Mowing the lawn with goats
The great thing about
only having 2.5 goats is that it's possible to use our tiny herd to mow
the lawn in areas where more goats would cause more trouble. As you can
see, our grass is starting to green up in the sunniest part of the yard,
even though the pastures around our starplate coop are still nearly
entirely winter brown. Usually, Mark pulls out the power mower around
this time of year to cut back the newly growing grass, but I decided to
take another stab at tethering our goats to see how much mowing they
would do for us.
When I last tried tethered, Artemesia didn't really need to be tied since she
was more interested in clinging to Abigail's side than getting into
trouble. Now, both does require tethering, and I plan their lines so they can barely meet in the middle. This way Abigail doesn't
get terrified of having her herd-mate out of sight, but the two animals
also can't get tangled in each others' tether ropes. I still don't
leave our herd unsupervised since there's just too much
that could go wrong with tethering goats, but the ropes do mean that I
can walk over to the wringer washer and do a load of laundry while our
goats chow down.
Of course, Abigail has
other things on her mind --- like making milk! We're still only getting
about 1.25 cups of milk per day, despite shutting Lamb Chop away from his mother overnight. I'm pretty sure our doe holds back quite a bit of milk for her kid in the morning because she's got
to be feeding him a whole lot more than a cup of milk per day. After
all, Lamb Chop is still only nibbling at solid food, but he's managing
to put on nearly a pound a day in weight gain. I'll be very curious to
see what milk production is like once our kid is weaned to entirely
eating dry food.
The downside of Lamb Chop
growing so fast is that I can tell tethering is going to become
problematic in the near future. I tried to tie our buckling along with
his herdmates, but he bounces and runs so fast that I was afraid he
would break his little neck. Oh well --- even though it seems like
there's a huge amount of grass and rye to mow down at the edges of the
garden, at the rate Abigail is going, we'll have to move the herd out
beyond our core perimeter by the end of the week.
One thing I've noticed is
how very malleable our goats are, making them the easiest animals I've
ever had the pleasure of training. Abigail and Artemesia both know
they're not allowed to eat kale, strawberries, and other garden goodies.
Of course, knowing
that only means that when I walk our goats on a leash beside garden
plants, the does don't reach out and nab a snack. Turn my back, and
there wouldn't be any kale left, so I'm careful to tether where anything
I love is well out of reach. Abigail is right at the end of her rope in
the photo above.
Finally, I wanted to
mention Artemesia's newly scruffy fur, which I suspect is due to some
combination of shedding her winter underfur, having a huge buckling
crawl all over her back on a regular basis, and me running low on kelp. Since the supplier I ordered from took a few weeks to ship, I had to take away our free-choice kelp to ensure that our lactating doe could continue to get enough of the mineral supplement on her daily ration. Of course, there are
minerals of a non-biological nature available to our goats all the
time, but neither doe will touch the stuff. In fact, when I made the
mistake of trying to trick Abigail into eating some extra minerals by
pouring the powder on top of her morning ration, she tipped the whole
bowl over to get those minerals out! Good thing more kelp arrived in the
mail Monday so that Artemesia can get back to her usual shiny self.
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