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Saturday, October 2, 2010


I know I said "tomorrow" three days ago, but today is a tomorrow, if not the tomorrow I had originally indicated.  So, I didn't lie.  Better late than never, right?  Well, we'll see.

I just finished a marathon read of Jennifer Crusie's new book Maybe This Time.  It was wonderful, as expected, and had some very, very funny conversations between the characters.  In one such, the hippy-dippy mother tries to warn her daughter off a man by talking astrology.  Specifically, she calls him, a Capricorn, a "Sea Goat."  When I finished the giggling fit over that, it reminded me of goats, and my lagging blog.  So, here we are.

When we were deciding if moving to this small town was the right decision for us, my husband played dirty and brought up goats.  See, the man pays attention.  He knew that if he started talking livestock, I would jump on board.  And I did.  In fact, we made sure that any house we bought would not have any livestock zoning restrictions. Our master plan was to first get the garden going (update on that to follow), then get chickens (still in the plan), then goats.

But why goats?  Well, there are lots of arguments in favor:

  • Milk!  Comparable to cow's milk; less likely to bother the lactose intolerant; excellent for cheeses; very reliable
  • Meat!  Again, same idea as with cows, and very good for more ethnic cooking.
  • Entertainment!  Thought by some to be smarter than dogs, goats are a challenge and fun to watch.
  • Easy to find!  Our area has lots of goat farms; dairy goats, predominantly.  So starting a small herd would be easy.  They also cost less, per animal, than cows.
  • Space! They don't need as much acreage per goat as cows.
  • Eating! Goats will eat poison ivy!  My husband is very allergic, so this is a major plus.

But I am starting to do actual research, and am coming up against some cons.

  • Fencing - Since they are smart, easily bored, and excellent climbers, you need excellent fencing for goats.  Some farms even double-fence, with a perimeter fence, and then inner paddocks.
  • Care
    • Goats generally have horns, but you rarely see goats with horns on farms.  Why?  Because the farmers de-bud them.  Essentially they burn them off on young kids, and cauterize the stump.  Sounds cruel, but the book lists this as the least cruel alternative.
    • Goats area also related to deer, and have similar hooves.  Which, apparently, means that you have to trim their hooves regularly.
  • Eating habits - the folklore says that goats will eat anything.  While they will generally try anything, they are very picky eaters.  Unfortunately, that goes for pasture, too.  From what I read in the book Raising Dairy Goats, much like the deer to which they are related, goats are not grazers.  They look up for their food.  Which means trees and ivy are their preferences.   Which also meas lots of supplemental feed.
I am glad to be able to do the research, because I don't want to rush into animal care without being well informed, but it does get me a bit down.  While goats would physically fit on our land, they would be a lot more work than expected.

So, folks, the three livestock options I am considering are cows, sheep, and goats.  I really should have my husband guest in here to do a point-counterpoint, but I'm not.  Maybe I can do side-by-side comparison someday soon.  Not tomorrow.

Garden Update
After two days of solid rain (thanks TS Nicole), I was convinced that our little elephants would have washed away.  I wasn't completely wrong, but there is still hope.  I have seen a few cabbage!  I am so stoked at the idea of cabbage.  So far, it doesn't look like enough to do a batch of sauerkraut, but I am just going to keep hoping.

The turnips are still going gangbusters.  We had better develop a liking for turnips soon!

Still no sign of the carrots or beets, so those are probably a loss.  The kale, chard, broccoli and spinach have all gone missing.  So I may need a contract out on those grasshoppers.  I am trying to chalk it up to a learning experience.

However, I just had an epiphany.  If I have some unused window sheers, they may work to keep out the grasshoppers.  Hmm.  It is an idea.

Garlic should arrive next week.  Look for a post on that, too.

Sorry for the long post.  Guess I should really post every day!  Until tomorrow...


  1. I am voting against goats. After having worked in the Indianapolis Zoo's goat yard for a summer, I hate the damn things. They are little destroyers of the world. They will consistently chew all the fencing including both metal and wood, so you'll need to add those costs in.

  2. Good thoughts, Michele. I think I definitely need to do a pros/cons post to look at the data. (hah!) Unscientifically, I am leaning against goats, too.

  3. Kevin and I toyed with the idea of getting goats. We even talked to Grandma about it (AKA: Goddess of all things farm related and Giver of down home advice)...

    Grandma says not to waste your time on goats- she hated hers (remember her and our favorite Aunt passing Henry back and forth). Also, Grandma says that goats will eat all of the things you don't want them to (e.g. your garden and roses) first... then they'll tackle the poison ivy and crab grass.

    Grandma votes No Goats.


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