Monday, February 11, 2008

About goats

Even with about a week of rain on and off, and fairly mild to cool days, its still very dry around the farm. Can't say the same at home, the lawn has been growing quickly - funny how I spent the morning cutting feed for the animals, and then the afternoon mowing the lawn.... if only I could put my animals onto it, alas its not possible...

Speaking of dry grass... Most of our animals are quite content with the 'standing hay', the horses and alpacas, although would love nice lush green grass, will quite happily graze on dry grass, the goats are another matter all together! They mope and whine, and just seem downright miserable! So its off to cut willow, hawthorn, comfrey, jerusalem artichokes, and other assorted goodies for them. As well as ample acess to seaweed meal, which they eat like if it was lollies (and yes, goats probably would eat lollies!).

Currently we have 2 goats, Cookie a young Toggenberg, and Archie a not so young goat of unknown decent (he belonged to a 70 year old lady, and if you see how big - and strong - he is its quite an amazing thing!). Both are wethers. We got them to help us with the massive task of getting the blackberries under control. They have done a good job, but not without alot of work on our part, mostly because they need to be tethered to 'do' the blackberries, and that means I have to drive over and make sure they are ok everyday. Anyway, we have had these 2 goats for about a year now, and its been an interesting experience to say the least!

This is what I have learnt over this last year about our caprine friends.
  • Goats are smart, too smart.
  • Goats are charming, charismatic, and very smart!
  • Goats with horns are not such a good idea.
  • Goats love people far more than any other 'farm' animal I have ever had the experience of owning.
  • Because of this, they are great when it comes to doing routine things like toe nail trimming.
  • Goats like all animals, and seem to be able to integrate with other species, in our case alpacas, dogs and horses (unfortunately the horses are not so inclined...)
  • Goats are playful.
  • Goats are determined when food is involved - never go near goats with food you don't intend them to have, as it will be theirs... eventually.
  • Don't pick blackberries with a goat.... note above point...
  • Never leave your lunch bag anywhere that a goat can get to it, they will eventually open zips etc, and will eat whole bananas, tea bags, plastic bags and things you just wouldn't think to worry about.
  • Goats can be very patient, while other animals will panic when entangled, goats will wait for you to come along and untangle them.
  • They eat Ragwort, blackberries, dock, thisle flowers, and many other weeds, so keeping them in your paddock means no more weeding! YAY!
  • Goats will break your heart if you care in the slightest about trees.... Not only do the they eat trees, they also remove the bark (much worse...). They will find the trees that matter most to you and ruin them.
  • Some goats need very creative ways of keeping them in the paddock. Currently Cookie wears a substantial 'branch' around his neck to stop him going between the wires, although, I doubt it will be long before he learns the trick to get through... Damn, if only they were not smart...

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