Stood around talking to my neighbor Shelly for a long time this morning when I walked down the road to get more goat's milk for Phoenix. I'd decided that maybe I really did want to disbud (remove the horns of) the two little boy goats after all; Jenny's quite scared of the momma goat even though her horns are not very long; she and Katie enjoy these little guys so much that I'd hate to have them scared of Phoenix and Gryphon as their horns start to grow. Jenny's been hanging out with them for hours every afternoon since last weekend, when the Two Stooges (aka Daddy and I) built a little (75'x75') fenced-in area in the front yard for momma goat and her boys.
Shelly said that she and Cheryl (who also has goats and runs 4H here in town) were going to disbud some new baby goats today and that they'd come by and check to see if Phoenix and Gryphon's horns were still small enough to burn off.
Now, Phoenix is so small that he really just had little tiny bumps and the disbudding was no big deal. They clipped his hair around the horns and then used a hot horn-burning-off thing (no idea what it's called; it looked kind of like a tubular wood burning tool). Gryphon, who is HUGE, was a different matter--his horns had started to grow--they were maybe a third of an inch long. So, after the burning, they had to trim the burned part off with a knife, then cauterize it again. Blood squirted all over and he yelled bloody murder, opening his mouth wide and sticking his little tongue out while making an altogether amazing amount of noise.
The whole process was very difficult (probably more difficult for Gryphon than for me, but he's forgotten about it by now and I'm still obsessing over it, as you can see--). In general I'm against doing things to animals to remove them from what I would consider their 'natural' state, so this was a tough call. But over the last few days I've done lots of 'goat research' and found that they can hurt each other with their horns, or get them stuck in a fence, which with our 100 degree summer months could be a matter of life or death very quickly. Not to mention that they could hurt one of my human kids...
Of course, both babies are out running around on the rocks as I write this. They're fine; it'll take me a little bit more time. Sometimes even doing what you think is right is difficult.