I purchased 900 pounds of meadow and pasture grass seed this past fall as we had more dirt than anything growing. The soil was in pretty bad shape from being over grazed and untended, a silt that lacked any integrity at all, and in dire need of something nourishing and protective.
It actually wasn’t too weedy, which is good, but truly more brown than green.
With our ducks cruising the back pasture and fertilizing everything, and the grasses bursting up this spring, well gorgeous, amazing, and bountiful looking.
Now to bring over some ‘eaters’ to knock it back a bit, but not all the way to the ground.
My friend Barb has lots of Icelandic sheep, goats, and a guard yak, offered to let me borrow three baby goats, kids, for the entire summer. This sounded like a great plan!
A brother-sister pair and a single female, all born on February 4th, so about five months old when they arrived. None were weened, and the male was a buck.
I went over to the ranch, loaded them in my car, they hunkered down and slept all the way home, and then when we got here, they went into their pen and cried and cried and cried.
So we all went in there and sat with them, touched the ones that wanted to be touched, brushed the one that wanted to be brushed, and fed them grain by hand.
We did this for about 4-5 days before they looked forward to seeing us and wanted us near them.
We opened the pen gate and let them out into the pasture, watched, observed, stayed with them as they still seemed uncertain without their mom around, and then noticed that they not only weren’t eating any grass, they were actually avoiding it.
A flower here and there, weed tops, broad leaf anything, and then … oh wait a fruit orchard! All three within a nano-second made a beeline for the orchard and just started to rip the leaves off of every branch at an alarming rate.
So we learned, if we wanted to keep anything it must have a very large palette fence around it.
The buck we had to send back to the ranch, he was difficult, shy, and pushy with fencing, even electric net. Gorgeous male but I was not set up to have a buck, and I only saw frustration in my future.
Once he was gone the two females really settled in and started to want to be with us, bonding was happening, finally.
I used my dogs harnesses and puppy collars and started to take them for evening walks, and mowed some trails in the back pasture to practice trail work.
Then it dawned on me that I might really like to have pack goats. Since they weren’t likely going to eat my whole pasture down like I had intended, I would train them to be pack goats.
Training is training and this made sense in my brain.
I paid my friend $100 for each goat, and quickly named them Sunny and Charlie, my Nubian Goaty Goat Girls!
I love them, I love when they call for me, I love that they like to hang out with the Ladies of the Quack Shack, and I love their playfulness and scampiness.
What I am noticing is that they catch on to vocabulary very quickly, quicker than a dog for sure. They learned their names and coming to us and follow us in one day. They know HUP, to get up on something, and my son is teaching them tricks.
I hope to go on a remote trail in the next few weeks and for sure some creek crossings. My son is truly enjoying the Goaty Goat Girls and taking them on little outings and working with them as well. He hopes to have back country partners for his longer trips.
I am familiar and fluent when working with predators, like canines. Owning and working with prey animals is very different for me and I am loving the challenges and adventures so far!
psst – and I am a proud new member of the NORTH AMERICAN PACK GOAT ASSOCIATION … Woop!