The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Hello, Dolly!

July 25th, 2013 · 3 Comments · Posted in farming

Momma goat, Dolly, and her doe kid

Momma goat, Dolly, and her doe kid

Everybody I’ve talked to about our new farming enterprise has warned us against buying goats.

“Goats get up in the morning thinking of ways to make your life miserable,” said our friend Gini.

Goats are notorious escape artists. One farmer I visited described how a kid goat had vaulted a fence by springing off it’s mother’s back. Another story had a goat launching itself horizontally to escape between the wires of an electrified perimeter fence.

In addition, goats can be high maintenance, with de-worming, hoof trimming and a need for various other pampering. Apparently, goats don’t like to get wet. Tell me how an animal evolved over millions of years in the wild without getting rained on.

Call me crazy, but I still wanted a couple of goats. I like the idea of having a diverse group of animals on the farm. I thought the goats could help me trim back the vines and brambles along the old hedgerows. Plus, there’s a possible sideline in selling goat meat. I like goat myself (the industry prefers to call it chevon). And growing populations of Muslims and Latinos clamor for goat. Did you know that goat is the world’s most popular meat? (You probably were thinking filet mignon.)

I finally settled on the Kiko breed of goat. These originate in New Zealand and are said to require less maintenance. When I e-mailed some inquiries, I got an immediate response for a man just an hour south of here who is trying to sell off his herd of Kikos. In fact, I had several to choose from at bargain basement prices.

The surprise I mentioned in a post earlier this week is the pair of goats you see in the photo above. The mother’s name is Dolly. She has a mighty impressive set of horns. Her doe kid I’ve named Tanner, because she was tanner than any of the other goats.

Goats get their footing in my pickup

Goats get their footing in the back of my pickup

So yesterday at the crack of dawn I took off in my pickup to fetch the goats. Getting them into the enclosure I built around the back of the truck wasn’t so difficult. We lowered the tailgate and Dolly, with a bit of guidance and a final push from behind, walked up a ramp. Tanner was easily carried to the truck and placed inside.

I had some concerns about how I was going to get the goats into our permanent paddock solo when I arrived back on the farm. Would they bolt when I lowered the tailgate? The man from whom I was purchasing them–Nick–had a solution. He gave me a lead rope that fit around Dolly’s neck and clipped to a cleat inside the truck bed. When I had backed the truck up to the paddock gate, I got Dolly to jump off the tailgate and fastened her to the fence inside. Tanner was only too happy to take a place next to her mom.

Goats and cow getting to know one another

Goats and cow getting to know one another

Then there was the question of how the goats would get along with our Jersey heifer Emily, who’s still living inside the same paddock. As you can see in the photo above, it didn’t take the three of them long to make their acquaintance. Emily for some reason was intent on getting close to the goats. The goats, for their part, did not seem nearly as afraid of Emily as our sheep are.

So far, they’ve coexisted nicely. But I can tell that Dolly is not particularly happy with her new digs. To tell the truth, she was awfully spoiled in her former home. She always had fresh hay available and a cozy little barn to retire to in the evening. Nick told me he drove more than an hour to get hay for the goats because they wouldn’t eat the stuff that’s available more locally.

Excuse me, but aren’t we talking animals here? As my wife likes to say, No child offered food ever starved. We have plenty of grass and weeds to eat and they don’t cost anything extra.

Dolly makes no secret of how she feels. Have you ever hear a goat bawl? It sounds like a human child screaming. “NO! NO! NO!”

Note to Dolly: Get over yourself. You’re a goat.

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  • Diane

    Well, I have to say, I KNEW it would be goats. They are adorable. I’m sure they will fit right in and make themselves home on your farm. They can be trouble, but they are also endlessly funny. Just don’t let them graze anywhere near anything you want to keep…they will eat anything! Enjoy!

  • Celia

    Well you’re going to have fun 🙂

    I remember reading Terry Golson’s blog about her goats being fussy about hay – I think the new supply of food ended up a bedding.

  • Ed Bruske

    Celia, if the goats had a pile of hay they didn’t particularly like, do you suppose they’d stand there and stare at it until they starved to death, or would they eventually break down and eat it? I’d like to know if there are documented cases of goats dying of starvation because they didn’t care for the taste of the feed they were given.