I was zombified at Tractor supply one afternoon when a little old lady passed my register. She was buying goat feed. Out of politeness I struck up a conversation and asked her about her goats, she told me she had a Nigerian Dwarf Doe who was currently pregnant. As we continued chatting (I made my excuse to help load her car) I found out she was quite local to us, had chickens, goats, steers (Bulls with no bits!) and sheep. That her and her husband were using all the animals for a purpose and she had a very low maintenance farm. I had to see this for myself, so we arranged for me to pop over and see the farm the next week. Once I was there I got this overwhelming sense of purpose, she was essentially doing what me and Laurence were un-knowingly swaying towards, becoming more self-sufficient.
I had never heard of an average family just casually owning a couple of steers, in their garden, for their own meat purposes. This is something I have never even considered. Laurence had mentioned a few times how people at work had bought half or quarter of a cow, and I thought it was a little absurd. But it made sense, with the price of cattle and people now wanting to know where their meat came from, AND most people preferring grass fed over grains, this was a decent low cost way of feeding yourself for a year easily. Interesting.
Anyway back to the goats, I saw ‘Angel’ in the same pen as the cows and the sheep just out sunbathing when we arrived, she looked like she was about to pop any moment!
The old lady asked me about our farm and where we were going with it (I wasn’t sure to be honest, so kind of just rambled about all the things I thought were possible) she seemed very excited for us, and asked “Do you want to add some goats?” Without hesitation at the thought of these adorable goats just frolicking around the pasture I was like “absolutely!!”
Unfortunately, Laurence did not share my enthusiasm and when I told him, just said that there was no purpose for them, it wasn’t worth it. I tried very hard to convince him, telling him that they would keep the lawn tidy, eat all the weeds, and then worst case, if they were males we could also use them for stud. Angel eventually gave birth on the 29th October to one female and 2 males. The owner wanted to keep the female for herself, so offered us the two boys, I dragged Laurence over to her farm the very next day to see them and eventually Laurence was won over when I said we could name them “Bill & Ted” from one of his old favourite movies, Bill & Teds excellent adventure.
On the 29th December we bought the boys back to their new home, kicking and screaming doesn’t even begin to describe the sound these poor boys made when we took them away from their mother. Once home in the barn they cried for a further day. It was heart breaking.
We spent every single moment we could after that trying to get the boys to trust us, it took a good couple of weeks before they started eating from our hands, and eventually jumping up towards us (something in hindsight we shouldn’t have allowed!)
We had to make some amendments to their pasture as the boys were much smaller than we imagined, and we spotted a few places they would probably break out of, but after a week shut in the barn we let them out to their new half acre of goat heaven, weeds, grass, playhouses, they settled in just great, and didn’t try to escape once!
The boys were still intact by this point and our local vet was really pushing to get them castrated, we resisted, as we still intended to use them for stud, but as the boys grew bigger, we did start to notice that funky buck smell. The last straw for poor bill was when he was jumping all over Laurence one afternoon, decided to crouch and pee all over Laurence’s head. Of course ending in hilarious laughter from all of us, but in reality we knew we would have to think about getting the boys banded if we ever wanted to go out and play with them again.
So you’ll be pleased to know we did get them castrated and they are essentially just pets now. As Laurence first predicted, no real use to the farm, but hey, they don’t cost a lot. I cut their hooves once every 4-5 weeks. I occasionally give them grain in the evening to get them to go to bed. And we supply loose minerals & fly spray. Other than that no other costs incurred. So here are our boys, they add entertainment value to the farm, for sure, but if you are setting up a homestead, unless you are planning to start selling and making goats milk, then I wouldn’t advise adding goats.