Goat decisions …

Rain is driving me mad.  I’ve written before that I think she thinks that I’m her baby.  Whenever I come near my door to go out, she starts screaming.  When I put her up and go inside, she screams for about fifteen minutes before stopping.  When she’s out (i.e. during milking time), she’s attached to my hip.

I’d love to be able to push the goats down into the back pasture with the sheep.  It is paradise for goats down there.  Tons and tons and tons of brush for them to eat.  Whenever I push the goats down there (and it all but takes a bucket loader to push them through the gate and then close it, the go berserk.  Rain gets them going.  She starts running the fence line trying to get back to me.  I feel sure that if she wasn’t going nuts, the other goats would settle down and start to eat.  If one goat in a herd is panicked, the others follow suit.  They are herd animals after all.

As I write this, Luna and Penny are out loose.  They are my newest goats and are used to being in a pasture.  Rain and Dawn, Rain especially, were essentially dry lotted before I got them.  Dry lotting means the animal is kept up in a smallish fenced-in area and fed hay and grain (little or no grazing available), so that’s all they know.  Esmeralda had some pasture, but not a lot.  I don’t know about Sunshine.  I think in a few minutes I might take Luna and Penny down to where the sheep are and see if they’ll stay with them, then slowly try to introduce the other goats (except Rain) to free grazing one by one.

It is not healthy for animals to be dry lotted all year long.  They need fresh pasture and vegetation to graze on.  I don’t want to have to worm them every six weeks like so many people do.  The only way I can avoid doing that is through pasture rotation.  Since they dug a well in the pasture adjoining the one I rent, I’m hoping they’ll soon fence it in.  That will fence one whole side of the pasture I rent and a good part of the pasture is naturally fenced by dense vegetation.  It won’t keep predators out and a goat or sheep could get through it if they really wanted to, with sufficient browse and a good livestock guard dog, as long as I’m home, they’d be fine out there loose.

Once Luna and Penny have freshened in February, I might go ahead and sell Rain.  I don’t want dry lotted animals.  Granted, it’s harder to put them out in ElectroNet in the winter months, but as soon as spring comes, I want to be able to put the goats and sheep out in the pastures in ElectroNet.  If I were still working, I would be using ElectroNet now, but since I am able to be home quite a few days out of the week, I am able to let the sheep free graze.  They know where they live and if spooked, they come home.  The last day they were out (Christmas) they came up on their own when it got dark.

I knew this dairy goat business was going to be a learning experience and until I did it, I wouldn’t know what kind of goats I wanted to keep, how I was going to do it, etc.  Now that I have six goats I can decide which ones I am willing to keep (putting up with their individual personalities) and which ones I cannot tolerate.  Because of her short teats, Dawn is hard to milk.  She may very well end up sold down the road as well, but I want to see how her udder is after she’s freshened.

I cut a hole through the side of the back porch that is big enough for a dog to come through.  I can fit through it too.  Now I need to construct a door and mount it.  I’ll put a spring on it so I can push it out, but it will close back up on its own.  This is a project that has been long overdue.  The only exits to this house are on one side which is technically a fire hazard.  Now I have an exit on the other side.  I put crates near the door and put Fern and Cian in them when they came in.  It still isn’t perfected and I need to get a crate back there for Gel, but it is in the works.  I’m tired of red, muddy dog footprints all over the house.