Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Hiking with Goats

I hope you are not already bored with footage and videos of the new goat kids and our hiking with them because I am certain that they are going to be a long and frequent feature here. I am so smitten with them! With visions of weekend camping trips using the goats as pack animals for long hikes, we have started the beginnings of training them already. That's right. We have every intention of taking our goats camping with us.

Stay tuned to see how that turns out!

The first step towards reaching our goal is to teach our kids to walk with us. Without their Momma's milk supply to distract them, the kids are more inclined to prefer to stay with us- once we get going, that is. Initially, often their first reaction is to turn around and go whichever way they want. Our patient, persistent calling of them helps to guide them to follow us and when that invariably fails, we resort to carrying them a bit until they get the point. I suppose we could use leashes to train them, but I have yet to see a shepherd with their goats all tethered on a line. Somehow he/she manages to convince them to walk with him/her. We shall do the same. Basically, as herd animals, we use their natural inclination to want to be with the herd. We call to them and walk the
direction we want to go. If we walk away far enough, they panic and run to catch up with us. At least, that is what happens sometimes. Other times, they panic and decide to run back towards the parked car. With repeated practice, we are hopeful that the "sometimes" will become "all the time". I think a pocket full of grain will do wonders in assisting us in teaching the kids to come with us. Additionally, we are teaching them their names. By repeating their names as we feed them, play, and pet them, we are hopeful that they will soon learn to recognize their individual call and respond as we would like them to.

The next step will involve my sewing grain sacks into light weight packs. I know these are available to purchase already, but being frugal (and having an unending supply of empty grain bags to use) I plan to sew my own. In time, our goat kids will get used to wearing their packs empty and then we can add a small amount of weight to them.

Itchy horns to scratch!
This is all new ground to us, but we are looking forward to learning along with our kids. If Sean gets home from work early enough and the rain stays away, Hadassah and Keren will go for a short hike up Mount Waldo with us. We had been taking Jane, too, but now that we have a truck instead of an SUV, Jane's walks will have to wait until a safe crate can be built for her to ride in. The kids ride on my lap. Another project to add to our growing "to do" list.

Daddy Dale, Sean and I, Krissy, Meaghan and their Dad hiked a short trail on Mount Waldo on Monday evening. This is some of the footage from that outing:

After our hike, Sean has plans to transplant our 50 tomato seedlings into larger containers. They all have their true leaves and are 3-4 inches tall and thriving. We'll be using empty soda bottles to create mini greenhouses for them to continue to grow inside, until we finally transplant them into the raised beds once the fear of frost has passed. Our broccoli is also coming just fine. Five, 6-packs of peppers have been begun, but they have not germinated as of yet. It is past time to start our watermelons and we can begin our kale and lettuces, too.


While Sean is busy gardening, I intend to make a few batches of goat's milk soap using the first fruits of our milking for the year. We separated the does from their kids for the past 2 nights and this morning, we milked them for the first time. Rachel and Leah, having never been milked before and kidding singletons each did not do too badly for their first time. We collected 9.5 oz from Leah, 12.3 oz from Rachel, and 17.8 oz from Ruby. This was encouraging, but will definitely need to increase if we are going to have enough milk for making the amount of soaps and cheeses we hope to this year. We are confident that the amounts will increase and are very much looking forward to tracking that. For now, Sean collected enough milk for me to make three full batches of soaps. I am planning on creating more lavender and Maine woods. And, I am going to make our first batch of Peppermint scented soap. Since I was sent a sample size of "Powder Fresh" essential oil, I am going to make a half batch of it to sample. Perhaps it will become part of our line up?

So much to do around the farm these days. How exciting!

Thanks for visiting tonight, friends. Your company is appreciated.
Sonja ♥

1 comment:

  1. I was looking to see if Sean was wearing his coat. Nope. What a rocky mountain! Those babies are sure sure-footed!