Bye Goat!

When I was doing my rounds last night, including the outer yard, I got some company.

Though we made a point of closing the gates in the chain link fence, the truth is, the goat could have gotten out at any time, if she wanted. And this time, she wanted to follow a cat!

As I did my founds this morning, she followed me for the entire circuit!

We were having no luck closing her up in the pen we threw together, but maybe… just maybe…

Would she follow me if I walked over to her owner’s place?

I figured it was worth a shot. After having breakfast (and taking some pain killers!), a grabbed a bit of feed in a bucket and started walking.

She enjoyed a bit of feed while I locked the gate behind me. 🙂

For the first while, we were being followed by Creamsicle and Butterscotch. The goat was happy to come along with all of us.

Also, I spotted these ahead on the road. I zoomed in, and it’s hard to see, but…

… can you see those shapes on the road?

There was about 4 or 5 of them, all in a row, when I first spotted them.

They’re cranes!

I often hear their calls from that direction, and had a good idea of where they were, and this has been confirmed.

This is where the cranes were. When I was a kid, we used to all this area the Three Ponds. In reality, it was more like one pond and a couple of marshy bits, but we didn’t care!

I spent many happy hours slogging around in the water, spotting mysterious creatures among the underwater plants and observing them.

This area is so full of water right now! The last couple of years, even the deepest part here was almost completely dry.

For a while, I thought leading the goat wouldn’t work. I almost reached about a third of a mile when the goat started going back the other way. She was following the cats. Butterscotch and Creamsicle were following, but they reached about the quarter mile mark and didn’t want to go any further. I ended up back tracking quite a bit, before the goat was willing to turn back to me. What I ended up finding was that if I walked my normal pace (which is a brisk walk), she would actually run to catch up with me, and follow along more diligently, rather than wandering off to the ditches as she did when I walked slowly. Especially after we had to pause to let a truck drive by. I think it spooked her a bit, and she kept up with me a lot more after that.

I’d posted earlier about the flowing stream I’d found that was a surprise to me. This is where that water reaches the road.

We are past the farm’s property line at this point. The photo on the left belongs to the guy who owns the goat, I think. That quarter section has been split up since we last lived in the area, and I don’t know where the new lines have been drawn, so I can’t be sure.

This is part of the municipal drainage system, and one which takes advantage of a low area that was already there, naturally. In one of the photos, you can see some piles of dirt from when it sometimes gets dredged. This is more what I was expecting, at our place. Basically, a big ditch of slowly draining water. Not a fast flowing stream.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but the markers are warnings for the dip that runs across the road. When I was a kid, this section of road would get washed out, every spring. Sometimes, so much would wash away, the school bus couldn’t get through. The driver would have to reverse the bus for about 2/3 of a mile, before he could use our driveway to turn around in. Eventually, the municipality cut down all the trees that were growing along the ditches on either side. After that, the road no longer washed away. It wasn’t until after I moved off the farm that the drainage ditch was dredged out, and a culvert placed under the road. It’s at this culvert that the road is sinking!

We turned at the 1 mile intersection, then it was another 1/4 mile or so to the driveway of the owner. It was at this point that I think the goat started to really recognize things. She perked right up and started going ahead of me, instead of following behind.

When I started going down the driveway, which is closely bordered by trees, it took a bit to get the goat to go down the driveway, too – but soon we were walking past a goat pen, and she went right over!

Just look at the size of those bucks!

The other milk goat is in there with them.

As I continued down the driveway, I was greeted by three BIG Great Pyrenees dogs, wagging their tails, furiously. I didn’t know he had dogs! I’d seem them before, but in other people’s fields, and had no idea who they belonged to. Such gorgeous animals!

As I went around, I saw the other goat pen way beyond the house. The owner, however, was not home.

I didn’t expect that. With the lock down, pretty much everyone is home. I didn’t even think that he might not be.

So I sent him a text right away, letting him know the goat had followed me over, and was at the pen near the rams (he called them rams, but male goats are called bucks).

The response was not what I expected.

I thought, at the very least, he would be happy for relieved the goat was home again.

Instead, he was all stressed out that she was there and not in a pen.

