Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goats and more...

If someone had suggested 5 years ago that I would own a single goat, I would have cheerfully provided them directions to the nearest "funny farm". Goats??? Really???

Goats. Really.

My sister owned a goat farm in a small community in rural Maine and I will admit (and hope she does not read this) that I thought she was a little crazy. I mean, goats are smelly, right? And, they are cute enough when in a petting farm environment, but there was nothing remotely interesting to me about owning one. Until, my youngest daughters started asking for horses of their own. My eldest daughter was already in possession of one horse and worked part time to pay for its upkeep and maintenance. We had a small field, just a few acres for her to graze in, but even this needed to be supplemented with hay because it was a rough field, more bracken than alfalfa. More horses were too expensive a proposition in terms of time and materials. But, they had one point in their arguments for acquiring more horses.... companionship. Wouldn't Jasmine be happier with a friend?

That argument lay dormant in the recesses of my mind until the day my sister called to offer me a couple of male goats from her herd. One Boer/Oberhausli cross and as a companion for him, one LaMancha cross for the small price of $25 and an evening of babysitting her awesome brood of six. She assured me of the ease of their care and what wonderful companions they'd be for Jasmine. They had their shots, were beautifully colored, friendly, and most importantly, were healthy. So, I took a look at them, got sucked in by their cute faces and big eyes, and agreed. Feel free to become delighted with the notion that our horse, Jasmine had a goat companion, namely Jedidiah... and we got Jedidiah a goat named Asher. So, instead of one goat, we started out with two. Two bucks, even.

We named the boys Jedidiah and Asher. Jedi, the Boer cross, had horns and ears and personality. Asher, the LaMancha cross was horn less, ear less, and thoroughly a quietly sweet lad. (The bucket is not stuck on his head. Asher learned to tip over his water bucket and place it on his head. Then, the boys would butt heads; it was his helmet, of sorts. Hilarious to watch.)
Jedi has a love of boxes. Even now, he will happily walk around with a box on his head.

We had no idea what we were doing. The fencing for the horse proved woefully inadequate to keep in goats, who in Houdini-esque fashion managed to get out of every fence we cobbled together, including an electrified one! We were bad goat owners, fatally unprepared. Our neighbors were understandably upset with the boys wandering onto their porch. We were at our wits end. Our solution to the mess was to tether the boys on a "y" tie out, tied to several bricks during the day. This we could move from place to place in the back yard. In the evening, they would be untethered and locked into their stall in the barn. It worked for the Spring and most of the Summer. It wasn't a great system, but we intended on building a solid paddock for them, as soon as it was feasible. It wasn't feasible quickly enough.

One day, we returned home to a stupid, avoidable, senseless tragedy. Asher had gotten tangled in the tether and died. The children were inconsolable, and we were just devastated by guilt. We made it "feasible" to create a proper pen and paddock immediately, but the damage was done. I still think about him and his adorable antics frequently and I deeply regret how utterly unprepared and uneducated I was.

I don't sit down to write this, to begin this blog on such a sad note, but I do want others to be able to learn from my mistakes and avoid the consequences of them. I promise, most of this blog will be devoted to the delights I have learned these wonderful, intelligent creatures to be. But, this blog is also a journal of our life on the farm, with its successes and failures, our journey at trying our hand at small family farming in rural Maine. From my experiences these past 3 years, I can assure you that there are more triumphs than failures, and sometimes those blessings come in mysterious and unintended ways.

So, thus ends my first post. In my next post, I will introduce you to our current cast of characters and I will be including snippets of video of life around Lally Broch Farms. I hope you enjoy!

Sonja ♥

1 comment:

  1. Snappy doodles, I am sitting here crying after seeing that picture of Asher with the bucket on his head.