Livestock Guardian Goats

Sargent Feathers, Corporal Denim and Tank all broke out in a loud, raucous screeching this morning around 10 a.m. Knowing this is their warning cry, I ran out of the rabbit room and outside to the back deck where my livestock guardian goats were all standing at attention, eyes focused up in the trees, while the roosters and some of the hens fluttered about near their feet; the rest of the girls had scattered. My guess is the goats had been sunning themselves on the deck when the Sargent awakened them…rudely. Trust me…this is not a noise you can readily sleep through.

Goats are not necessarily what one thinks of as a guardian but Felicity, especially, is very protective of her feathery friends. Though she’s not above head-butting them out of her way to the feed bowl each morning, heaven help the creature who tries to nab one of them in the yard. Last summer’s unfortunate skunking is a perfect example. Felicity may not have received the full force of Mr. Skunk’s defense mechanism, but a few droplets did hit her…and should have been enough to teach her a lesson. I’m not sure though that the lesson took hold. If we are ever unfortunate enough to receive such a visitor again, Felicity is liable to go on the rampage again. Not on her watch, you don’t. And Prudence the Plymouth Barred Rock chicken will readily jump up on Chester’s back if Duncan and Dweezil suddenly become too amorous again. They may not be traditional guardians but the chickens have certainly found that having them near is a safer place to be.

Of course, the moment I walked out onto the back deck, the goats trotted over, eyes bright, ever hopeful and nuzzling my hands in the most obvious of body languages: Got any treats???

Sorry, guys!

I did a quick headcount, finding most of the hens in the coop, all huddled in the corner under the Japanese knotweed. Taffy and Kiel were inside the henhouse; a couple of girls ran into the goat barn. Though the ducks were quacking, excitedly, they stood milling around outside the goat barn. There were still three hens missing, however.

As I walked back out of the goat barn, I discovered the cause of all the commotion. I’m not sure what kind of hawk it was but it had a pretty good-sized wingspan. Seeing me emerging from the barn must’ve spooked it. It flew off of the branch it had perched upon, overlooking the yard, and flew into the woods behind us. I didn’t think it had gone far though so I stayed outside a little longer to make sure, still searching for the three missing hens. As I started back towards the house, one of my Americaunas crawled out from under the deck. Mystery solved.

I went back inside then returned again with my glasses to see if I could spot the hawk better but he/she was nowhere to be seen. And, so far, all has been quiet outside. The last time I checked, the goats were still sunning themselves…with a circle of feathery friends staying close and near. What are friends for?

May God bless you & keep you!

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