Long story short, he told me he was going to get a buddy to go over and put her down.

I tried to reassure him, saying the goat would stay near the other goats and be fine, but nope.

At that point, I was most of the way home again and just stopped responding. She’s his goat, and he can do what he wants with her, but what the heck? Why such an extreme response?

I find myself wondering. He could have been having a lot more problems with the goats than he’d hinted at before, and maybe he had been counting on us taking the two milk goats off of his hands. He had still wanted her back to breed with the bucks, though, and would have kept her until we had a pen ready. Maybe he thought that if he said this, he expected me to turn around and take her back? I don’t know. I’m only guessing.

Whatever his reasons and motives, I can’t help but feel ticked off that he was so eager to just shoot her. I didn’t want or even expect any sort of thanks for bringing the goat back, but I did expect him to at least be happy to have her again. Not immediately have her put down.

Whether or not he’ll follow through with this, I don’t know. I don’t know what circumstances he’s going through with his goats, it’s not up to us, and we are not in a position to take the goats ourselves right now. There is just no way we can set up the fencing needed right now. A few months from now, maybe, but not right now.

In hindsight, I probably should have contacted him before I headed over, but I hadn’t planned on doing it, and didn’t even know it would work. Now, I kinda wish I hadn’t.

It has, however, been a learning experience for us.

I still think we will be getting milk goats, but will go back to our original timeline. We’ll take a couple of years to get ready for them, while continuing to clean up around the property. Then, when we do get them, we will buy them from someone I know, who raises goats and works very closely with them; these will not be untamed goats!

Meanwhile, we can dismantle the pen we threw together, then put together the stuff that is his, like the chicken wire and food containers. I might end up using the wood to build squash trellises, instead. I should probably be outside already, working on that, but…

I’m just feeling quite ticked off right now.

Bye, Goat.

The Re-Farmer

Broken gates, sad seedlings and critter company

The chain link fence in front of the house has two gates in it. One smaller, people-sized gate, and a larger vehicle-sized gate.

Both are broken at the hinges.

I had been leaving both gates open; we only ever needed to close them when the renter’s cows got into the outer yard, when his electric fence failed. With the people gate, when we closed it to keep the goat in the inner yard, the top hinge came completely loose from the pin. It still was doing the job, though – until today!

While I was working on the new garden plot, I heard a commotion. I don’t know how she did it, but the goat knocked the gate off its hinges, and got a hoof caught in the chain link!

She was able to get herself out without any help, but I had to just set the gate aside until later.

In the early evening, while I was in the pen, trying to get the goat comfortable with the idea of being in there with me, the girls were kind enough to fix the gate. Well. As much as it can be fixed, for now.

The ring around the post ended up needing to be lowered. The clasp on the gate side was twisted open, and has been closed up again around the pin, as much as we can. The bottom one, at least, just needed the pin straightened out, then it could be slipped right into the clasp.

Unfortunately, the other post has shifted, so while the latch parts now line up again (with a bit of adjusting), the post is leaning too far away for the latch to catch. So we’ll just use the rubber cord that was already on the fence when we moved here. 😀

The vehicle gate has been left as is. I don’t know if we’ll even bother trying to fix the hinges on that one. They are pretty twisted up, but at least they can’t be knocked to the ground, as they currently are.

We partially succeeded in getting the goat to go into the pen, then let her be, so as not to create bad associations with the pen. We still wanted to be out and around her, though, so it was a good time to start soaking the new garden plot.

She and Potato Beetle kept us company!

The cats are still intimidated by her, but their curiosity seems to be slowly overcoming their nervousness!

Also, we need to pick up a new 100 ft hose. The old ones, in spite of my repairs last year, are not holding out well! The only good hose we have right now is the new 50 ft hose we picked up last fall. With two hoses together to make 100 ft, it doesn’t reach the plot, so we can’t set up a sprinkler. We just have to spray it from a short distance away.

We will be giving the garden plot thorough waterings over the next few days, while I start the carrot seeds germinating indoors. According to the video, it should take up to 4 days. We’re not expecting any rain in that time, so it’s up to us to get the soil watered deeply.

