I don’t know if this is really worthy of the Tales of the Pregnant Farmer files but that’s where it’s going today!
Every four months or so the goats need their hooves trimmed and New Year’s was the perfect day to get it done. I bundled up (yes, my coveralls still fit), put a roll of saltines in my pocket and headed out to the barn.
Over the summer my hoof trimming technique was… learned. Perfected is still down the road, but I know what I’m shoot’n for and haven’t over-trimmed anyone yet. Hank is still stinky and in a pen of his own, so I climbed over the fence into the other pen first. I have learned that Clyde is the hardest to catch when it’s trimming time so he got to go first. I pulled the roll of crackers out of my pocket and I had three of the world’s most starved goats, or so one would think. Clyde was pretty easy to get a hold of when he was preoccupied with a soda cracker.
Front hooves first. I got his head pinned between my knees and lifted his leg to start trimming. This takes a bit of balance as it is. I’m standing on uneven hay, with the other two very curious to see what’s going on. So curious in fact that to get a better view they are peering over my shoulder. Yes, there I was bent over, Clyde’s head pinned between my knees, trimmer in one hand, goat leg in the other, with both of Scarlet’s hooves on my left shoulder and Lyle perched on my right. Their little noses busy by my cheeks. I should have gotten a picture, but I kinda had my hands full. I can only imagine it was quite a sight.
Then for the back ones. After struggling with a jumpy, “kicky”, Clyde, I change the routine a bit. The other two got their front hooves done the same but when it came time for the back, I grabbed them a little quicker, it was just enough to get them to stiffen up so I could easily lay them on their side. I would think they would be expecting something as I still had hold of them from trimming their front; it worked either way. I got them laid down and was able to keep them pinned long enough to get everybody’s toes look’n nice.
Mike walked in the barn as I was just finishing up with Lyle. Perfect timing to help with Big Hank! He’s not as smelly as he was this fall but he hasn’t had a bath either. I don’t think you bathe goats unless you’re going to show them at the county fair or something… I’m not about to start anyway. He stinks, there’s no denying that. It’s not horrible, but it’s distinct that’s for sure. It’s not “what’s that smell?”, it’s “Ooh, that’s Hank.” Mike and I climbed over the fence and into Hank’s pen (that alone make us smell like Hank). There’s no gate, by the way, that’s why we had to climb. We could have went through the gate in the outside pen, but then would have had to crawl through the little goat door in the barn. Climbing is easier.
Mike got the job of holding Hank down. With the extra help, I told him my “grab the back leg” trick, that way Hank got to lay on his side for the whole “pedicure”. For the rest of the day, even after washing up and changing clothes, all I could smell was Hank. But at least his toes look nice.
The main reason that we have to trim their hooves at all is because they aren’t walking on rocky terrain every day, to keep them nicely filed naturally. There are a few rock piles in their pen to play on but not enough to do the job. If they get over grown, the nail will cover the bottoms of the hooves. They can trap “gook” (technical term there). They can get spongy and rot which leads to even bigger problems. When properly trimmed, their hooves are really cool, they’re kinda “grippy” (another technical term). It really is neat though!
It should be noted that their hooves can rot even when trimmed if they don’t have a dry place to stand. So in the spring, when they ground is really soft and the rain is, well, frequent, it’s really important the goats have a dry place to be.