A Buck, A Bath

As if there's nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon, I decided it was time for Hercules (our Boer Goat Buck) to get a bath. Hercules is not a show goat; he is our working sire, with lots of ladies to take care of. A buck goat is gifted with a special aroma which is generated by scent glands located behind his horns. If that wasn't enough, like male deer they accentuate that scent by spraying themselves with their own urine. There's no smell to compare . . . not chicken houses, not hog pens, not paper mills -- nothing.

The scent doesn't get strong until they mature . . . it seems that their odor is the ultimate "Musk" cologne. Oddly enough, the female goats in heat are highly attracted to the mature buck, actually rubbing their heads and necks on him as if Oscar or Channel No. 5 was on tap. Until this mating season, our buck had virtually no discernible "foul" scent, but when the rut began it was as if someone had uncorked a skunk -- perhaps a dead skunk. What's a goat herder to do?

As all these scents and hormones begin their odoriferous medley of eye and nose burning choruses, it gets harder and harder to sell the cute young ones to first time buyers. You can almost see the "light bulb" come on when they realize their little 40 pound buckling will grow into a 200 to 300 pound musk bomb.

First stop? Wal-mart. First purchase? Large bottle of baby shampoo . . . very large. Our goats have a strong disdain for water . . . they run to the sheds just as soon as the first few drops of rain begin to fall. Some people keep their goats by putting them on an island . . no fencing required!

So, how does one shampoo a goat? Let me first mention that male goats and bulls have a lot in common. They become dominant -- territorial -- even pushy and downright ornery. For instance, Hercules (who now weighs about 275) truly enjoys ramming things . . . all in good fun, of course. You see, gates were designed to be rammed as were fence posts, barn walls, and other goats. On occasion, Hercules has thought I looked like an object worthy of ramming. Hence, I carry a short stick with me when I enter his paddock. I call it my equalizer. A quick rap on his horns and he returns to the gentle buck I raised from a kid.

As our herd sire, Hercules is our prized possession. He sires beautiful kids and with all his billygoatness, he's never abused one of the little kids. In fact, when nobody else can share his feed trough, he'll share with one of his young male offspring. This is a mystery to me.

This afternoon, I called Hercules to the main gate where I place a lead around his neck and led him to the fitting stand. I didn't know what to expect -- but then, neither did Hercules. Did I mention that high humidity causes his powerful scent to just "hang" in the air? With my hose nozzle set to "shower" I began to soak him down and believe it or not, he seemed to enjoy it! I took the bottle of baby shampoo and poured about a cup down the ridge of his back and began his shampooing. I couldn't believe it! He just stood there . . . he didn't complain, didn't pull and didn't fight or bite or kick. His legs were the worst . . . stained an iodine red from being urinated on so much. I offered to let Pat do them, but she declined.

About thirty minutes and 12 ounces of shampoo later, I had the cleanest buck in Lawrence County Tennessee. He'd even allowed me to shampoo his face and beard. While he was in the beauty parlor, we gave him a pedicure, updated his shots, and polished his horns. Using our blow dryer, I blew the water off him. There were parts of this drying he didn't like, but he didn't fight to much.

Oh, he looked magnificent standing there! His white and red fur was squeaky clean. He almost looked proud. When I released him, he quickly rejoined the herd. A few of the old nannies checked out his "baby fresh" new scent. In the sun, he was radiant!

So, why was it so important to share this day in the life of a goat herder? Well, I can tell you for a fact that the old adage "smells like a wet nanny goat" waxes small in comparison to "smells like a wet billygoat!" I'm glad they run for cover when it rains!

Later that evening, Hercules sidled up next to me and began to rub his handsome face against my pants . . . and guess what? He now smells like a wet billygoat who got shampooed with baby shampoo. The two odors do not mix well . . . I think sickly sweet would be an accurate description. But, at least my eyes don't water when I'm standing next to him.

With apologies to Doc who first sent a version of this tale to the Boergoat e-group many years ago.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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