As for the seeds I started in trays…

This is the tray with all squash seeds. No gourds have come up at all, yet. The middle is the “summer surprise” mix and, so far, I’m thinking only one variety as started growing. On the right are the patty pans, and only a couple have showed up, there.

These are the cucamelons, and I’m actually rather pleased with how many have sprouted, so far.

Once I see how many have successfully sprouted for transplants, I’ll have a better idea of how I need to prep the garden area, and what I need for trellises. I was going to build those in advance, but I decided to see how many sprout, first, so I know how many I’ll need. From the looks of it, that was a good decision.

Then there is the fennel.

I’m rather disappointed with these. The only ones that have sprouted where the ones that showed up while it was still set up in the living room. They got really leggy, immediately, and no other seeds have sprouted! We might not have any fennel at all this year, if this doesn’t improve.

Meanwhile, I got notified by Veseys, with a tracker number, that our Yukon Gem potatoes have been shipped. They are expected to arrive in 8 days, so we have time to prepare where we want to plant them.

Thankfully, the weather is pleasant during the day, though temperatures are still dipping below freezing overnight.

There is lots to get done outside in the next little while!

The Re-Farmer

Morning critters

Hello, kitties!

The kittens seem to be away more often, and squirming around their nest a bit more. When I first came down to tend to their mother, the tuxedo was well away from the others, and close to the outside end of the box. My being there seemed to disturb him, because he quickly squirmed his way back to the fur pile. 😀

My morning escort! 😀

Of course, I tried to spend time with the goat. When I got some feed in the container I use as a scoop, she was willing to stick her head right in to eat, and let me pet her.

As an aside, the Costco popcorn containers are really useful. I’ve got several that I used to scoop up feed or cat kibble. These ones have the bottoms cut off and the lids left on. I use others, without any parts cut off, for water in the winter, instead of the pitcher we used before. The heavy duty plastic of the containers make them better for scooping the feed out, and the size lets me keep a rough consistency in portions.

As for the goat, she was really interested in the feed while I carried it, but once I added it to the feed container in the pen, she still wanted to check me out for feed and followed me around. She let me pet her again, but only while she had her face in the feed. 😀 She did go into the pen a couple of times, and at one of them, I swung the “gate” closed a little more. I probably should not have done it while she was in there, as it spooked her out, but I didn’t think of it until it was too late. If we can keep closing the “gate” end, little by little, so she gets used to it, is should make it easier to close her in .

Theoretically. She might simply refuse to go in at all, if it’s too closed up.

As I walked around the yard, she didn’t quite follow me, but she did move further away from the doors. She has been going into the old kitchen garden and finding things to eat in there, which is good – for now. There are plants coming through the layers of mulch we put down to build up the soil that we are trying to kill off. This includes some spreading roses. I had hoped to not have to dig them out by the roots, but it seems I will have to, to get rid of them. There are a couple of rose bushes that will stay. It’s the spreading ones that are going to make using this area more difficult. I was happy to see that she will eat the stems that have come up. The thorns don’t seem to phase her at all.

Of course, she also tried to come closer to the cats.

She followed Pumpshack cat up onto the clothes line platform, but when the cat went around the bin, and she could no longer see him, she decided to give Mary a kiss on the head! 😀

She is also very curious about the sun room! She knows this is where the feed bag is – or at least that food comes out through this door! It’s too bad we can’t use this room to contain her, since she seems much more willing to go into here than the garage. If we did close her in and she tried to escape, though, I could see her knocking my seedlings all over, or even breaking her way through the glass.

I’ve been researching about goats, of course, and one of the things I’ve read is that they don’t like to eat feed or hay off the ground, and if they’ve pooped or peed near food that’s on the ground, they won’t eat it. So I took a container we found while cleaning out the basement – a rectangular bin of thick, hard plastic, with a nice, flat bottom – and put it upside down in the pen, then put the feed container on top of the bin. She seemed pretty good with that set up.

So my plan will be to spend much of the day outside, working on the new garden plot, to keep an eye on her.

The down side with all this is, we haven’t had a chance to work on the replacement door. All it needs at this point is to have the recesses for the hinges chiselled out, touch up the paint in the recesses. Once the paint is cured, we just need to attach the hinges and install it.

