Our home which we purchased almost two years ago at the start of September (can it really have been two years already) has a 2.5 acre pasture attached. During the summer this pasture can get pretty overgrown with grass and burdock and thistle and buckthorn and such. I briefly toyed with the idea of putting a couple cows out there (I'm told by my cattle-raising family that you can't get just one cow . . . she would be very unhappy by herself), but cattle are not exactly cheap to buy, and would have to be fed over the winter. My next option was to get some goats. They are much smaller, and would not require quite as much feed over the winter. For a little while we trialed this option by borrowing our friend Laurie's buck (male goat), as well as her two mini-horses, which continue to visit. The three started in on the grassy field and have done a pretty good job chomping it down, at least the small area we portioned off with electric wire. The horses respect the hot wire, but the goat walked right through it, so he had to be chained up and moved daily. He only visited for a week and was sent home when my own goats arrived. After all, my three new goats are does (females) and I don't want the buck getting them pregnant just yet.
Last year we had a couple of volunteer horses that came to visit and munched down our pasture. Long story short, a lady who came to my door needed a place to put her horses for a little while, so for the summer they visited. In the fall, as they had chomped down most of the green (and left a lot of horse poo in the field), and the rest was rather dry, they moved to her mother's home, which has a barn. When I was visiting her this summer, and told her about my wish for goats, she took me down the street to meet one of her neighbors, who has a lot of goats, and was willing to sell some to me. He only had one doeling born this year (young female goat) so I selected her and her mother. I then just picked one of the other goats from among the many he had. They were delivered to my place in early August. Looking at the picture above, the black and white goat made me think of the Oreo cookie, so that is now her name. Keeping with a cookie theme, I named the white goat with pantaloons Macaroon, or Mamma Macaroon when I'm feeling playful, as she is the mother to the doeling, who I named Biscotti.
Rich and I have agreed from the day we bought this place that we would need to re-do the fencing on the pasture. It has just been a few strands of barbwire, which works fine to keep in cattle and horses that are not motivated to get outside the field. The fence was nowhere near adequate to keep goats in. Thus, the first major project of this summer was to get the field re-fenced. However, the goats were being delivered before the fencing was ready, so I bought a temporary electric fence, which you can see above. It was actually moved several times, with the picture above being the third move. It sections off a portion of yard or pasture (with a little mowing to keep it from grounding much) 160 feet long, which is plenty big to hold a couple goats for a few days.
Mamma Macaroon and her kid are coming to the fence anticipating my giving them a sweet horse mix treat with a bit of corn and molasses. This is a favorite treat which I should be able to use to train them a little to come to me in the evening if I need to relocate them, or do something with them.
Rich and his brother Brian (Thank You soooo much Brian for coming and helping) began the process of the fencing project. First they installed a solar electric fence wire around a small portion of the pasture to keep the horses confined. Then over the next two weeks they installed sturdy corner supports consisting of old railroad ties and steel poles and wire at each of 5 pasture corners (the sixth corner was just fine, and between two corners is an outbuilding where the animals can get out of the weather if they choose). The last step was to stretch the four foot high mesh fencing and secure to more frequently placed poles. They finished up yesterday, August 13. It looks really, really nice, and should confine the goats quite nicely. It only enclosed half the pasture for now. Next year we can enclose the other. Fencing is rather expensive, so needed to be budgeted out over two years.
The final step was taking down the electric mesh fence that held in the goats. They are now mingling with the horses. You may not see it below unless you look, but my little flock of 5 chickens moves all around our place, and were in the scene below. It is a pastoral scene! The chickens are on bug control, and eventually will be giving us some eggs. The goats are on weed patrol, and eventually will entertain the buck again so they may have new kids next year. I won't mind letting my little herd of goats grow a bit. Females will be allowed to stay and grow up and eat the brushy pasture. Males will eventually find their way to our dinner table. I've never tried goat . . . I intend to do so. Who knows, maybe I'll even try my hand at a little goat milking. The breed we have are mixed fainting goats, but all goats give milk. The trick is training one to let you gather it. I'll probably try with a young doe, on her first kid. Maybe for Biscotti when she grows up and has her first kid.
As a side note - Rich's sister Debbie also came to visit and she has been helping me (Thank You Debbie) to paint treated wood planks which are needed for the next project . . . . re-doing our porch. I'm in a bit of a hurry to get that project going, as the planks that are going to be replaced will go to build up a resting platform for my hot-tub which I purchased over the last couple months. It is sitting in the pole barn waiting to be positioned. I want that in place before winter comes . . . . this winter we will be enjoying the cold in style! After a hard day hawking in the cold and snow, we'll come home and soak in wonderful hot water.
As an additional addendum, here is a picture of the buck. I think he'll be a fine match to my does when the time comes . . . except he has horns, and my does do not (horns can be a feature of both male and female goats who carry the gene for them). If any kids come out with horns I'll have to decide then what to do. Goats can be very pushy, especially this guy above, so horns are not something you want to have in addition to their butting you.