, for one, hope it was just a fluke.  That may change if I am on the other side of the auctioneer, but we are still trying to amass the best herd does possible, and sky high prices make that considerably more difficult.  There is a lot that has gone in to our herd, a lot of time, and research, and effort, and travel... not to mention a wad of cash.  We may be lying low this year, and just visiting the sales and seminars for the opportunity to visit and learn a few things.  I've been trying to come up with the perfect slogan for the farm stuff like business cards and ads, and still haven't figured it out.  I thought about something like, "if they're tough enough to survive our stupidity, then they'll do great at your place" but that wasn't exactly the message I wanted to send.

We are still trying to produce great does.  That is our focus, and the bucks we produce we hope to be from such strongly maternal lines that someone could take them and use them on a group of does and then, when their daughters come, have themselves a heck of a herd of does.  It is a work in progress, of course, but each kid crop has been better than the last, so we are ever hopeful.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

He came back!!!!!

Shaw (left) next to Boomer as if nothing had happened...
I had driven all around the Beasley School area on Saturday and nobody had seen a sign of Shaw, and when Chuck went back down in the woods where he had last seen him, again, there was no sign of Shaw.  I had typed up a fancier version of my "lost goat" sign and was getting ready to leave the house to take the kids to visit Grandma, while Chuck was getting ready to go to the farm.  My phone rang, and a voice on the other end said, "is this Mary, that lost the goat?"

Now, I don't go by Mary, but it is officially my first name, so I replied that yes, yes I am the Mary that lost the goat.  She proceded to tell me that I had spoken to her husband the day before and he had told her the story, and when they passed the farm on the way to the store, he looked out and said, "well there he is, right there."  She said there was a red goat outside the fence up near the road, so I thanked her profusely and Chuck took off towards the farm immediately. 

We had some concerns that the red goat would turn out to be our red doe, Louisianna, just gone for an unsanctioned stroll.  When Chuck arrived, he did not see Shaw, but having been told he had been sighted near the front field where we had moved the bucks the day before, he started checking around the fence.  Lo and behold, there was Shaw.  Now, we know that Shaw has no great love for Chuck, and we know he has no use for Chuck's pink bucket.  Chuck called me and we had a few ideas, but he said he would take one of the goat panels on the back side of the paddock down (these are providing a temporary fenceline until we get posts and field fence down the rest of the woods).  I suggested putting some alfalfa hay out to keep the bucks occupied longer than some grain would, but apparently the bucks were more interested in what Chuck was doing to their fence than eating any hay.  He said he wasn't really worried about them getting out, because he knew he could get all but one caught easily, and even Boomer will follow a bucket into a pasture.  I wished him good luck and Godspeed and whatnot, and off Chuck went.
Shaw blends in behind Boomer
He called me back a while later (it is easy to lose time with three kids and their Grandma) and reported that Shaw was inside the fence.  This, apparently, is how it happened.  When Chuck opened the fence panel like a gate, and sprinkled feed on the ground as bait, our bucks, being pests, took it upon themselves to exit the pasture and help Chuck.  They went out milling about as if out for an afternoon stroll.  Chuck had lost sight of Shaw in the woods, so he walked down over the hill to check to see if Shaw had gone down to visit the does.  He picked up the empty bucket and sat it inside the fence on a log so it would be visible.  He noticed some movement way down in the trees, so he put a rock in the bucket and rattled it to see if that sparked any interest.  Boomer came in to investigate, but everyone else stayed out.  Chuck sat and waited.  In this picture, you can barely see Shaw outside the fence behind Boomer inside the fence.  Shaw would come a little closer, then stand for a while, then a little closer, then stand for a while, so Chuck figured he better go
fill the bucket with feed in
He's in there!

case he needed to coax the bucks back in.  He went over to the barn to get some feed, and Ace came out of the woods over next to the tobacco barn, followed by "the other three bozos" as he calls the young bucks, followed by Shaw.  Chuck started walking and shaking the bucket, and they just fell right in line behind him.  He walked to the regular gate, opened it and went in, and the bucks, including Shaw, followed him in as pretty as you please.  He couldn't believe it.  He tossed some more feed down so he could get around Shaw, so he went out and over to the side to bolt the fence back together.  The bucks came over to see what he was up to, so he tossed down a little more feed, and Shaw came over with them as if he'd been part of the "brat pack" forever.

