Well, dear reader, the goats finally wore out their welcome at the neighboring farm where they spent the spring and summer. In late spring, we took all our weaned babies and anyone who wasn’t producing milk, with the exception of Abu, our billy goat, to a farm a few miles away. The farm raises beef cows. Although there are acres of pasture, much of it is filled with brush and plants unappetizing to cows. That is where the goats come in, eat all the brush, and help manage the pasture.
It’s a win/win situation for all involved. Our pasture fields get a break, have time to recover, and our parasite load is lessened. The farmer gets his pasture fields cleared in a green, chemical-free manner, and our goats grow like crazy. The goats spend approximately six months at our friend’s farm. Eric received a phone call from our farmer friend on Monday. The goats have eaten the most desirable brush, and even though the pastures are lush and green, their eyes and stomachs have discovered that the brush is greener on the other side. It’s an untruth that goats are stupid creatures. They are actually quite intelligent and agile problem solvers. They are whizzes at figuring out how to get where they want to be, even if you don’t want them there. We must keep snaps on all our stalls because the girls have figured out how to open the latches with their lips. Miss Fuchsia, aka Little Black, is the most ingenious criminal in our herd.
At the neighboring farm, the goats discovered a weakness in the fence. Where there is a will, there is a way, and a weak spot in the fence offered this way. The goats were found outside the pasture perimeters and were helping themselves to whatever struck their fancy. Although they went back inside the fence willingly, once the boundary has been compromised, they will continue to come and go as they please. This is dangerous and undesirable for many reasons.
First and foremost, it isn’t safe for the goats. It leaves them wide open to predators, dogs, and poisonous plants. It also allows them to run amuck and destroy plants one doesn’t want to be destroyed. Secondly, I’m sure our farmer friend doesn’t want to be responsible for something bad happening to animals that aren’t his. Lastly, animals do become lost. We have had several incidents in the recent past where neighbors’ goats have gotten out and ended up miles away from their homes. The high prices dairy goats are fetching at the market could lead to illegal sales of goats from opportunistic individuals. With all this considered, when our goats become problematic, it is no wonder our farmer friend was ready for them to return home.
Eric received the phone call in the morning, and I believe he had the trailer attached and the goats loaded within the hour. We would never want to inconvenience anyone or create offense. We are grateful for the opportunity and appreciate the agreement. Our farmer friend expressed surprise and appreciation for Eric’s speedy response. We know our goats are valued and well cared for while there because our farmer friend’s grandson cried when the goats left. Eric told him he was welcome to visit anytime, and the goats would return in the spring if all went well.
For the time being, we now have more than thirty goats in our pasture. The babies are no longer babies. Everyone has grown to a surprisingly large stature. Next month, Eric will take the majority of them to the market. Many will be bought to milk and expand dairy herds, and I don’t allow myself to think about where the others will go. One thing that comforts me is that they are beautiful, healthy, and friendly. These qualities stand out to buyers, and I feel our babies often become pets. True or not, this is the story I tell myself.
Once again, when I look out to the pasture, I see a vast herd rather than my six core girls. Abu is still in rut; insert gagging noise. The older my boy gets, the grosser his rut season becomes. Not even Eric will enter the pasture field with him. Anytime anyone is near the fence or inside the pasture with him, he rears, head butts, and sprays urine everywhere. I thought he had sores on his face, but his white fur is just stained and clumped from constantly peeing on his beard. It doesn’t help that the girls are in the pasture across the driveway and out of his range. He has a path worn around the perimeter of the pasture field and doesn’t even want to eat his grain. I politely say he is lovesick, but in truth, he is just super horny. He will remain unsatisfied for another few weeks to a month. We are hoping for late March to early April babies. Until then, poor Abu will continue to pace, call, waggle his tongue, and urinate on himself with no relief in sight.
If you are able to attend our Fall at the Farm event, you will get to see this year’s beautiful babies, who have become beautiful adults. As always, time continues to move forward, babies grow, seasons change, and life continues its constant cycle. On this grey October day, stay safe, be smart, and keep washing your hands.