Goat Farming, Part 3: Tragedy and a Hard Lesson Learned

| 12/26/2013 9:31:00 AM


Click here to read "Goat Farming, Part 1: Selecting a Goat Breed and Preparing for Arrival." Click here for "Goat Farming, Part 2: Bringing Your Goats Home."

I love to read good writing about nature and farming. Two of my favorite authors and farmers are Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry. They both stress the importance of getting to know a place intimately before doing something to it. In The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry says, “one who presumes to know the truth does not look for it.”

This is the approach I’ve tried to use in settling into my own little piece of ground. I’ve always enjoyed sitting in a lawn chair next to the beehives and watching the bees come and go to learn their secrets. I did the same thing after bringing the goats home. I sat in a lawn chair in the pasture and just watched them play and browse and behave like goats.

I learned that they liked to play King on the Mountain and that one of them, at only 4 months old, was already the herd queen. She would butt the others off the “mountain” and try to claim the choice browse for herself. I learned that even though the book said they’d drink about a gallon of water a day each, these goats hadn’t read the book. They took dainty, occasional sips - sticking the tips of their muzzles into the water, removing them, and then licking off whatever remained. Maybe it was because the May pasture was so lush and the vegetation full of water? Perhaps this breed of goats (myotonic goats) were more efficient in their water use?

Goat-Fencing Tragedy

Something I failed to observe and had not yet learned that first spring was the way a goat is very determined about pushing it’s way through any kind of small hole it can find to get to something it wants - even if it means getting hung up. My perimeter pasture fence was a good one - 4-by-4-inch welded wire. But then I did something!

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