I have taken Granny’s advice. In the evening, when I get home, after I’ve kissed Samantha and the girls, I take a few minutes and spend them out back with Honey and Harriet.
In this case Granny is not my grandmother. She’s the pen (er, keyboard?)behind All Seasons Homestead Helpers and one of my first supporters. Granny has encouraged me through many a dry spell and prompted me to keep writing even why I didn’t think I had anything to write.
In an earlier post about the goats and the ridiculous games they put me through with necessary tasks like changing the batteries on their collars or trimming their hooves. She gave me this advice,
Surprise them. Show up with treats (and no other agenda) and make 5 minutes of “quality time” (as you put it) every day for a while and see what happens. Not that I know anything about goats, but I think I grasp a bit about “connecting” with critters. I can see you next time you have a beer after work, just standing with the goats while they nibble on the carrots you just brought, telling them about your day in a friendly voice. They’ll say, “Bhaaaa, now you’re talking!”
Clearly, she’s a wise woman. So I take with me a cup of dry corn and a cup of sweet feed in an old coffee can. I walk over to one of the stumps I left and sit down. There I shake the coffee can, one of two my uncle sent with me from the farm.
“You know you’ll need these. You can’t have goats without a coffee can,” he joked.
My grandfather comes from that school of older gentlemen who buys his coffee pre-ground in number 10 sized cans. They populate the entire farm and there’s usually one in arms reach no matter where you are on the farm. I’ve seen them used to collect eggs, distribute feed, hold nails, tools and just about anything else that might fit in them.
So here I sit, shaking my can, calling to the girls.
The first day, they ignored me for a good fifteen minutes. Finally, Honey the three legged alpha, could stand it no more and came up to see what I was carrying on about. Harriet would have nothing to do with me. Once Honey realized I had food she warily ate from my hand. Any shift of my foot or move to scratch a mosquito bite had her scampering out of reach.
Really, what did I do to deserve this treatment?
On the second day. Harriet still had zero interest in Dave. She could see Honey getting the “good stuff” but wasn’t about to be lulled into any sense of security. Honey, however, munched contentedly out of my hand, becoming more bold with each bite. At one point she tried to thrust her head into the can having decided that my manual distribution was much too slow.
Yesterday, Harriet gave in. She could stand no more to watch Honey take full advantage of yet another day of afternoon treats. She came up, within my reach and nibbled corn and sweet feed out of my hand. Honey became down right comfortable. She and Harriet would both eat from my hand at the same time, but Honey would position herself for premium access even to the point of invading my personal space.
I still don’t know what this says of their intelligence. I expect Granny would want me to be kind, to see their greater natures and to realize they’ve been playing me all along. My own ego just might point out that they’re just mobile stomachs with advanced pain and discomfort detectors. I suspect Granny is more right.