The goat is naturally wilder than most breeds of sheep, but when made a pet of is more of a companion than a sheep would be. Their note of alarm is, I think, made through the nose, but has a thick-lipped sound: the nearest I can write it is “purrup.”
The kid is hidden away, and the mother comes to it at long intervals. Even when well grown and following in the flock the kid is liable to “plant” or bolt away for hiding when the flock is mustered. They will even lay in hiding with closed eyes, the more readily to escape detection.
Goats when handled mostly cry out; they are not like sheep, “dumb before her shearers.” Angora goats shed or cast their wool so soon as the spring grass is eaten, the wool becoming matted and peeling off, which is a considerable drawback. It is remarkable to see that they strip the bark from some trees higher than 8 ft. from the ground, and also will bend a tall thin stem having foliage beyond their reach by taking the butt in their mouth and bending it over, continuing to pass the mouth along towards its extremity until the top is reached, which they cut off by the back teeth as if by a pair of scissors.
They soon become accustomed to be fastened by a tether-line, but, like all animals with which I have had experience, they wind their rope around the tether-peg. They require a swivel on the rope, otherwise by always going round the same way they unlay the strands of the rope. Why animals always persist in making the circle in one direction only, and never or rarely go in an opposite direction, is truly remarkable. This habit will cause a tethered animal to starve to death if not constantly attended to, for it will become wound up short by the neck or head. Why is this? Can it be because of rightor left-leggedness, as the leading off with one particular leg?
A circus-horse would require to lead with the outer fore-leg—that is, the leg further from the centre of the circle. In going the reverse way about the leading leg would require changing, but this mode of action more especially depends on cantering or galloping. I recommend the study of this theme to those who have time and methodical patience. If you take a dog, and fasten him to a stake a small distance from his kennel, allowing him room to get round it, you will soon see him wound short up and crying because he is unable to enter the kennel. He never by any chance sees the necessity of walking round the stake the opposite way, but will remain so shortened up until he dies, although food and water may be only the length of the chain away. Notice the chain is fitted with a swivel, and why? Because we know by experience (without understanding) that the dog will actually “go around himself,” and so, if there be no swivel, knot the chain short up. He never by any chance will turn the opposite way, and so take the turns out of the chain and benefit by its full length.
I have, unfortunately, never taken special note as to whether, say, one goat may go right about and another left about, or must they all go round the same way as the sun, as we are told to stir the pudding in the making.
After the manner of the rams and bulls, the buck goats associate together for half the year. This inherited instinct no doubt descends to them along the branches of the same ancestral tree.
I have no evidence of the goat suffering from Œstrus grubs, but have noticed them fight the fly by stamping on it, and by the goat rubbing its nose along the ground as if to clear away the insect or its eggs.