Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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The Importance of Goat Watching

7/14/2014 6:14:00 PM

Tags: goats, inspiration, dairy goats, Maine, Carissa Larsen

A floppy Jubilee

In the evenings, after I’ve come home from my 9-5 and the barn chores are complete, my very favorite thing to do is to sit with my goats. This brings me a lot of peace and makes everything feel “worth it”, no matter how horrible the rest of my day has been. Each goat gets a little bit of individual attention, and my pats and scratches also search for lumps, bumps, scratches, ticks, and any other hidden surprises. I feel their coats and try to be aware if anyone is feeling particularly coarse or has flaky skin. Occasionally I manage to snag a hoof and check to see if a trim is needed.

Most importantly, I watch. Each goat has her own personality, her individual quirks. I love watching them interact, seeing their evolving relationships with each other as a herd. Sadie and Flinder, our two girls in milk, are currently trying to hash out who’s herd queen. Our “teenage” girls live to chase the younger “babies” of the group. The “Babies” spend a lot of time perched on the igloos, staying out of reach and trying to avoid harassment.

I’ve always considered this time spent sitting with goats a little indulgent on my part, and even a little on the lazy side since I enjoy it so much and I get to sit down and essentially do nothing. Recently however, I learned just how valuable this observation time is, and how essential it is to goat health and management.

While I was at work the other my husband messaged me and let me know our doeling Jubilee hadn’t finished all of her morning grain and had scoured. Since they were now browsing all of the new Spring offerings in their outside area, I chalked it up to an upset tummy and we gave her some probiotics. As the day progressed my husband let me know Jubilee was eating hay, browsing and drinking well, so I didn’t worry. When I got home and the goats were given their evening grain, Jubilee ate her share and I was reassured she was fine.

Healthy Jubilee

I settled on the floor for my evening goat time, and watched and petted and lounged. Jubilee was in her usual position on the igloo and I decided to take a few photos of her. While I was lining up for a good shot, I noticed her ears were droopy.

As I looked harder, I noticed her expression was a little vacant, her eyes lacking their usual spark. I told my husband I thought there was something “off”, and he reassured me Jubilee was fine. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. I got up and went for the thermometer for a quick check. As my husband held her, we watched together as the reading climbed to 106. Nearly suffocating with panic, I insisted we do it again, thinking it must be a mistake. The numbers climbed. My husband warned me not to panic, but it too late.

Long story short, it was 9PM, no vet available, stores closed, no Banamine on hand. Luckily, I have some really supportive, amazing goat friends who took my frantic calls and helped me get the medication I needed. Jubilee made a full recovery and has been her happy, healthy little self ever since. I also now have Banamine in my goat cabinet.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t known my little goat so well, we would have went to bed that night, and in the morning, found that Jubilee had died. I now consider my goat watching time an essential part of my goat care routine. And I don’t feel a bit guilty about enjoying it.                           

You can keep up with Carrissa and Feather and Scale farm on their FB page on her much neglected blog or check out the Feather and Scale Farm website at

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1/8/2016 4:16:03 AM
Super advice! I absolutely agree. You need to know your goats well and observe them closely to check if there are any potential issues. Herd animals often hide their feelings if they are vulnerable, so they don't attract the attention of preditors, so signs of illness can be very subtle indeed. Excellent post!

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