Morning critters, and a surprising offer

This morning, when I opened the basement door to check on Beep Beep and the babies, I found her right on the top step!

I had a crowd of upstairs cats eager to go downstairs, and I think she was rather taken aback by the sight of them. πŸ˜€ I headed downstairs and she did go up into the entryway, but then turned around and followed me, as I topped up her food bowl.

All of the babies have wide open eyes now.

No, there isn’t a missing kitty. The fifth one is just hidden away, in the corner, buried in siblings. πŸ˜€

After luring the other cats out of the basement so Beep Beep wouldn’t be surrounded by exploring cats, I headed outside to do my rounds.

Looking out the windows, earlier, we couldn’t see the goat anywhere, but she turned out to be curled up on the concrete in front of one of the sun room windows. She still wouldn’t let me anywhere near her. I checked the pen we made, and from the pile of poop in front of the open end, I could at least tell she came close. I couldn’t tell if she had been drinking any water (there was a layer of ice across the top I had to remove!), and the only food we had to give her was sunflower seeds for the birds, and that looked untouched. I know she’s grazing, but there just isn’t a lot of grass in our yard. Especially this time of year.

I continued my rounds, with Potato Beetle doing his usual.

He does this over and over. He runs in front of my feet, then throws himself to the ground and begins rolling around, wanting me to pet him. He seems utterly indifferent to the fact that I’m walking, and how close he comes to getting stepped on, every time!

Once I finished my morning rounds, I headed into “town” to our little general store/liquor store/post office/gas station. This is where we usually get our deer feed and bird seed. I knew they had feed for chickens and such, too, but have never looked too closely at the stacks.

I had swung by there on the way to picking up my daughter from work, just to let the owner – who sees just about everyone in town at some point – know about the goats. She didn’t know who had goats near us, either, but if she had anyone come in, saying they were missing goats, she would be able to tell them they were at our place.

As soon as I came in, she asked me if I’d found the owner. πŸ˜€ I told her who it turned out to be, and she said she had taken a look at a map of the municipality, so see the different farms near us, trying to see who might have goats. I told her we still had one at our place, about our inability to catch her, and said that I wanted to try using food, and asked her what she had that was good for goats.

It turns out there is one brand of animal feed that has many different feed mixes, all in identical green and white bags. They each have a label sewn into the top (all the feed bags are sewn shut; this way, you just pull at one end to undo the stitching, making it much easier to open the bags). The labels give the names of the mixes, and nutritional information. Thankfully, she has a price list for these, organized by animal! πŸ˜€ So she was able to tell me which ones to look for. It turned out there were two types for goats; a nanny mix and a kid mix. I grabbed the nanny mix.

When I got home and the goat saw me carrying the bag on my shoulder, she got so excited, and started running to me! I am guessing the original owner bought feed from this same store, and the goat recognized the bag. I went into the sun room to be able to put it down to open it, and she actually started to go into the sun room with me! I couldn’t let her come in, though; it’s not safe for her in there, and she’s not safe for my seedlings! I scooped up some feed and headed out, and she followed me around as I emptied her own feed container of the sunflower seeds, then added the new feed.

She almost came into the pen to get the food, but the open end is narrow, and I had to go past her to leave the pen, which spooked her away. She was clearly very hungry and eager to eat, but rather than go into the pen, she followed me, eyeballing the container of feed in my hand. I ended up leaving a bit in front of the pen, then some more near the sun room door.

Once she saw that, she came right up and started eating, even though I was still standing there.

Yes!!! I was able to pet her!

Not for very long, mind you. Once she’d eaten a bit, she started to become skittish again, so I let her be.

I am guessing this feed, which looks quite different from what the owner had brought over, which was not crushed fine like you can see in the photo, is what she is used to. It was very gratifying to see her eating, and being willing to come so close to me.

Once I was back inside, I sent a message to the owner, letting him know the progress. I told him about our plans to use the new feed to lure her into the pen and, at some point, gently close her in. He was very happy to hear this. (As I was writing this, I was informed by my daughter that the goat has, indeed, gone into the pen!)

Then he told me that, once we catch her and he brings her home, he will put her in with the ram. After that, if we want them, he would be willing to give us BOTH milk goats, once we have a proper pen for them.

!!!!!

Now, this would be a sort of a win win for both sides. He had mentioned that these two goats have been nothing but trouble for him. He has meat goats, not milk goats. With these two being so wild, and so many other goats to care for, he just would not be able do too much about them. We, on the other hand, have no other high needs animals. We could spend the time to get them used to people, and finally be able to do things like trim their hooves. For us, we’d get the milk goats we were wanting to eventually get – for free. If we build a moveable paddock, we can do what I hoped to do by borrowing goats, first; have them grazing in areas we can’t keep clear otherwise, that end up becoming fire hazards. We can even use them to help clear some of the bush for us. Goats can be very useful animals for permaculture.

We have to think about this, though. It’s not just about building a pen for them. If we’re going to be milking goats, we need to build/buy a milking stand, to make it easier to reach, get food grade containers for milking and storage, and a way to deal with surplus milk – cheese making had been one of my thoughts for that, but that requires supplies, too. There is also, of course, the buying of feed. Especially in winter.

There would be a pretty steep learning curve.

We can do it. I have no doubt about that. The question is, are we up to it, at this point?

I am leaning towards yes, but it’s not up to just me!

The Re-Farmer

3 thoughts on “Morning critters, and a surprising offer

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