Walk in the Autumn Woods

One of the most fun things about owning goats is taking them on a walk in the woods.  Goats are natural browsers like deer, as opposed to grazers such as cattle.  Goats prefer to reach upward for their food, rather than down to the ground.  This is a natural instinctual response, as goats are less likely to pick up parasites when reaching for tree branches and brush, than from close-cropped pasture ground.  In The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, Juliette de Bairacli Levy writes:  "A health rule for goat care is to walk the herd ... through woodland.  When trained, they will not stray from their keeper and that herbal and twiggy-eating walk will ensure them great health."  It is amazing to know that goats have a natural instinct as to what is healthful for their bodies, and harmful.  The herd queen will check out any new plant and determine whether it is suitable, and the rest of the herd will then follow her lead.  


Nutritionally and physically, not only is a walk in the woods healthful to the goats, it is also enjoyable for the goats and their owners!  I love evening walks with the herd because that's when they display their most entertaining antics and their individual personalities are on full display.  Herd queen Kizzy is alert, ears pricked and eyes sharp, making sure there are no threats to her companions.  Daredevil Cala takes the lead exploring new paths and scrambling on tree trunks and rocks.  Trillium is the best forager, probably because at her former home, Christine also led her goats on daily walks in the woods.  Kizzy and Cala keep an eye on whatever Trillium finds and have to have a chomp too.  On the walk, little Cadence displays her full name meaning to perfection.... she prances and caprioles with rhythm beside the older goats.  The goats love to play-fight with one another, bounding up on their hind legs and butting heads, reminiscent of their distant mountain goat ancestry.  When they have eaten their fill of blackberry and raspberry brambles, wild strawberry vines, pine needles, beech leaves, herbs and weeds, they will often lay down on a bed of soft pine needles and gaze with contentment at their surroundings.  Then a few moments later they will be up with a bound, ready for another forage, or to demand that I give them some attention.  And when the sun sets behind the horizon and the light begins to dim, back we go, all in a row, down the woods path.


noble, calm, herd queen royalty

mama and doeling

sweet Trillium, reflecting autumn's golden glow

eyes of  honey-gold