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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Fighting formation, llama style 
8th-Feb-2017 09:15 am
I forgot to mention - Hercules and Jessie's team were in fighting formation when I walked out there yesterday. Anna, Fiona, and Lily were in that pasture at the time, so the flying wedge had a full cadre of adults in it. Usually a goat fighting wedge will have the most dominant goat at the front point with the ranks fanning out behind her and the youngsters directly inside the wedge. So it would look like 3,2,1,2,3. However, with the llama version of the fighting formation, the center is so strong that the points take the next strongest animals, so the ranking actually looks like 1,2,3,llama,3,2,1.

At the point/center was, of course, Hercules. He was not standing straight on, but was turned mostly sideways and looking as big as he could get. Directly behind him and nearly under him were the yearlings Tia, Mouse, and Tuma. Soma, too tiny but too big, was hovering somewhere off of his right rear behind the line. To Herc's left, fanning from center to edge, were Elsa (kinda behind his shoulder and possibly ranked as a defensible yearling for this), Emma, and Lily. To his right were Jessie (kinda behind his rear), Fiona, and Anna. Or, if you looked across the front line, it was 2,4,5,llama butt, llama head,6,3,1. Yes, little Lily is the ranking goat in this pasture.*

As I've said before, the fighting formation is the easiest way for me to see the current political/pecking order for the goats and their current alliances. So what I've confirmed is that Lily outranks Emma and Anna still outranks Fiona. Anna still outweighs Fiona, so I'm not really surprised that Fiona can't move up yet. I've also confirmed that Lily is teaming up with her cousins while Fiona is kinda joined up with the Jessie mafia.

*When Lily, Anna, and Fiona are in the other pasture on Dahlia's team, they are the bottom ranks. (Anna teams up with her brother Lerris and moves up above Lily.) Hence the swapping back and forth from one to the other pasture depending on how much those three are getting beat up. I don't like them being beaten by Dahlia and Pan, but I also don't like them doing the beating on Elsa in particular.
9th-Feb-2017 01:58 am (UTC)
I love watching and learning about animal cultures and instinctual behaviors. I had horses, dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, spiders,... we'd watch fish at the lakes,...
and we didn't just have "horses"... we had MANY horses. Usually between 40-50 equine at any given time.
I spent a lot of time learning how the different each animal... IS, but also the habits and how different groups interact... so hearing your observations as you know all these personalities... and you know their USUAL ways of doing things, vs what is going on... I love it. LOVE it.

One of the most intimidating animals I've ever been 'natural' with (ie: no control devices like halters or ropes... totally open area) was a llama alpha named "Tony" who was the guardian of a herd of alpacas. He was like.. the VIP bouncer who covers the door to the stripper's changing room.... who stops everyone, and lets you know that they could *kill* you with a hoof and decides whether he will attack or let you pass, and he was VERY picky. Anyone who had a llama on their side... would be silly not to utilize them! Strategists!
9th-Feb-2017 02:52 pm (UTC)
I'm smiling at your description of the llama bouncer. I stoically deign to allow you to pass by me.

And yes, Hercules is in with the dent-n-scratch-n-baby herd for two practical reasons. 1) He's the biggest baddest guy in the fields and 2) none of the goats on Jessie's team are tall enough to steal his food. So he gets a big bucket of food all to himself for the price of supervising the little ones.

As I'm sure you know, there are two versions of the fighting formation. There is the flying wedge/phalanx with the babies in the middle of the V, and there is the skirmish line where all of the fighters line up almost straight. The flying wedge is easier to see and dissect for political implications. However, the formation I described in this post was really a skirmish line rather than a V. That's why the ends were anchored by the biggest/strongest goats with the llama in the middle. Basically it was a line of strong-weak-strong-weak-strong with all of the non-combatants in a second line behind the strongest center point, also in a strong-weak-strong configuration.
20th-Feb-2017 05:55 am (UTC)
I know nothing about goat/llama fighting formations, but LOVE hearing about it!

I only spent a couple days with a llama-guarded alpaca-pack and their pet yak. (TRUE)
I grew up with horses, though... dozens of them. I saw the friendships, the rivalries, the cliques, the power struggles, the drama of the herd.
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