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Another Day in Paradise: Life Outside of the Big City

11/20/2013 8:40:00 AM

Tags: raising goats, goat herder, Annie Warmke, Ohio

roosterYesterday it rained, then snowed, then hailed tiny snow balls, then the sun came out to finish the day. In Ohio we aim to please everybody with our weather.

People have been writing to ask what my typical day looks like and that’s a hard thing to describe. Every day I am amazed at how interesting I find the work here, even after a decade of walking up the lane at last a dozen times a day. During one day this week there was re-homing of adorable little bantam chickens, finding a new buck at the livestock auction, and pulling up what’s left of the produce in the garden. And did I mention that I ate homemade ice cream for supper?

A woman in northern Ohio contacted me earlier this week about some bantam chickens (some called “mille fluer”) she needed to send away because she has some injuries that are preventing her from taking care of them. So off I went to get a good luck at a breed I hadn’t seen up close before. What little darlings they turned out to be so I brought home 13 of them - seven males and six females. Now I’m working on finding them new homes in the backyards of Central Ohio city dwellers. That’s really where they belong - even though they are feisty little souls.

The new buck has arrived. He is very young and quite cute. I’m going to enjoy his gentle kid nature for the moment because as he ages he’ll become more dominating and insistent to have his way. I don’t have to have the does bred until January so I’m not too worried that he’ll be a grown up enough by then to be the buck for the herd. goat

A breeding buck like this new one needs to weigh at least 40 to 50 lbs. before he’s ready to be good at his job, and able to go the distance. Bucks have to work hard - they can loose weight during mating season, plus become sick from over work. I know some folks laugh when I talk about this, but think about it. The only job this animal has is to breed does, so he needs to be extra healthy and able to stand up to the “pressure” that happens when he is asking his body to work that hard.

He needs to be well fed and nourished (not always the same thing) well ahead of the date with the does. Our new buck is getting a 12% feed (about 1/3 lb.), and a small handful of ABC pellets, plus some of Hoegger’s herbal tonic twice a day until he’s adjusted to that amount, then I’ll increase eventually to one pound of feed twice a day. He likes the taste of all of the feed but isn’t eager, which makes me think he might have just been jerked away from his mama before he appeared at the livestock sale.

I am a little nervous about this purchase since I don’t generally think that the livestock auction is a place to buy the type of “healthy” animal I want to raise. But this year it has been almost impossible to find a buck that is under $150 and naturally raised. The lack of those animals ought to be sending a message to folks who raise meat goats - there’s a market out there for goats and it’s paying well at the moment.

As I walked down the lane in the evening, carrying the eggs from the chicken chalet, I could see the bright pink and purple sky at the edge of the horizon. Folks have told me that a sky like that is just pollution, but I chose to savor the beauty of the evening, the tiredness of a hard day’s work, and the knowledge that tomorrow will hold more interesting things to do. I dreamed of this life once, and I’m not disappointed.

Read more about the Ohio goat herder here.

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