Playing checkers with livestock

I often feel like I’m playing Checkers with our livestock.  Maybe it’s more like Chess, but I don’t know how to play Chess so I can’t be sure.  I’ve written about the shuffling I do with the animals on a daily basis.  I can’t put the goats or the cows down with the horses which is a constant source of irritation.  That’s going to change soon.  Hopefully we’ll get another line of field fence run this weekend which will leave just one more to do and then it’s done.  Then I’ll be able to cross fence the pasture and stick the goats and calf in the back part of the pasture, leaving the horses in the front part.  I was locking the horses in their paddock and putting the goats and calf (and formerly Gwen as well) into the ten acre pasture, but with the arrival of Heavenly, that plan was ruined because she tore up her udder in the woods.  If I put the goats in calf in the back part of the pasture, Heavenly’s udder should be safe.  It wasn’t just Heavenly who injured her udder, several of the others have received cuts and gouges from the brush down there.

Frequently, I’ll bring the goats out to the side pasture and let them out there, but it isn’t five minutes before they’ve circled around and end up back in their pasture.  If I shut the gate so they can’t get back in, they either hang out at the gate to their pasture or at the gate at the driveway begging to come back in.  Yesterday, my landlady came down to the pond and had to fight through thirteen goats to get in, but couldn’t get back out and had to call me to help her.  Obviously, that is not something I want to happen again.

You’d think if the goats were hungry enough, they’d stay out to eat, but apparently I’m feeding them too much and they are not hungry.  That stopped yesterday.  They got less than a half a bale of grass hay to eat during the night.  Spot continues to receive an ample supply of hay because he’s locked in the poultry pasture away from Gwen.

Formerly, Gwen was spending a good deal of time out in the front pasture grazing, especially overnight, but when the grass got belly-high, she started to graze on the mowed grass along the driveway.  Several times, she ended up near the road which put a stop to allowing her out into the pasture without supervision.  Yesterday, I set up a corral of ElectroNet in the back yard for her to graze in.  I need a new battery to run the charge to electrify the netting, but I was hoping the net would be enough of a barricade.  I moved her down into the corral this morning and when I got back from my interview, I found her up at the gate to the goat pasture waiting to get in.  I haven’t gone down to inspect whatever damage she may have done to the net getting out.  I shouldn’t have put her in it without it being properly charged.

Some time ago, we bought some used electric fencing supplies consisting of two charges, one solar, and a whole bunch of electric rope.  Last night I talked to Wally about leaving the back portion of the yard unmowed so that I could set up little paddocks for Gwen (and soon her calf) to graze and he’s agreed.  It’s very wasteful to be mowing grass when we could use it for grazing.  I was going to buy some plastic, step-in posts, but after reading the extensive fencing articles posted on the Throwback at Trapper Creek’s Blog, I realized that using rebar posts would be a better choice.  I did use plastic, step-in posts with the ElectroNet, but many of those are bent and broke.  They simply don’t hold up for any length of time and if the ground is hard, forget getting the damned step-in posts in the ground.  Same problem with the ElectroNet.  I’d like to use a couple of strands of electric wire or rope to cross fence the back pasture, but that won’t hold the goats in.  We’ll need to continue to use the ElectroNet which may ultimately end up being more trouble than it’s worth, but I really want those lazy-ass dairy goats out of their lot and into a pasture where they can graze and browse.  I’m renting that back ten acres and I’ve put a good deal of money and we’ve put a lot of time into fencing it.  I want to use it for more than just pasture for horses.

The ElectroNet worked really well with the sheep, but it was a royal pain in the ass to move.  It got to the point that Wally and I both dreaded doing it.  Because Wally needed the money to meet some court-mandated obligations, we had to sell the sheep several months ago.  While I miss the sheep, with as hot and dry as it has been, I am really glad we are not trying to keep that ElectroNet moved on a weekly basis, maintain shade shelter and cart water down to the sheep.  Eventually we may get more sheep, but quite frankly, the goats and cattle are providing all that we needed the sheep for.  The Jersey meat is every bit as good as the lamb was.  Since I am no longer trialing or even technically training the Border Collies, I don’t need the sheep for that.  We have five goat kids to use for whatever training I want to do with Mica.  I used goats to train Gel and that worked out well.

I want to continue to keep Gwen and her calf up near the house.  I’d love to be able to bring her down into the pasture with the goats, but it’s really too far for her to have to travel twice a day.  Although Rose now considers Gwen to be part of her “herd”; I don’t know that Gwen would be able to defend her calf from predators.  I will never be able to put Spot back in with Gwen as he’ll start nursing.  Not sure how we’ll be able to tell whether she’s in heat or not when it comes time to breed her again … I was planning on Spot letting us know about that.

I hate that we are already feeding a good deal of hay, especially with all of the available grass and browse that’s around here.  Proper fences are so important; as is a dog that is able to reliably move the livestock around as needed.  I guess Gel has become a master Checker player.

As I’ve been writing this, it started to rain and thunder.  Yea!!!!!  I won’t have to water the carrots tonight.

Until later …