Hopefully, that is something we can make progress on, today.

The Re-Farmer

Goat progress

I got to spend a bit of time outside this evening, just to try and get the goat used to us being about.

I wasn’t able to get a photo, but I actually got her to eat out of my hand!! She wouldn’t let me touch her, though. As soon as I moved, she would take off.

She did go into the pen we made, but I think she realizes that it can be closed up behind her, because she leaves as soon as we move near, even just to walk past.

One of the things I did was go around, sweeping away her little round presents on the steps and concrete. Somehow, she even managed to poop in one of the cat food bowls!

While I was doing that, she did this…

Too funny!

Cats like to hang out at both windows, and she is very determined to get close to a cat!

As I went around the yard, she started to follow me around. She always kept her distance, but was very curious.

Once inside, I left the inner door open for a bit, so she could say hello to Fenrir. 😀

What a cutie!

Meanwhile, we still need to think about the offer the owner made, to give us both milk goats. I don’t know if we’ll be able to set up a pen of them in the next while. It’s something I will need advice on, just to know what we need. Not just for the two goats, but their kids, as well!

I am waffling back and forth on this, by the minute!

As I was writing the, my husband called me over.

The goat is watching him through his window! 😀

The Re-Farmer

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. 😀 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. 😀

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. 😀 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! 😀 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

Building a goat catcher!

After the owner of our visiting goat had to leave, we needed to figure out how we could make use of the chicken wire he left behind for us.

I knew there was a pile of wood in the barn, and I thought there might be some 2x4s on the bottom.

As soon as we were able, my younger daughter and I headed for the barn to dig them out.

Once they were cleared of the stuff on top, I discovered they were not 2x4s.

They were 3x4s. In pine – some still had bark on them. They were very roughly cut, some of the ends were wonky, and they were definitely not high end cuts. But they would do the job!

I decided to find a way to make a small corral of sorts, in such a way that we wouldn’t have to cut chicken wire that isn’t ours. I figured I could frame out the sides and ends of a sort of paddock, with uprights the same height, or slightly taller, than the chicken wire, then longer boards across top and bottom. With the wire attached across all of the sections at once, it could then be “folded” to create a fenced in area with a “gate” at one end.

The boards turned out to be 100 inches long.

Well… most of them…

So we cut uprights at 50 inches long. Four boards to make 8 uprights.

Then we unrolled the chicken wire and used the remaining long boards we’d brought to see if we could fit 4 of them, with spaces in between to create gaps that would allow us to “fold” the fence.

The wire was not long enough for 4 full length boards, so we ended up cutting a couple in half. This would give us 2 long sides and 2 short ends.

Once we figured that out, we measured out where we wanted to drill pilot holes for the screws in the uprights.

They were all marked the same distances at the top, then the bottoms were marked at 4 feet from the top, which is the height of the chicken wire. This would leave slightly more “leg” at the bottom, if we lined the wire up with the top.

Of course, it didn’t quite turn out as planned. Thankfully, this is not intended to be a permanent structure!

We only drilled pilot holes in the uprights. With the boards all being slightly wonky in size, there was just no way we could measure out where to drill matching pilot holes in the cross pieces.

Oddly, we also don’t have any longer drill bits, which would have allowed us to drill pilot holes through more than one board, so we couldn’t even try drilling pilot holes after putting the boards in position, first.

Then we discovered that not being able to drill pilot holes through the cross pieces meant we couldn’t even use a power drill with screwdriver attachment to screw the pieces together. The wood is hard enough that even our new drill didn’t have enough power to put a screw through on it’s own!

Still, we managed to put them together, with three of us screwing corners together at the same time. 🙂 Here is the first frame assembled.

My thought in orienting the boards this way was that the wire would be attached to the uprights, making it easier to grasp the cross pieces while moving everything around.

Here is all 4 sections, ready to have the wire attached.

With the shorter sections, the wire is now too long, but we figured we could fold it back around the ends on one side, and on the other side, it could be used to wrap around the corner after closing the “door” section.

