I am learning about family interactions from my goats. A little background, I am a daughter, sister, wife, daught-in-law, sister-in-law, mother, aunt, grandmother. So you would think that I understand family. However, I am learning from my goats about family and how they, the goats, handle problems.
Goats are herd animals. They function best when there is more than one of them together. When they graze, rest or sleep they are in a loose group. They are friendly with the other animals they share pasture with but overal pefer their own company. Kid (what their offspring are called) rearing is also a shared activity. The mom (doe) will feed the kid(s) but everyone takes part in the discipline of the kid. Correction, for example, will be given when the adults want to eat hay and the little ones are standing in the hay rack. The kids are gently pushed to move out of the hay and if that doesn’t work a harder push is giving moving the kids onto the ground and out of the way. Once or twice is usually all the correction that is needed. Everyone then goes on about their business and it is not addressed again.
One of our younger does had her first kid. She is not much of a mother. She doesn’t pay attention to her son. She doesn’t keep him close to her or check on him as the other mothers do for their kids. One of the older does who does not have a kid at this time stepped up and has taken over the duties of a mother with the exception of nursing. She checks on the baby to make sure he is doing OK and keeps him with her most of the day. She stays close by while the mother reluctantly nurses the kid. The older doe doesn’t interfer with the mother nor does she try and make the mother be a mother. The herd as a group just let the young mother be and does not push her kid to be with her. However, the herd still corrects her unacceptable actions like they do the other kids.
As the kids have gotten older, they play together but still touch base with their mothers. The daddy (buck) interacts some with the kids. He is gentle with them and plays some with them. As the kids leave for their new homes there is much crying from both kids and mothers for several days. Eventually everyone accepts the new herd dymanics and life goes on. Research says that mothers remembers their kids cry for a year or so. (http://www.livescience.com/21057-goats-remember-kids-voices.html)
So, what have I gathered from this? Well, family ties are strong. Help is given when needed. Discipline is brief and limited to just the basic rules. Togetherness is best. Dealing with problems is fast and then move on. Kids are allowed to be kids and are missed when gone.
All in all goatatude is pretty good for me.