These animals certainly add to the workload around here, but they are part of our larger goals of sustainability, integrated farming, and self-sufficiency. They are a joy to have around, and represent another aspect of our future as a diversified small farm.
Our population has risen once again, with the arrival of five goats. We have not kept goats before, but have a strong interest in doing so for a variety of reasons. We want to minimize our use of off-farm inputs, such as bringing in fertilizer from elsewhere, and keeping livestock and poultry helps achieve that. Second, we feel that sustainability means integrating many different types of farming; the land will be healthier overall if we manage it for multiple uses. Third, we have limited prime vegetable ground, and if we intend to make a living on this land, we need to diversify our income. Our goal is to build up a herd of goats that will make use of, and improve, our many acres of brushy pasture that are prime for goats but marginal for produce, while providing us with meat to sell and milk for our own use.
These five goats represent our beginning, a way to learn the handling of goats at a manageable level, from which we can expand if we desire. In the meantime, they will provide us with milk and help clear and improve our acreage for future uses. These animals all came from a local goat dairy with whom we’re familiar, and who have been very gracious and helpful in getting us started. Perry (second from top) is an older milker whose commercial value is dropping off, and is ready for a good semi-retirement home. She’s a bit ornery and calculating, our current escape artist. Garlic and Gloria (bottom) are 2-year old does who simply represent an over-stock of does at their parent farm, and needed a good home. Garlic is an easy, productive milker and a joy to have around, while Gloria is currently dry but a good companion for the others. The two kids (third from top) are being raised for meat, to be butchered sometime in the fall, and we will hold the three does over the winter.
Their current home is a shed and hoophouse in a smaller paddock on our bottomland (top). The shed is sided with our own milled cedar , while the hoophouse is built from old cattle panels and plastic sheeting. The shed provides a solid, warm, dry structure for inclement weather, while the hoophouse holds their hay, mineral, water, and milking stand. They will be spending many of their days out on pasture around the farm, eating brush and clearing land for further use. We use a system of portable electric netting to confine them to a specific area, moving it regularly to balance their foraging with the health of the pasture.