Unfortunately, the only thing we had to attached the wire to the frames was a staple gun – and not a larger, heavy duty one. It is enough to attach the wire mesh we used to make the new basement cat safe, but it was a bit more difficult on this. For starters, the wood is hard enough, and the staples small enough, that the staples tended to not want to stay at all, never mind hold wire in place. We hoped using enough staples would do the trick, but once we picked it up, most of them just popped right off!

So, my daughters got creative.

They used rope around the top cross pieces to hold the wire in place, making sure to anchor the corners. Then, because it was still wobbly, rope and tent pegs were used to create support.

The whole time we worked on this, we were watched with much curiosity!

Once it was set up and secure, we tried to make it tempting.

There is straw for bedding, the bucket of water, and a container with food in it.

We will just leave it like this for her to get used to, and not try to close her up in it. I am hoping she will use the bedding tonight instead of sleeping on the hard concrete step.

So far, she has gone to sniff at it, but we haven’t seen her actually go in, yet.

I have just been informed, however, that the goat can get up onto the board sheltering the window into the old basement that used to be used to throw firewood into the basement!

While up there, the goat allowed my younger daughter to touch her nose!

None of us have been able to get close enough to touch her until now.

Progress!!

Little by little, with lots of patience, we hope the goat will finally let us near. Then let her owner near her, too. He really, really wants to trim her overgrown hooves!

I hope our goat catcher works. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Stubborn goat, and garden plot progress

Our goat visitor is definitely a stubborn one!

I spent a bit of time sitting on the bench by the door, hoping to get her interested in some pieces of apple. While I was hoping to help the owner with her this morning, my husband helped in a way that he could: doing research on how to catch a runaway goat.

Short answer?

You can’t. 😀

All the reference he found said that you have to get them to come to you, and suggested luring with food such as fruit or raisins.

I’d already tried a carrot, which she ignored, and it was no better with the apple!

Still, I wanted her to get used to the idea of us being around, and maybe getting curious enough to come close. Since she is absolutely attached to our door, I decided to do some work in the future garden plot. I wouldn’t normally be doing something like this on a Sunday, but being out there was needed.

I had the idea that, if the owner came back with one of the tamer goats on a leash, this goat would probably follow it all the way home. It’s not much more than a mile away, and it would be slow going, but I thought it would work better than trying to catch her and put her in a car! I was able to send a note to the owner with the suggestion, but he said he would try coming back after lunch with some chicken wire to try and corral her.

So I got some progress on the garden while I waited for him to come over, and to let the goat get used to me.

The darker area is what I got done today. I won’t go much further than this, as I don’t want to go too close to the elm tree.

There are so many roots in there! I could go back over the same area over and over, and keep finding more roots!

Also, see the little green dot on the left?

That’s our new soil tester.

For some reason, I thought it tested soil temperature, but no, it doesn’t. It tests for moisture, sunlight and pH.

There is a little switch at the bottom for each setting. Moisture and light were not things I was too interested in at the moment, since I’m still digging roots out.

This is what I was really wanting to know, right now.

The pH. The range for that is marked at the bottom, and I can see that it’s at about 7.5

With 7 being neutral, I find it interesting that is goes down to 3.5 on the acidic side, but only up to 8 on the alkaline side. I guess soil is more likely to be acidic than alkaline? I’ve never really thought about it before! 🙂

Anyhow, this will help me know if I need to amend the soil in any way, before I plant in it. I’ll be testing the soil in the old garden area, where the squashes will be planted, later.

When the owner of the goat came back, we used his chicken wire and whatever we could find around the yard, including the saw horses, to hold it up around the front steps. When she went to have some of the food he brought, he tried to close her in, but she ended up plowing through the wire. After that, she figured out what it was and didn’t allow herself to get corralled in there again.

Several times, we just stood off to the side, avoiding looking directly at her, quietly talking and waiting. I ended up telling him about how we were planning to have milk goats in the future, but in the shorter term, were thinking of perhaps borrowing some goats and have them in a moveable paddock to eat our grass in the outer yard, where I can’t mow. He agreed that goats would be very efficient at that! He also gave me some information on what we would need to do to have a milk goat producing; I hadn’t known, for example, that the kids were weaned at 3 months, and that the goat would need to spend some quality time with a ram right away. She would continue to produce while pregnant, then the cycle would start all over again.

