My whole life I have had the inexplicable desire for a goat. I don’t know why, except that they are awfully cute and I have heard, are brighter and more like pets than other farm animals. So when we moved to our little homestead property, I promptly purchased The Backyard Goat: An Introductory Guide to Keeping Productive Pet Goats. There are so many breeds of goats and each with their own distinct purpose, from meat to dairy to fiber to transportation (pack goats), that I wasn’t really sure what breed would best suit us. But I did discover almost immediately that we did not want a buck (an un-altered male).
Bucks don’t make good pets or working goats. “
In all honesty, after reading The Backyard Goat cover-to-cover, I cooled on my goat plan a bit. They seemed (even aside from bucks), perhaps, more high maintenance than we were up for, and we were busy with baby chicks and cows about to give birth and planting a large garden, etc. I shelved the idea for several months. And then after our calves were safely delivered, I breathed a sigh of relief… and I got a bee in my bonnet: I wanted a goat!! I searched Craigslist everyday. I read blog articles and informational websites to discover a breed that would be suitable for our family. I settled on the Nigerian Dwarf breed for a few reasons. First, they are completely adorable. Second, their smaller stature make them easier to manage and less expensive to feed. Third, if I ever want to pursue my dream of a home dairy, Nigerians are the ideal choice. Fourth, they can be bred anytime of year and usually birth 3-4 kids which can be sold for at least a couple hundred dollars each.
I found a lady on Craigslist about 20 minutes from us, selling off a large assortment of Nigerian Dwarf wethers (castrated males), doelings (females who have not been bred) and kids. For about three weeks I watched her change her CL ad to reflect her dwindling inventory. By the time Caleb consented (over a peaceful Friday night dinner and glass of wine, sans children) and we landed at her farm the next day, she only had one kid and a few doelings to choose from. She informed us that it really was not an option to only take one because they are herd creatures and absolutely need companionship. Cows can occasionally stand in, but really, they need another goat. We decided to take her one remaining kid, a scrumptious 3-month old black and white female with blue eyes (we paid a premium for this trait, as it is supposedly quite desirable) and a beautiful auburn and white year-old doeling. We opted to pay extra to have them papered so that if we decide to breed them, we can in-turn charge more for the kids because we have proof of their purebred blood lines. So without further ado, let me introduce you to Elinor and Marianne (named after the Dashwood sisters in Sense and Sensibility):
How much cuteness can one picture hold???
We really did not prepare for them in advance. Their owner fed them oats twice a day so I scrounged up some breakfast oats from my pantry. We boarded them in a barn stall. As we looked around for a water container, we noticed a bucket attached to the wall. This property was a goat farm, and not just a regular goat farm, but a dwarf goat farm, so we are actually totally set up for dwarf goats in ways that we did not even realize. The barn has little doors cut into the stalls to allow goats to come and go freely. Each stall has water and feeding troughs at just the proper height for dwarf goats. The fencing around our 3 acres of pasture is specifically designed to keep small (naughty) goats in. This is what we were designed for!
To be continued…