Managing a Ranch

That’s another issue I have. Being an only child, I don’t like being alone. I didn’t like it when growing up and I don’t like it now. Guess that’s why we have so many animals. I’m never alone anymore; not in the house, the front yard, nor the back yard. Actually my yards are pastures with goats and chickens living in the front pasture; cats and dogs in the house; and goats and horses in the back pasture. I’m surrounded by critters and love it.

Most of my companions don’t speak English but they do communicate through their body language and in their own way. It’s educational living with so many animals because they’ve expected me to learn their method of communicating and, believe me, everyone has an opinion.

Ears and tails speak volumns. The most common communiques are the “notice” ears, the “what’s happening” ears, and the “I don’t like that” ears. Generally speaking with all our animals the “notice” ears are pointed toward the sound so that every nuance can be heard so I know which way to look. But generalities end there.

The “what’s happening” ears, for instance, give the impression of something strange or different or signaling caution. With goats their “what’s happening” ears stick straight out like airplane wings. With dogs, German Shorthaire Pointers that is, the “what’s happening” ears are cupped like tulips. Horses, on the other hand, have an exagerated “what’s happening”; they show you their backside as they flee the scene.

The “I don’t like that” ears for the horses are the most memorable. They’re flat against their head. And I mean f-l-a-t. There’s a difference in flat and f-l-a-t. When their ears are simply turned backward listening to a sound in that direction, they’re backward, not flat. But when it looks like the horse’s ears have disappeared, move out of the way and give that 1600 pound animal all the space he wants.

Cats “I don’t like that” ears are flat across their head giving their it a flat appearance. (Still not as flat as a mad horse.) But those tails are what you have to watch out for. Cat tails never stop moving. That tells me that cats are alwways thinking. Unfortunately those cat thoughts are beyond the scope of this article. Surely some animal science graduate student has written a research paper on cat tail communiques. If I ever find a paper like that, I’ll let you now. But in the meantime, just be cautions when approaching a cat with a slowly swishing tail.

My favorite communication is when someone wants attention. Everyone and I mean everyone comes and stands near me, or they’ll brush up against me. Just to make sure I see them. And if I don’t respond quickly enough, they’ll pace back and forth until I either talk to them or touch them. Then there’s Lester, our nubian/boer cross. He rubs his head against my backside; not butting me but rubbing and rubbing and rubbing until I do something. He’s a real love.

It does my heart good to see critters running to me when I leave the front porch or when I open the garage door; it’s their signals that I’m coming their way. (I don’t chase animals. ‘Cause I lose every time.)

Although I could use a little more space when it comes to the dogs, especialy Lilly. They’re all so in-tune with me that they know when I starting to wake up in the morning; but, Lilly knows when my breathing changes and she starts barking before I’m fully awake. Now I have this game where I attempt to sneak out of the bedroom and let the dogs (and husband) sleep. Most of time I don’t get away with it but ocassionally they let me sneak out without barking. That’s when I get to be alone for a few minutes before the day begins.

You know, maybe being along isn’t so bad. After all, if more folks were out here, would I have the time and inclination to learn so many body languages surrounding me. I suppose it’s what you do with your time that counts.

After all, enough folks are out here. Managing a ranch, making soaps, and selling goats requires loads of help, shipments, and deliveries. But in betwen all these activities, I still have the time and inclinatin to learn about the body languates surrounding me. Through the years I’ve learn that it’s what you do with your time that counts.

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