I also told him about our trying to tempt her with apple, but that she ignored it. He told me that she’d never had anything but animal feed! At least now, there is grazing available, but she wouldn’t have had even that for long, in the pen she and the other goat were in, with their original owner. It would have been all gone, quickly, and this was not a moveable pen.

After a couple more attempts to corral the goat, he had to leave for the city. I had assured him that we are quite enjoying the goat, and would happily take her if we could (we just aren’t ready to own a goat!), and I think that was a relief for him. No more talk of shooting the goat for meat! He does have the other milk goat with his ram right now, and he’s really like to get this one in, next. We are absolutely okay with her staying in the yard for however long she needs. It’s not good for goats to be alone for too long, though, so for her sake, I am hoping it will be sooner rather than later.

As we were chatting, and he was talking about wanting to breed her, he even brought up the possibility of giving us some kids!

Before he left, leaving the chicken wire behind for us to use, I assured him that he didn’t need to worry about her, and we would keep him up to date on how things went.

What we did, however, will be for another post! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Yes, there’s still a goat at our door

She spent the night sleeping in front of our door, ignoring the shelter I rigged up for her.

Shortly after 7 this morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see a very chilled man in a hoodie, sitting at the front step, very diligently not making direct eye contact with the goat, a container of feed in front of him. Later, I saw him almost manage to lure the goat into the garage.

No success.

Thankfully, we have multiple doors.

I went through the sun room to bring food out for the cats. When it came time to put feed out for the birds, I went around the house from the other side.

The poor guy doesn’t know what to do. He can’t catch her, and he can’t stay around here, trying, when he’s got a farm to run. I assured him again that we were okay with her being here. There is someone here all the time, so we can slowly work on taming her. The only problem is, we don’t have any feed or shelter or anything. He commented that he’s running out of the feed mix he was trying to bait the goat with and, like so many, money is tight. He won’t be able to get more until Wednesday. The goat can at least graze now, if she wanted to. Except she really doesn’t want to leave that door! He said he would come back later, and hoped we would be able to at least lure her into the garage, where he’d left the container of feed, but I think she’s already forgotten about it. As he was leaving, he commented on how he’d really like to get her back (I think our being so okay with her here has ended any notions of killing her for meat!) and had hoped to breed her, and just doesn’t know what to do. Then he made a passing comment of, well, she was a free goat for him, she might be a free goat for us. !!

We shall see.

Meanwhile, I was able to do my morning rounds, followed by not one, not two but three boys!

Yes, I was finally able to confirm that Pump Shack cat is a boy. Not only was he following me around with the other boys, he was coming closer to me than ever before.

They weren’t following me for any sort of affection for each other. Not at all, as you can see.

No, they were following me because Butterscotch was also following me. They’ve been trying to breed with her. 😦 She seems very ticked off with that idea and has been fighting them off fairly easily. She’s less than 2 weeks from having kittens, so I don’t imagine she’s in any condition to go into heat right now. That doesn’t stop the boys from trying!

I noticed something yesterday that I made a point of checking out this morning, and I am very excited.

While following the goats around, I noticed that the surviving haskap bush we planted last year is leafing out very nicely.

This is the male plant. I’m impressed with how large those leaves are. All the other trees are just starting to show buds. I’ve read about how cold hardy these are supposed to be, and it definitely shows!

It was the other one that I was most happy to see.

This is the female haskap. It is very hard to see, but it has leaf buds! Each spot that has the remains of leaves from last year, when it suddenly just died off in the fall, has tiny leaf buds under them.

I don’t know what happened to it, but I am glad it survived!

With this spring actually having real moisture, unlike our first two springs here, the sump pump is doing its work to keep the basement from flooding. It doesn’t turn on often, but enough to notice. While the new part basement, with its weeping tile, is dry, the old part basement is showing some moisture this spring.

This is where wood for the furnace used to be store, and I remember well how very wet it would get, when I was a child. This is very dry in comparison. On the other side of the little wall is the sump pump reservoir, and there is a bit of a puddle there, but again, not much at all. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

On the other side of the old basement, where the floor drain it, is is drier, but still shows signs of seeping water.

