We got goats on Tuesday. They are Oberhasli yearlings from Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet. I know very little about goats. I did a bit of research going into it and learned that I wanted to make sure I bought goats from a CAE and CL disease free farm. These are two nasty goat diseases that anyone thinking about going into having goats should learn about. So thanks to craigslist and the nice people at Consider Bardwell farm we now have our two does Esther and Isla. The names come from two very special girls I know and who I don’t get to see very often but I hope the four will meet someday.
I built a goat house off our chicken coop in the orchard behind the house. This orchard already had goat and coyote proof fencing all around it so it made the containment and protection much easier to figure out. Once our electric poultry netting comes I will begin training them to the electric fence and once they seem savvy enough on it we will put them out in the fields we hope to plant this spring with fruit trees. These does were too small to be bred in February when they were in heat which is why the farm was selling them, we will breed them in August and then next spring begin milking them. This seems like a long time to wait before getting a return on our investment, but their help with clearing, their entertainment, and the delight that they bring is sufficient enough for me.
They have an indomitable amount of curiosity and are very friendly. They aren’t ferociously hungry, I have been trying to find their sweet tooth, so I know what I can tempt them with, but they seem fairly indifferent to my attempts. Isla wants very little to do with what is in my hand and usually tries to eat my hair or the buttons on my jacket and sometimes she’ll try to climb on my back. Esther is a little more subdued, and will usually try whatever I have to offer and if she doesn’t like it wonder off or climb on the roof of the goat house I built.
They get along well with our chickens and our dog. I cooked some potato skins and barley on the woodstove and brought it down to tempt my chickens out of their house, it worked very well and they spent the day scratching the yard where the snow had melted, sunning themselves in the goat’s hay and telling the goats off for trying to eat their tail feathers. Louis (our dog) has behaved very well even when the goats head but him and chew on his ears, I am very impressed with his newfound amount of patience. I think he is a bit jealous of these new creatures and all the attention they’ve been getting, he’s trying to impress me with good behavior. I wasn’t expecting to like playing with them as much as I do, I feel sort of like a nine year old with my first pony, all I want to do is hang out in the goat pen all day. I don’t notice my toes getting cold, I don’t see the sun getting low, I forgot to eat breakfast the other day because Josh left early and I just stayed in the goat pen after I did chores. It’s really ridiculous but turns out, I really like goats, I had no idea how much fun they were. I am also mildly paranoid about them getting eaten as I listen to the pack of coyotes yipping across the brook every night. I just hope they have enough deer and rabbits to eat to keep them from getting too curious about what’s on the other bank.
We are feeding them hay and they are browsing on blackberries brambles, sumac stalks, woody weeds, and of course everything else they can get their mouths around. They love the cedar bark from the fence posts but that is pretty much all gone now. They did like the pumpkin skins that I brought them, but they might have just been humoring me. They show very little interest in the chicken feed which is because they managed to fit themselves through the chicken door to the hen house and make themselves at home in there. The chickens don’t seem to mind as long as they keep out of the egg boxes when their in there and don’t get in their way when they are eating. My chickens have some pretty big egos; you should see the way they push my goats around. I don’t think it is a very good survival skill for them.
Besides goats we’ve got our peppers onions and tomatoes all started, our solar and wind system isn’t quite powerful enough to support the grow lights so we’ve had to run the generator a bit to keep the batteries above crashing. Soon the onions will be going outside into a cold frame, but we have many many more seeds to start so I think we will be running our generator more than normal in the coming weeks. Josh’s icehouse is coming along, he is putting up a post about it soon I think. We had spring here last week, but winter has a pretty solid grip on the weather this week, it’s been snowing and freezing at night which is great for our icehouse. I just hope winter doesn’t just let go all at once because it would be nice to get more of a sugaring season. We’ve boiled for the last couple weeks but the cold has slowed the trees down, if it warms up slow again and keeps getting cold at night we’ll have a pretty good run, but if spring jumps in all at once and it gets too warm too fast we’ll lose the sap running season. We don’t use a vacuum or RO’s in our sugaring operation, we also use an old wood fired arch to boil the sap, so we rely heavily on the weather and mother nature to make for a good sugaring year. I’ll write more about this later and put up some pictures.
Happy spring to those who have it!
There are more photos of our goats and our chickens on our flicker page