The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bringing home our first goat

Bringing a goat home

We brought home our first goat Tuesday!  We're planning on getting a second goat this week (who's all picked out --- more on her later), but for the day, goat #1 got to be an only child.  She also appears to be nameless --- we're taking suggestions if you can think of just the right appellation for our farm's first caprine resident.

Dragging a goat

Names aside, goat #1 wasn't entirely thrilled at spending two hours winding down country roads in the backseat of our car, but she only bleated a few times.  Once we disembarked, though, the struggles began.  As total neophytes to goat wrangling, we hadn't considered the species' extreme aversion to water, so we chose to bring home goat #1 on a day when the creek was about knee high and the floodplain was one big mass of puddles.  Our nanny was just starting to get the hang of walking on a leash when we came to the first body of water...and then she decided that being dragged was superior to walking.  I ended up carrying the poor (and heavy) beast about halfway up the floodplain, stopping to drag and cajole her through drier spots, and the goat and I were both pretty tuckered out by the time we got home.

Goat creek crossing

Poor Mark had just driven for two hours in heavy rain with goat horns jabbing him in the back of the head, so he wasn't much better off.  Still, he managed to leash Lucy and take her for a walk, then to introduce our obedient dog to the new goat with no major trauma on either side.  We'll do a more serious training session later, but I'm about 75% sure our smart farm dog got the message --- goats are to be protected, not chased.  (Rolling in their manure, though, is definitely high on Lucy's list.)

Mini SaanenBefore shutting our new nanny away in the starplate coop for her much-deserved rest, I let her browse some oat cover crops (which she probably would have eaten all day if I'd let her, but I started getting worried about bloat even though that probably wouldn't be a problem at this time of year).  A few feet further down the trail (with the goat walking nicely now that we were out of the marsh), she found a fenceline covered with Japanese honeysuckle and began to chow down --- or, rather, to daintily pick the leaves off the stems, proving that she may be a goat, but that she's also a lady.

Once our nanny saw the dry straw inside the coop, though, all thoughts of food were forgotten.  I brought Unnamed Goat some stalks from sweet corn, sorghum, and sunflowers to tide her over until morning, then shut her in so she could begin learning her new home.

My conclusions so far?  Goats --- even ones with long horns --- are extremely gentle even when manhandled.  And their ability to eat the weeds is very satisfactory.  Only time will tell how well we work the species into our farm, but I'm excited to begin to learn the ways of goats.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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She looks so tiny and delicate in the faraway pictures, and since you've noted how ladylike and dainty she seems, I'd say she needs a name that matches. I vote for Violet.
Comment by Rachael Wed Oct 8 07:58:34 2014

So happy for y'all. And for her. You all will make good goat Maaaaamaaa's.


Comment by Maggie Wed Oct 8 08:22:24 2014


I have been wanting goats for a long time. Now I can really learn from you what its like to have a goat. She likes honeysuckle. So I vote for Honeysuckle as her name.

Can't wait to read more on your new goat adventure.!!!!!

Also i wanted to know: Have you gotten any mushrooms off your logs yet this fall?

Comment by Donna Wed Oct 8 09:30:54 2014
Yay! I'm really looking forward to hearing more about the goat!
Comment by Stephen Wed Oct 8 09:42:52 2014

Just kidding, but congrats on the new goat! Yep, they do hate water. I hadn't thought of that, but it would be tough to get them over the creek. My goats have a very small creek- only about 4 feet across- to cross over on the way to their pasture, but it is a struggle to get them across the 4"x16"x6' slab I used to bridge it. I can't imagine trying to get them over a river. Maybe a moat would be better than a fence for keeping them in?

It is weird, but the goats have absolutely no fear of heights- they will walk out on a log with a 20 foot drop below it- if it is dry. But even a trickle of water in the gully and they will turn around regardless of how green the grass is (or how delicious the high density apple plantings are) on the other side.

Best of luck! (and no matter how much I warn against them, I do love my goats, and think you will enjoy yours!)

Comment by Eric in Japan Wed Oct 8 10:39:16 2014
It's all sounds like so much fun. I will be following to live vicariously.
Comment by Kathleen Wed Oct 8 11:26:10 2014

Pippi--a heroine, and scrawny-looking (ot Pippa, tho she features in "The year's at the spring...")

Honey (because she likes honeysuckle)

Eliza (from My Fair Lady)

Toots (or Hey Girl!)

Comment by adrianne Wed Oct 8 11:59:26 2014
you have two weedcutters now? ;-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Oct 8 15:11:23 2014
This is very exciting. Really looking forward to reading all about your goat raising and wrangling experiences. I'm sure you'll have many opportunities to share the ups and downs of keeping goats in your usual entertaining and educational way. Hooray :) I'm assuming this is a milking goat and there will be cheese making and maybe some soap making?
Comment by Kate Wed Oct 8 17:23:56 2014

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and name suggestions! Name to be announced tomorrow, and, yes, this goat will be a milker come spring.

Donna --- Unfortunately, the shiitakes we most recently inoculated appear to be duds and our oyster logs are finally starting to peter out. We need to get more serious about inoculating new logs this winter!

Comment by anna Wed Oct 8 19:42:33 2014

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