Some of it is following the concrete patch over what I now know covers the weeping tile drain pipe from the new basement. There are also patches at the base of the wall shared with the new part basement. I’m glad we were able to clean that area out and elevate the things we put back.

Beep Beep and the kitties, meanwhile, are dry and cozy on the other side. I just wasn’t able to get photos this morning. Beep Beep was keeping them all warm with her own body, and I wasn’t going to disturb them. 🙂

I’m a little frustrated by the long range forecasts right now. Even just yesterday, I was seeing that we would be chilly for a few days, but only a couple nights would dip below zero. Then the temperatures were expected to warm right up again. Well, the forecasts have now changed dramatically. We’re supposed to continue to be chilly for longer, with lower temperatures overall. Even when it is supposed to warm up, it’s no longer expected to warm up as much, and the nights are all expected to dip below freezing. The warm temperatures we were to expect by the middle of the month have been pushed back to the end of the month, with not a lot of sun. Which is not good for our seed starts. Even in the sun room, they will have a hard time getting full sun, and while the room is certainly warmer, I’ve still taken steps to keep them even warmer. I considered moving them back into the house but the house is actually a bit colder than the sun room is. :-/ I even turned the furnace back up a couple of degrees so it would turn on during the night.

Well, we shall see how the seed starts do. If they won’t work out, we’ll manage.

For now, though, we’ll be focusing more on taming a goat! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Finding Goats (video)

I went to check out the goats at our gate after seeing them on the security camera – and they came to check out the weird human with the shiny thing in her hand…

As I write this, it’s 1C (33F), with a “real feel” of -5C (23F). It’s supposed to drop down to a low of -1C (30F) and feel like -7C (19F).

Not only do I have the light we’d used to keep the cats’ water bowl from freezing last year in the mini-greenhouse to keep the planting trays warm, but I just made a shelter for the goat outside our door, using the saw horses and the crochet’s blankets we’d used in the sun room for the cats.

Yes. I made a blanket fort for the goat.

I don’t know if she’ll use it. She is really dedicated to standing at the door.

I think I know why. The person who originally owned her had a pen built up against the house, where there was a side door. When we lived in that building, that door led to what was a shed to store inventory for when the front of the building was a general store. The shed is now here at the farm, being used to store my parents’ old belongings, and there is now a set of stairs under that door. I remember driving by and the only time I ever could see the goats was when one of them was at the top of the stairs, at the door. The set up we have must feel familiar to the goat!

But it is so chilly out there, and she won’t leave the door to go to any of the places around that she could bed down in. I am really hoping she’ll use the shelter I rigged up for her!!

The Re-Farmer

So… there’s a goat outside our door

When I am sitting at my computer, I have an old cell phone we not longer use, near the monitor with a live stream from the security camera on the garage. It’s within my peripheral vision, so I notice when there is unusual movement.

Usually, it’s a car going by, or a cat walking down the driveway. Sometimes, at night, I’ll see deer. Today, I saw my brother’s dog came by for a visit.

Today, I saw some odd movement at the gate.

Several dark shapes.

My first thought was, “dogs.” But why so many? I don’t know anyone in the area with dark coloured dogs, either. Also…

… that’s a really weird shape for dogs.

Those aren’t dogs at all.

Goats.

There’s a herd of goats at the gate!

So, of course, I went to see what was going on.

They saw me coming. Then started following me around like puppies!!

They even seemed to respond to my saying “come on”, and I was able to get them away from the road, where they might get hit by cars.

They were also absolutely fascinated by Creamsicle – and all other cats that made an appearance!

I had no idea who in our area had goats. The person closest to us is my brother, and he doesn’t have goats. All other neighbours are at least a mile away.

So while I was outside, keeping an eye on the goats and making sure they didn’t get into the junk pile, and stopping them from eating the surviving spruce tree my mother planted along the chain like fence, I turned to the wonders of technology!

I posted some pictures on my personal Facebook page, saying that if anyone in our area was missing some goats, they were at our place.

People started sharing it and tagging people. I posted to our renter directly, since they are relatively close and know a lot more people than I do.

