I think at last count, the G-Man and I figured up we have 20 goats with the new babies. We lost several over the hard winter, I hear it was a bad year for goats round these parts. In late February, we thinned the herd by relocating several of the billys to a new home. Some of the goats have very creative names, such as Tubby, Crybaby or Fathead. Some have actual names like Todd, Missy, Sam or Bob. Others have names that just kind of stuck based on their coloring, looks or personality such as Black Momma, Tan Girl, Lil Bit & Bitch. There are a few who remain nameless, and as they earn a name, they are so dubbed.
Today is the story of how Greedy Gretchen got her name. I have to be honest here, Greedy Gretchen has an affliction that we have seen in a few other goats, unfortunately for her and maybe more unfortunately for us, with her it seems to be terminal, or at least, there will be no cure for a good long while. You see… Greedy Gretchen has HTF Syndrome, aka Head Through Fence Syndrome. For all her life, or at least ever since her horns grew a bit too long she was referred to in a variety of not very flattering names, most of which started with “Stupid” or “Dufus”. You see, she is the epitome of the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” She is quite skilled at pushing her head through that fence to nibble the greens on the other side. Once through, she is good and stuck, as she is evidently not savvy enough to figure out how to maneuver her horns back through. She has even been known to wander to the neighbor’s and get her head stuck in their fence, thus the names beginning with Stupid.
No less than 10 times a day do we go out and release her from her self imposed fence necklace. Let her out of one side, and by the time we walk around the pen it is a good bet she will be stuck on the other side. I have to admit, if we are super busy outside, there have been times we tell her she just has to wait if she is really that dumb.
I thought I would share her name story through pictures…
It always starts out he same way, she sees them greens on the other side of the fence, and just can’t resist.
I must give her credit, though, she has wised up enough to know she might be stuck for a while, so she has perfected the kneel and eat stance. Some of the others can get their head through the fence, but they generally always get themselves back out.
The other goats move on, and once she has eaten all she can reach, she just lays down. Now she generally always picks the third hole from the bottom. Any lower, and the holes are smaller, and she learned the hard way with a good head and ear scraping that it is harder to get her head out of the fence, and any higher, and she can’t just lay her butt down until her rescuer comes to save her. Please note the goats eating good fresh greens right behind her in the pen. What a dufus!
Most times this is the look I get. As if to say, “Come on girl human, get me out of here”. At first when I tried she would freak out, and pinch my fingers in the fence, but we have a love hate relationship now, she loves me when I come to free her, and will not come within 10 feet of me once she is free. I guess I love her enough to not leave her in the fence for hours on end, then hate it that she acts much like a human teenager, thankful for what you do for a moment, then back to the ungratefulness 2 minutes later. But I just don’t have the heart to leave her hung up like that all day.
She has learned that I cannot get her head out without some help on her side of the fence, and that requires standing up. More than once she got it in her head she knew better, and continued to lay there. I would make the attempt to get her head out, and she would do no work to help at all. Again, slightly reminiscent of the wily human teen, just expecting the adult type human to make it happen with no effort on her part. More than once I told her “I cannot help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself,” and walked off. Now she knows she has to help me help her get out.
Grab her by the horns, and the chin, stretch her head out straight, a little turn to the left, fit the horns in the edges of the fence hole, a little shove to the snout. She pulls back, and viola, she is free.
Now I always talk to these animals out here, I don’t think they really care what I have to say, but I will give them credit, in that they are pretty darn good listeners. Especially Gretchen, when she is stuck. So one day as I was walking up to release her, I says “What are we gonna do with you? You are like Greedy Gretchen always sticking your head through the fence to get them greens.” The name seemed so appropriate, after making the suggestion to the G-Man, Stupid____ or Dufus became Greedy Gretchen. Not to say that we do not still use the terms of endearment in combination with her new name.
It used to be when we would leave the house for whatever reason as we approached the homestead we would take bets as to whether she would be stuck in the fence when we got home. It got to the point that it was a given, so we started betting which side she would be in. Now we are down to exactly which section of fence she has chosen.
HTF Syndrome has really hit her hard, and there is only one true cure for it. That would be for her horns to finally grow long enough she can no longer get them through the hole. There is a short term fix, but I don’t think either one of us has the heart to actually hold her down and duct tape a pvc pipe to her horns to prevent her getting through. She might inadvertently hurt herself or another goat that way. So until she wises up, or her horns grow long enough our days will be filled with dealing with Greedy Gretchen’s HTF Syndrome.