The Very Bad Farmgirl (and does anyone want goats?)

I research everything that I do, I just don’t always fully prepare.  While reading about what happens to meat chickens when you let them live past their designated eight weeks, I learned that they can just drop dead, have heart attacks, and their own legs can break under their immense weight.  “Oh, that sounds terrible,” I said.

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I think Bob broke his leg.  Maybe it’s his toes.  Either way, his giant body is hobbling slow and painfully.  He looks like an old pirate with a peg leg.  He waits for me in the coop so that I will carry him to the water.

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This is a very docile, sweet breed, so it is hard not to get attached.  I know I am not being very humane right now.  I could splint his leg (I once made a neck brace for a very injured chicken and I have healed broken legs in my work as an herbalist in the past.) but I am unsure as to what is actually broken.  Vets aren’t really trained in chicken care and I don’t have hundreds of dollars to see one anyway.  I could load them all up and take them to be slaughtered, which would honestly be the sensitive and sensible thing to do.  But I just can’t.  Nor can I wield an ax and do it myself.

This makes me a very poor farmgirl.  Or maybe a very bad rancher.  Either way, I lack that certain spirit of nonchalance and steel that would make Bob’s pain be swiftly dealt with.

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Does anyone want goats?

I was asked yesterday via text if I knew anyone who wanted the goats.  I am in the city, so I know I can’t.  I actually am not sure if I do know anyone that is at a place to take four (maybe more) goats.  “Why?” I responded.  Because they are going to grow hemp and they don’t want the goats eating it.  Profit.  Farm finance.  The trend.  Goats are out.

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“We will just process them if we can’t sell them.”

Besides the fact that I doubt five year old goat tastes very good, this really zinged me because I hand raised those goats.  Bottle fed them every two hours.  Ran a veritable goat nursery while they had their house built.  Those were my goats.

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This makes me a very bad farmgirl.  A fact that makes my living in the city seem reasonable even though we want to get back on a farm.  We are not good at trimming hooves, or dealing with death, or causing the death.  We are also not good at being 100% vegan, which then makes us hypocritical and yet, I somehow do not have that filter to be a proper farmgirl.  Maybe because I was raised in the city.  Maybe because I was never around the in’s and out’s of a farm growing up.

But I will need to make a decision regarding Bob.

Get Your Goat! (a love story)

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Remember near the beginning of this blog when we were kind of afraid to get goats?  We loved goats after meeting one at a petting zoo while we still lived in the city.  After being butted and bruised and bullied by our friend’s goats while pet sitting we questioned whether we still wanted goats.  Her goats were rescues, males, had horns, and were not neutered.  We looked like good candidates for wresting, apparently.  So, we thought maybe all big goats were like that and wanted as small as ones as we could find.

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We met babies at Nancy’s for the first time and fell in love.  Then we were directed to Jill who had the smallest, most adorable baby goats.  They were Nigerian Dwarves.  We gave in to our long time hopes for goats.

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She gave us two goats that were half Dwarf.  They were a huge hit at the farmer’s market.  An adorable addition to our farm, but they were little escape artists and loved to prance under the storming feet of the horses in the fairgrounds, or nose around our neighbor’s garage for spilt chemicals.  We sadly gave them back to Jill before they could get hurt.

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Then she gave us two more dwarves, each pregnant, the younger one was the sweetest animal you can imagine.  The older one had her baby, who we sold to our friends, and then the mom went to live with a family in Colorado Springs because she liked them better than us.  The younger one died in child birth and broke our hearts.

Do you have anything to eat?

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Jill, in her unending generosity gave me yet another goat.  Elsa Maria, who went to schools with me when I spoke, went to the library, the coffee shop, and Walmart.  Who loved to snuggle and sit on my lap (I think she would still like that, but now it would be like a Rottweiler sitting on me!  But more wiggly.) and brightened our home.  Jill had to move and gave me Elsa’s mother, Isabelle, who patiently let us learn to milk her and was a great companion to Elsa.

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We boarded four goats.  We have visited countless caprines and I must say, we are definitely goat people.

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Now we just have Isabelle and Elsa (who are Saanens, one of the largest breeds), who are each expecting and will increase our little herd by trading one of their doelings for a newborn Nubien that our friend is expecting.  We loved having goat milk shares available, making our own cheese, and having these sweet, gentle creatures as companions.  Goats do make a farm.

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Five Reasons to Get Your Goat

1. Farm Pets- These animals are like having an outdoor puppy all the time.  Any time you can give is most welcome for snuggling, petting, getting them wound up and watching them hop around, and for treats.  You could pull up a lawn chair and watch the comedy show if you liked.  Goats are ever the comedians.  You can add a little happiness to the farm.  Goats are becoming more and more welcome across the country.  Big cities, including Denver and Colorado Springs, welcome small breeds of goats.  Many places with HOA’s don’t.  Don’t move there, folks.  It’s not worth it.

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Farm Products– In the spirit of everyone must pull their weight, goats are excellent at doing so.  There are fiber goats that can give the farmer lovely threads, dairy goats that produce delicious milk (and cheese, yogurt, ice cream…), and, well, here on this little farm we have no meat animals, but let it be said that there are goats bred for meat too.  Male goats can be used for breeding, or wethers can be used for companionship or protection of the herd.  Babies can be used in place of Prozac.

Farm money can be made from selling said fibers, milk, dairy products, or babies.

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3. Easy to Care For– Goats don’t require too much in the way of care.  They like a couple flakes of hay a day, some minerals and baking soda in a dish, and sweet feed during milking.  Fresh water and bedding.  A good fence.  The adage goes though, “If a goat isn’t happy, nothing will keep it in.”  So, keep your girls happy and they should stay put but a good field fence is wise.  They need their toenails trimmed and some good herbal medicines at the ready if needed but outside of that, they require not much more than a few hugs.

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4. Lawn Mowers– Goats do love a good bite to eat (don’t we all?) and they would like to eat whatever you place them on.  They will not eat everything as the rumors would say but they like grasses and weeds.  Oh, and trees.  Don’t let them near the trees you want to keep unless it is large and quite established!  They will mow down an area so that you don’t have to.

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5. Shock and Smile Factor– Have you ever walked down the street with a goat on a leash?  No?!  Oh my, you don’t know what you are missing.  Traffic slows or stops, people point, take second looks, question slowly if it is a dog, and it brings countless smiles to stranger’s faces.

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Goats=Happiness