In the front of the new field

Now everything hasn't been all peaches and cream of course, as the normal quarantine process we do pretty much fell by the wayside.  There has also been the inevitable fighting between the bucks, and while the young guys bowed out pretty quick, Ace thought he might toss his hat in the ring.  Since Boomer had already showed him what a rhinoceros might show an obstacle in his way, he didn't last long.  Unfortunately, Boomer and Shaw are a little too evenly matched.  Not only has Boomer filled out in the past year, he has been shoving his very heavy cage around to get new grass, so he's become very strong.  We wanted Boomer to be able to be in the front field on browse so he doesn't have to be fed much, but if we have trouble, we'll send him back to his Fort Knox buck pen.  As of right now it seems they've worked it out and everyone is playing nice.  We just don't need any broken horns, legs, or necks.

Tall grass in the bottom field.

Looking back on it, it is pretty obvious what we did wrong.  What is not so obvious, though, is what me might have done right.  Most of it was completely by accident.  Thinking Shaw would smell the does, we moved them down to the bottom field closest to where Chuck thinks he last saw him.  That put the bucks up in the new field.  We needed to do that anyway because the does had wiped out the new field and the bucks hadn't been able to keep up with the bottom area and it was very high.  It was high enough, actually, that the next day when Chuck went down to check the does he had a moment of panic when he saw nary a goat in the field.  He yelled and yelled and finally a couple of heads poked up out of the grass.  Eventually everyone got up and walked over, but while they were lounging, he couldn't see a single goat - not even Marshmallow with the radar horns.  This move stirred the bucks up, though, and they had spent all day Saturday scrubbing their horns on trees and getting all nice and stinky.  What this may have done is truly made our farm so Shaw could "smell us a mile away." 

The other thing Chuck did that may have helped, once Shaw was there, was let the bucks out.  He didn't really mean to let the bucks out, but he had considered it an acceptable risk because he has had to catch them enough to know he can.  Herd instinct kicked in and Shaw's fear of Chuck and the new place wasn't as strong as his desire to be in the group.  When they came in, so did he.  I hope we don't have to use this tactic again anytime soon, but at least we'll have it in our repertoire.  The eventual plan is to perimeter fence the whole place, which would have probably stopped him, but we just haven't made it that far.  We are just happy he is back.  We chose him because he is a grandson of Southwest Cisco top and bottom.  His sire is ECR Rusty (a SW Cisco son) and his mother was a SW Cisco daughter, too.  Southwest Cisco was one of the sons of the original Terminator, and we want to use him on our does that are from the lines of the other Terminator son, Terminator XX (in the form of Turbo and Wild Bill).  These goats are often considered the toughest of the tough, and that's what I want to concentrate, before going back to another line for size (gotta breed what people want) on my next cross.
Defining "Kiko tough" is Kitty and her twins.

I plan to blog about Chuck's visit down to Egypt Creek Ranch, but with all the excitement we haven't even gotten the photos uploaded.   We'll get them in, though, and I'll have some time to recount Chuck's visit.  One of these days I hope to make it down there myself.   The other thing I haven't had time to blog is that the last kids of the season have been born.  Kitty the three legged goat kidded twins - a buck and a doe.  I hope we can keep that little doe.  Her mama sure is tough as nails.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You guys aren't going to believe this...

And I don't even know quite how to begin.  I guess I will just lay it all out there.  Chuck drove to Mississippi to get our new buck and bring him home.  It was a very long trip, and Chuck took some naps on the side of the road on the way there, and on the way home.  He had a wonderful visit with Terry Hankins at Egypt Creek Ranch, and got to see the "headquarters" of Goat Rancher magazine.  While Chuck travelled there and back, I did the single mother thing to the three kids, and on Friday, when Chuck stopped at Tractor Supply on his way into town, I met him over there and showed my elderly mother our new goat. 

I went on my way with her, and Chuck went on his way towards the farm.  I picked up the kids from school, and began getting them ready for a spring carnival to be held there later in the evening.  I gave Chuck a heads up call, to remind him he only had an hour or so more before he needed to head home and get ready for the carnival.  He said he was running behind, but was almost done with what he needed to do and would try to get on the road as soon as he could.  An hour or two went by and I hadn't heard from him, but I had my hands full, so I didn't have time to think about it.  Then the phone rang, and when I said hello, Chuck said, "Shaw's gone."

