As the weather goes from autumnal to arctic, I can spend less and less time with my outdoor friends--my goats and chickens. So I start to feel guilty.
Every time I step out the back door, the goats call out to me and the chickens flock to the fence, expecting me to do what I usually do with them: open the gate to the "back forty" (the wide open spaces out behind their fenced in, safe area) and let them eat, dig and mess around out there.
But it's too cold for me to stay out more than a few minutes, even bundled up, so I usually just let the goats out onto the back lawn this time of year for a few minutes of grass-eating and coat-rubbing.
The two "dairy" goats (Maggie and her son Mr. Tumnus) and Jazzy (the mama of the three pygmy goats) are the three who come right on over to me for scratches and rubs. The rest of the gang--Romeo, Juliet and Tillie--are less hands-on.
Tillie would be more hands on but since she's the littlest one on this place, she spends a lot of time making sure the others know she can be hell on wheels if they try to give her a hard time, so she only comes over for petting after she has established herself as no pushover. She can haul off and head butt with the best of them; and she does. (None of my goats butt me. They just butt each other. Thankfully!) This time of year, by the time she has done that, I'm frozen and ready to put them back inside the fence...so she isn't getting her usual amount of petting. Not that she notices, but I do. I feel guilty--but I'd feel guiltier succumbing to the elements. Then they'd never get out again, Jackie would probably sell them, and God knows what would happen to them then. (Most of them are "meat goats". Even if she said, "They're pets and blackberry eaters ONLY, not for food," there is no way to strictly enforce that after they officially belong to somebody else.)
Even though they're less than 60 days away from turning three years old, I still think of them as "my babies." Can't help it... I was with them as they were born. They think I'm part of their herd. I'm sure they can't understand why I don't bed down with them at night, or eat hay and grain with them.
I'm goat-ally devoted to them. I miss them when I can't be with them as much as I am spring, summer and fall.
Remember my "kids" at less than a month old? Remember?