For the Love of Goats

Working in the presence of goats is infuriating.

– Todd Clark

So back in June we did a thing. We packed up two goats into the back of Christine’s SUV and brought them to the homestead. It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. We tossed the idea of goats around for a while and had actually committed to taking these two kids at the end of May. But after a weekend of inspiration at the first annual Homestead Festival in Columbia, Tennessee, we were excited to grow our little farm.

John and Lenny’s first day on the farm. June 14, 2022.

Goats weren’t the first livestock we added here at the homestead. We were wooed by chickens and had started our first flock earlier in the year. In doing so we quickly learned that chicken math actually is a thing. A couple of hens seemed like a good idea, but you cannot purchase just a couple of hens. The minimum in Ohio is six. So we ended up with 17. Three of which are not hens, but that’s all for another post.

Goats seemed like the next right thing for us to do. So into the back of the SUV they went to their perfect little forever paddock.

Goat pasture at Headwaters Homestead.

From early on when we first acquired our land we had visualized where different operations would go. That planning came in handy as I scrambled to get a proper paddock in place once we committed to the goats. Fortunately it only required us to close off a section of pasture I had fenced in the year before and install a simple gate. A hundred feet of fencing, some post installations, and a calf hutch took less than a week to pull together. But in that week our first pasture was born.

John and Lenny, our Alpine/Boer kids, took some time to warm up to their new surroundings. But it wasn’t long before they won all of our hearts. We picked goats because they are both loving and intelligent animals, suitable as livestock or as pets. While they live the life of pets now, these wethers will live in with a larger herd of dairy goats when we’re ready to branch out into that endeavor. Goats are herd animals by nature, and these two will be the shepherds of our larger flock.

While loving and gentle, goats are also very curious creatures. They’ll explore everything that comes into their world. Whether you want them to or not!

I experienced this first hand recently as I began work on their overwintering shelter. I’m using a simple design, largely inspired from barracks designs I encountered while in Colombia. The finished structure should keep them warm in the winter months, but also be suitable for shaded relief in the summer months. A raised platform, with plenty of bedding material, will keep them off of the cold ground throughout the winter. Ventilation will allow for the exchange of warm and cold air without drafts.

Through all of this construction though, the goats want to help. There’s not a board or tool I can bring in that doesn’t eventually get scrutinized by the goats. Approval seems to be relayed by them either standing on or knocking over everything I bring into their pasture. I find myself constantly stopping to address their insatiable curiosity.

“Get off of that John!”

“Lenny, you cannot eat the screws!”

“John! Don’t headbutt that post!”

“Guys! Really?! Can you please get off the decking long enough for me to tack it down?”

The neighbors must think I’m somewhat insane to hear me carry on at the goats so. I love them dearly, but they can make almost any project take ten times as long to complete. I’m sure without their help I’d have had the shelter up in a weekend, much like their pasture fence and gate.

Working in the presence of goats is infuriating.

But to have them run up to greet you in the morning for breakfast, to hear them bleet joyfully when they see you in the adjoining field, and to watch them run about at play in the pasture is sheer magic.

We’re new to goats, but we’re smitten. They’re a part of the family now. A growing family, here on the homestead.

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