Friday, May 1, 2015

meeting the matriarch

Today I moved all the goats out of the South Paddock,
so Tsuga could bring her babies down
and introduce them to the bigger goats, 
through the safety of a fence.

Also, so Tsuga could really run around and kick up her heels.
Which she did.

The babies discovered a rock that,
compared to their rock by the barn, is a massif.
It is a continent.

They were ready for the challenge!

Scrambling up, and leaping off.
Over and over and over.

There was a lot of exploring.
Goats explore mostly with their mouths.

Here is Tsuga,
starting her daughter off on what could be
a lifetime of tree destruction.
Nice job, Tsuga!
(If I want to keep particular trees alive here,
it is up to me to keep the goats well away from them.)

I was keeping as eye on interactions through the fence,
to make sure the big goats wouldn't get too rough.
(A goat smashing its head against a fence,
especially when you are a goat on the other side of that fence,
can be a very scary thing.)

Most of all, I was looking forward to seeing LeShodu,
the Matriarch,
meet her greatgrandkids.

I perched in one doorway of the little raised barn,
so I'd have a bird's-eye view.
(A low-flying bird, but still.)

Betula thought this was a great idea.
He immediately trotted up the ramp and 
joined me at the adjacent door.

That lasted about two minutes.
Then he moved over to share my doorway instead.

Even some of the hens had front-row seats!

Right on cue:
LeShodu walked out from her shady spot under the barn.

Tsuga saw her from across the South Paddock
and ran straight over with her kids.
They all stood at the fence, 
very smart and lovely,
looking through at LeShodu
who was only a few feet away.

Here's what LeShodu did:

She ignored them.

She very deliberately Did Not See Them.

She turned broadside to the fence.
She yawned dramatically.

She looked away from Tsuga and the kids, Very Hard.

Then she walked right back into the shade under the barn.


I said, "Betula, did you see that?"

And Betula said quietly -
because he was only a centimeter from my ear -

"My mother has always been...complicated."

Oh, Shodu.

Well, it could have been worse.

The babies didn't seem to feel the snub, by the way...

They scampered off and got busy deciding
how to take down this red maple.

I have no doubt of their eventual success.


  1. awww - such cute little goats. Not so sure I would want to be on the wrong side of LeShodu though!

    1. LeShodu can flatten with a look - doesn't even need the horns!

  2. I don't know which of these shots is amaze me with the camera turned on your wildlife! Flying babies...goats on your shoulder...Old LeShodu - I wish I was you! Happy Weekend, my friend - XOXO

    1. Ha! I wish you were, too...then I could take the weekend off ;)

  3. Oh yes, there have been people in my life that I have looked very hard away from. But never my grandchildren. Fortunately, all mothers have eyes in the backs of our heads, and so I am sure LeShodu enjoyed her first glimpse of the Littles even so.

    1. Well, I *try* not to apply human expectations to non-human behaviors, but admit I was initially a tiny bit sad that Shodu ignored Tsuga and her kids, standing there all bright and shiny. Then I realized it was probably a hugely positive thing that she DID ignore them instead of going over and bashing the fence with all her might. Which was an entirely possible scenario! I'm sure all of LeShodu's "ruling with an iron hoof" behavior makes perfect sense to her, and possibly to all the other goats, but I do have to remind myself of that from time to time :)

  4. Thank you! Wonderful pictures and story. Ah, the politics of being a goat. lol

  5. I think she's enforcing respect by showing them she's not to be messed with!! She intimidated me and I wasn't even there! What marvelous pics.

    1. You are absolutely right, and she has a VERY important role as undisputed herd boss. But some "boss" critters use a "least amount of force necessary" approach, which I LOVE - such as a simple tilt of the horn from even quite a distance away. (As you say about long-distance intimidation - it's a thing!) I've often suggested to Shodu that she could just as effectively be a Benevolent Dictator, usually pointing this out between gritted teeth as I pull her away from bashing another goat relentlessly.

  6. What a fun read; love all the photos. Herd mentality - I call it piggy politics with the guinea pigs. It's important to let everyone know who's in charge.

  7. Awww...I miss goats. Haven't had them in 35 years but your post sure brought back memories.


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