I could write a million blog posts on my goats. In fact, I have an entire category created for them, including our breeding pages. They are amazing creatures that really do make everything better. When I am stressed, upset, or just need a breather, I head to our goat pens and just hang out with them. They are seriously my favorite critter on the homestead. But it wasn’t always the case. Bringing goats to the homestead wasn’t my first choice, but I’m really glad we did it.
When we were set to actually close on our homestead, we knew we wanted to raise rabbits, chickens, maybe a pig or two. But I had done some research on goats and I was pretty resistant to the idea. I’m sure anyone that wants to homestead has heard that goats are escape artists. They will find the smallest of holes and your entire herd is gone. We have heard that they eat everything and are hard to kill. Or my personal favorite, goats are entry level livestock. Uh, no. This is wrong. Except the escape artist part.
After all of that research, I quickly realized that goats were a lot more work than I wanted to start with on the homestead. We would need to have two because they get lonely. They cannot eat everything, in fact more things will make them sick then they can actually eat! The fencing had to be fool proof and even then they would still get out. This is not how I want to start this adventure.
While we were working on clearing fencing and brush, Jared says, “Let’s get goats. They will be like long term lawn mowers.” After the research I had done, I really didn’t want to. But I really dislike telling Jared no. So off we went to get goats.
We got two mini Nubians simply because we liked the way they looked. But we had absolutely no clue what we were doing. We wanted animals that were going to eat brush and very low maintenance. That is not what we got.
Not Entry Level Livestock
Voldemort came to us loaded with worms. The guy we got him from said they treated him and said he would be fine. We got Bella and V on July 4th and by end of July, he was dead. When we took him to the vet the day prior, she said she had never seen a worm load as high as his was. We were told to prepare for him to die. Barber pole worms attach to the lining of the intestines so when the worms died off, there was a very high chance that he would bleed out internally. If that didn’t kill him, the dewormer we were forced to use, may kill him. He died the next day.
Since goats are herd animals, they will escape to find a new herd. Bella was without a friend for four days. In those four days I was scrambling to find a new goat, she escaped three separate times. But, I found three new goats to bring to the homestead. Midas came first but he is such a Drama King! Seriously, he was a nightmare for a brand new goat owner!
Then Champion and Texas came the day after Midas. We were doing okay at that point. We got everyone together after a quarantine, which I didn’t know was a thing until Midas’ breeder told us. Que a hasty fence build. But we were getting there. We were learning and I was doing all the research I could on them. I had officially fallen in love with them!
What we learned about goats:
That day at the vet, we learned all about FAMACHA scores, dewormer resistance, and basic care of goats. But I was heartbroken. Bella was, and still is extremely skittish, but V? He wanted all the love. He was so sweet. When we lost him, I told Jared that I wanted to sell Bella. I couldn’t stand the heartbreak of losing another goat. But he wanted to keep trying.
Then tragedy struck again. Texas got really sick. We had no idea. I posted on one of my Facebook groups about how he was fading and I didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, we were not prepared and we lost him the next morning.
Education is king
Since then, I have turned into a goat nerd and have read every thing I can get my hands on about goats. I am part of several goat groups on Facebook and we have an amazing vet. Now, I feel like I have a better handle on what is going on with these babies. Not a great handle, but at least now I have people and resources that I can use to help keep my babies healthy.
I don’t think anyone can learn all there is about goats. They like to create new ways of un-aliving themselves. Jade just learned that she can jump on top of our propane tank. Finn learned the hard way that jumping off of things leads to hurt shoulders.
Since bringing home our first goats, our herd has grown to 12. Here in a few months we will be welcoming two new does to start our meat goat program. We have also fought off six different cases of mountain laurel poisoning.
We came through all of this because we learned.
A Year Later
In the year since owning goats, we have learned a ton. I have helped pull two of the four kids born on the farm. We learned how to train goats on a milk stand. How to flip dominant goats to make sure they don’t hurt you. We’ve also learned that giving goats injections is totally different than giving them to humans. We learned how to castrate and Jared is learning how to disbud them.
Goats are seriously amazing and I do highly encourage people to get them. They are really cool critters that have amazing personalities. But they are not entry level livestock. They will escape. Goats die WAY easier than anyone lets on. But man they are so much fun!
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