"What?" I asked, incredulously.  "What do you mean, 'Shaw's gone'?"  He proceded to tell me that he wanted to get Shaw in his quarantine pen since he'd had such a long trip.  He put him in, and fastened the panels, and was turning around to get the hay and water bucket when he noticed Shaw started to spin around.  He said the thought "this is going to be bad" had just begun to form in his head when Shaw grabbed one mouthful of grass, bolted, and scrambled up and over the fence and he hit the ground running.  Chuck took off to the barn to get a bucket of feed and the gator (Chuck gets a lot of sprint training at the farm - more than the normal farmer, I'd say).  He got Shaw turned from the direction of the main road and back towards the rest of the goat pastures.  Shaw clearly had no interest in the bucket.  I guess he figured the last time someone lured him in with a bucket, he got grabbed and stuffed in a cage in the back of a truck and driven all night to parts unknown.  Chuck had noticed he never would lie down in the truck, so in hindsight, he figures he should have known the goat was pretty freaked out. 

Chuck followed Shaw down through the neighbor's place, parked the gator, then continued to chase him on foot, bucket of feed in hand, to the next farm, which is nothing but cleared tobacco land and woods.  Shaw went to the back of the cleared area, and then entered the woods.  Chuck took off after him.  He followed him down almost to the lake at the back of the property, and then lost sight of him.  All this happened, of course, before he called me to tell me what had happened.  His phone was in the truck back at the farm.  I can imagine he was hoping he wouldn't have to make that call.  I told him to go ahead and keep looking, and I would load up the kids and take them to the carnival.  I told the kids they had to be absolutely perfect because I was taking them solo, and they really were so very good until I let them get some cupcakes at the bake sale tent.  I should have known better.  After the cupcakes, the fisticuffs ensued.  I always love it when people gasp in horror as one of my kids leaps onto the other, fists flying.  I know there is a lot of research that proves sugar doesn't make kids go nuts, but either my kids are just particularly sensitive, or I have bemoaned their post sugar behavior so often they have internalized it and feel compelled to act like little Neanderthals just so I won't be disappointed (sorry, Geico caveman).

By the time I got home, I was exhausted, and Chuck had texted me that he was giving up the search for the evening as darkness was settling in.  He had even gone so far as to load Piper up in the back of the truck and drive her around as "bait."  I asked him why he chose her, since she had kids and wasn't going to act like she was in heat.  He answered, "because she is the loudest."  I saw his point, but also thought that if the blaaaahhs coming out of the goat were translatable as "I can't stand this guy, he shoved me in the truck" it might not be such a great thing.  What he needs is a doe coming in heat in the back of the truck, blaahing out the goat equivalent of the redneck girl's pickup line... "hey y'all, I'm so drunk!"  To that end, I have a call in to the vet to see how far a buck can detect a doe in heat on the wind, and to get a shot to bring some unbred does in heat just in case it helps.  I kinda figure Shaw is halfway to Mississippi by now, though, so it may be a moot point.

I try to retain my Zen about this sort of thing.  A friend of mine that I emailed about it was saying she'd be putting her fist through the wall.  As crazy as it sounds, I had emailed her earlier in the day that I was going to have Chuck give him some Bovi Sera because I didn't want him to drop dead before he bred a single doe.  I just kinda had a feeling something was going to happen and I was never going to get any kids from him, but unfortunately my little feeling was that he'd catch pneumonia, not run away.  Usually being a glass half empty sort of girl works out for me.  Well, who am I trying to kid - my glass is always plumb empty with a hole in it.  It makes me pretty good at thinking of eveything that could go wrong, and I'm too type A to not try to prepare for all those things my mind has told me could possibly go wrong.  Chuck gets really tired of my paranoia, but sometimes he will look at me and say, "how did you know that was going to happen?" and I just have to say it is because it is the worst possible scenario, and that is how my mind works.  This time, I missed the mark and didn't think of everything, so I did what any other goat farmer would do after such a day.  I grabbed the baby and drew a nice hot bath, and lost myself in watching her joy at splashing in the water.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a setback, but not worth falling apart about. There are things in this world I couldn't handle, but they are the dark fears that live in every mother's heart, the sorts of things I dare not even put down on paper, because I'm afraid it would tempt fate to see what really would end me.

