Chomping away on our walk home from the pasture
With the arrival of the ducklings, the goats have not been getting their usual amount of love on the internet. Never fear, the goats are still the livestock apple-of-my-eye and doing great. Lal is getting bigger and bigger with each passing day and now has a wicked set of horns. One of these days she is definitely going to accidentally maul us… so wait for the black eye pictures coming your way soon no doubt! Additionally, Lal is going to be a little escape-goat (Ha!). Beverly has to be sweet talked to leave the pen and go to the pasture, but Lal is more then excited to explore the world. We really worked hard at socializing Lal when she young and took her almost everywhere so she would willing go to new pastures/ places. This may backfire on us. Currently if she does get out, she doesn’t go very far, but poor mama goat she makes such a fuss when their is fence between the two.
Lal: escape goat
With the nice weather we constructed a makeshift pasture for them between the rows on the farm. Unfortunately the current technique of a lead connected to a washing line means we cannot leave them out there all day. Fortunately, it means that I have an excuse to sit on a hillside, read a book, and drink a beer. The goats have almost completely cleared their densely wooded pen so next week will be installing another large pen to clear/ thin the woods by our neighbor’s deck. Hopefully soon our neighbors will have a clear view down to the creek thanks to our brush-clearing goats. I am curious to see how the goats and the ducklings will get along. The goats have a tendency to head-butt the chickens if they get too close to their food, hopefully the ducks will learn early on that is not going to fly.
I think that we have given the goats a pretty darn good home: nice dry shelter, plenty of water, access to brush, daily (but limited) access to pasture, climbing structures, grain, and table scraps. My only concern is that the herd is too small. Goats are herd animals and become depressed and distressed when not in a proper herd. Luckily there are two of them, but I will be glad at next kidding season when there are more goats to keep each other happy.
When people learn that I have a goat, I get typically several stock answers- the slight raising of the eyebrow in surprise or excited squeal asking for pictures or the incredulous, “why” or “I have always wanted a goat, could I get one?” Now, I am pro anyone and everyone getting goats if they have the space/ time available. I have been really lucky that I live on a vegetable farm with spare forest/ mini pasture space and a great partner who can look after the girls when I am at work. Even with those very special elements, I am amazed how easy it is to care for very few goats. Like most animals there are moments when they consume every moment and others when its pretty mellow and low maintenance.
The weekend is when we do most of the maintenance for the goats like muck- out the stall and add a new straw bed. I know that a lot people muck out very little during the winter and just add extra layers of straw- we tried that and it just didnt work for us, perhaps if we had a harsher winter or a larger space thus requiring a greater investment of straw it would make more sense. With two of us working it typically takes about thirty minutes, which includes playing-with-baby-goat time. Honestly if we didn’t keep the chickens in with goats, we could probably get by with every few weeks- they are the real poopers. Weekends are also when we trim hooves or other every-once-in-awhile chores.
Everyday we give a scoop of grain and new water in the morning and in the evening. We give Beverly her grain during morning milking, which typically takes about 10 minutes. Now that Lal has started to eat grain as well, we give Lal’s separately to ensure that she gets enough. Every morning and every night we open or close respectively, the “goat door” to their pen. We used about 200 feet of fencing around their enclosure that is mostly woods. Plus we have built several little climbing playgrounds and they have a covered porch so they hang outside even when it is snowy/ rainy/ really hot.
Honestly that is it. Feeding, opening doors, and milking (for now) are the daily routine. Once the farm gets moving and shaking again, we will be taking them out of the pen during the day to clear poison ivy from around the veggie fields. Right now we go on mini goat walks if the weather is nice, but Beverly is no longer interested in such outings, but Lal can’t get enough!
We go through less then a bale of hay week (at $3.00ea) and a bag of feed every month (at approx $30.00). Thus it costs about $8.25 per week to keep a goat. Now that doesn’t account for medical needs, but even still not bad, not bad at all.
See the goat door and little porch? A lifesaver during the big snows/ polar vortexes this year!