When it was time to head into town to get my daughter from work, my other daughter came out to distract them long enough for me to leave, closing the garage and gate behind me. Not that the gate can stop them, since they can just walk through the barbed wire fence, but I didn’t want them following me into the garage or onto the road.

Once in town, I was able to send a text message to one of my neighbour’s down the road that I have a number for. They weren’t hers, and she didn’t know whose they were, but she knew who to ask.

She not only was able to find out who they belonged to, but offered to contact the owner for me to come get them! Meanwhile, I found several comments on my Facebook post, some saying “they’re not mine, mine are all at home!”, but others suggesting they might belong to a person on a certain farm not far from ours. Who turned out to be the same person that was tracked down as the owner!

He was contacted and come over to get them, before my daughter and I even made it home.

Well. Almost all of them.

He only had a car, so he was only able to take them a few at a time. There were only 2 left by the time we got home. He was coming back for the last ones just as we were coming home. In the time it took me to get the van into the garage, he already got one into his car.

The other one had other plans.

We spent probably half an hour trying to catch this goat! Finally, he started talking about coming back with a gun and shooting her.

!!!

I told him it was okay to just leave her. Give her time to calm down, then try again in maybe an hour. We could also come out in a while to try again and hopefully get a rope on her or something. He agreed, and left with the goat that was already in his car. Which is when I noticed he was bleeding from a gash near his ear! One of the goats had got him with a horn. 😦

After leaving the goat alone for a while, I came back out to try and get her used to me being around. My younger daughter joined me.

It… didn’t really work.

She calmed down, all right, but she wouldn’t let us near her. She couldn’t even be tempted with a carrot. 😀

She did, however, really like her own reflection in the window of the front door. She also kept going up the stairs to the door facing the spruce grove.

Unfortunately, it’s been a chilly day, with high winds. We even saw a bit of snow! I ended up getting my parka to stay warm.

One of the things we noticed was the goat’s hooves. They were badly overgrown and in need of a trim.

When the owner came back and we tried again, we failed. He even brought treats he knew she liked, but it was not enough.

As we tried to give her time to calm down, I learned more about her. It turns out, she was one of two goats among the seven that are basically wild. They had been living with someone in the “downtown” of our little hamlet, which turned out to be against bylaws, so this guy took them in. The previous owner had not done anything to get them used to humans. The other goats were expensive meat goats, but these two are milk goats, and because they are so wild, he has not been able to catch them to trim their hooves, or even bring them to a ram. They’re only a year old and have not been bred yet. They have also been the cause of all sorts of problems for him, because of their wildness.

This one goat is the wilder of two, and we simply could not catch her. The poor guy felt so bad about inconveniencing us so much, and he started once again talking about shooting her for the freezer, but I told him we were okay with her staying. In fact, after he’d left and I told my daughters what he’d said, I added that were an issue, I’d offer to buy her! It didn’t come to that. We will see how she does. She might end up spending the night. He talked of bringing some feed over, and while we don’t have any shelter she can use, other that possibly one side of the garage (since my mother’s car isn’t in there right now, as it’s still sitting at the garage in town, waiting to be checked), but there’s still stuff the goat could get into. Including where our van is parked. However, there is also the straw bale in the old garden she could use as bedding, or even the straw still around the old dog houses. I even left the back door into the garage open, in case she wanted to get out of the wind – even the goat was shivering from the cold!

So, that’s where we are at now. The goat is still here, and we will see if we can reach her somehow.

For now, however, she is simply standing at the front door, occasionally butting it with her head, and staring at her own reflection!

My mother phoned while we were outside. I called her back when I could and told her about the goats. She was so thrilled to hear about them, and wished she could see them. When I told her that one couldn’t be caught, she was telling us we should keep it! If we could talk to the owner about selling it to us or something.

Now, we’ve talked about getting a milk goat, but we are not ready for one now! We have no shelter, no paddocks, no tools to trim hooves, no anything!

And yet, if it comes down to it, we’re all pretty much in agreement. Rather than let her get shot, we’ll make an offer for it. And maybe he’ll be willing to teach us how to care for goats in the process! 😀

What an unusual day this turned out to be!! 😀

The Re-Farmer