Although my little feeling tells me we ain't never gonna see this goat again, I have put up a flyer at the local eatery, and will put up some more.  I drove around today, and when I saw folks out working in their yards, I pulled over and prefaced my introduction with, "I know this sounds crazy, but we've lost our goat."  I had a lot of strange looks out of folks, and I met some people who had spent their childhood summers picking up coke bottles (back in the day when a discarded bottle would earn you the deposit back when you turned it in) off the side of the road on the way to my great grandfather's country store (Shelton Store is still on most maps) and they said they usually managed to get enough money for their efforts to buy a little something once they got there.   Virginia rode with me, and she slept as I drove.  I came across some folks that had seen Chuck driving around the day before with Piper in the truck, and I suppose I at least answered some of the questions they had about the suspicious guy with the goat in his truck out driving around really slow and staring off into the woods.  I also came across some gravel roads that went through woods so thick and tangled that a goat, barring coyotes or hunters, could live forever and never be seen by a human eye.  Every now and then, I almost thought I heard a banjo playing in the distance.

Now, I always say that I want my blog entries to be helpful to folks, so let's start with all the things we did wrong.  Even though this is pretty darn embarrassing, I hope that at some point in the future when someone is bringing home goats and they're getting ready to get them out, that if something gives them pause about the setup, they remember this and say to themselves, "hmm... I remember when Chuck had that buck get out and take off" and they make the changes necessary to avoid having the same thing happen.  I could say in hindsight that the first thing we did wrong was buy Shaw, but that would be unfair, and I sure did want to add that Terminator through Southwest Cisco back into the herd.  We could have turned him out with the other goats, but I still don't like to bring anything to the farm without quarantining it for everybody's sake.  What we should have done is move Boomer out of the Fort Knox of buck pens we've built for him, and put Shaw in there.  It has sides high enough I have to lean waaaaay back and heave the hay up and over the top.  I'm not sure they are fully seven feet high, but they are close.   We also could have set up an electronet aound the outside of the pen just as a secondary barrier, or something for him to have gotten tangled up in so Chuck could at least have had a chance to get to him and snag him.  We've had goats get out before, but never had them just flat out run.  Chuck says that is what surprised him most - the fact that Shaw just ran like a scalded dog.  He only stopped twice the entire time to pause and look at Chuck and his bucket before spinning back around and bolting.  Maybe he didn't like the pink bucket.  We have all sorts of colors, but Chuck had grabbed a pink one from the barn.  He says if you are going to go running after goats through your neighbors' yards you could at least save yourself the embarrassment of doing it with a pink bucket in your hand.   I also want to ask all those people with goats in old holey fences how they keep them in.  There are some goats and Pyrenees down the road from the house with two strands of hot wire standing maybe 28" high.  And their goats don't ever get out!  Do they mix Benadryl in the feed, or what?  It is amazing to me how they get them to stay put.

I feel badly for poor old Chuck.  He has the worst luck of anyone I have ever seen.  I mean, how many people do you know that have actually been attacked by stinging caterpillars?  He said the moment he put Shaw in the pen, the look of panic on Shaw's face told him he had chosen poorly, but at that point, it was too late.  Besides the whole money lost issue, which smarts pretty badly, I hate it because he looked like a good buck, and it is just one more thing.  Just once it would be nice to be the windshield.  I know we sure are tired of being the bug.

As usual on even a non goat hunting Saturday night, the kids and I drove home in the dark and left Chuck finishing up.  The kids were asleep, and I listened to Back Porch Music as is my custom.  I heard the most beautiful song.  It is sad, and poignant, and interestingly, is set in the county next to mine.  Stokes County is just west of Rockingham County, where the city of Eden lies.  I am going to try to link the song off of here, but in case it doesn't work, the song is called "Leaving Eden" and it is being covered by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  I hope you enjoy it.  Oh, and if you happen to be between here and Mississippi, and you see a red roan buck goat on the side of the road with a sign that says "Mississippi or bust," how about giving us a holler.  We sure would like to get him back.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itTJhMSDe3U&feature=related