I do remember my grandmother having goats as a kid. I remember him milking the nanny but that was about it. When we first bought this farm we wanted a lot of animals. But as the budget person for the household all the animals had to somehow pay for themselves meaning grain, hay and medical supplies. I put the ad in the classifieds that we were looking for free farm animals. A few weeks went by and a call from here in town asking if we had the ad. Yes we did why?
This elderly lady had a goat that wave birth the night before, the first one she crushed, the second was normal and the third had a problem with its leg. The mother was suffering from mastitis which is an infection of her udder and would not let the babies nurse. They could not keep up with the nightly feedings and wanted to know if I could take them. My daughter and I walked the 1/4 mile to there house in late March. Most likely she would be the one to take care of this animal so I had her tag along. I was a little nervous about it since I hate to take on someone else's problems but when I saw the babies what else could I do ?? They were so small and cute. The mother was an Alpine goat named Ida with her white and tan markings. My daughter held both of the babies. I knew we could not leave them. We decided to take them but we had no way to transport them to our house, my husband usually took the only vehicle we had to work and was gone all week. We knew we could not walk it with the goats since the mother was still weak from the night before. The elderly couple decided to bring her and the babies to our house in their car. They also supplied some grain and hay. We had one stall to put them in and we had to take care of Ida's udder problem first.
After when we were put ran some warm water, the two older kids held Ida against the wall while I submerged her udders in the warm water. We did that for about 10 minutes and then I gently started working each teat until they were half empty. We fed the milk to the two babies Sadie and Sara.
When I called my husband to tell him the wonderful new addition to our farm, he was not happy. The only stall we had was the one in his workshop. Now he had to take a vacation to build a new stall, milking stand, and a fenced in area.
Sara was the goat with the legs problems and she appeared fine for a couple of days. Then both of them started to have dirrhea and was covered in it. We had to bathe both of them. Sara was not able to get up anymore. She was still eating OK but she would just lie there and bleat. The next day we called the traveling Vet and we had to meet him in a store parking lot for shots of Antibiotic and Selenium. It may help but if she is not better in a few days call me he said. After 2 days she was having seizures, bleating constantly and could not eat. The kids were home that week of spring vacation. We had Sara in the house but then the bleating got worse. While the rest of us were in bed my husband went out in the barn and put her down. She was in so much pain we had no choice. So he put the body in his workshop where no one would look for it. He wanted to explain to the kids what happened instead of them finding it dead. Well the kids got up 10 minutes before us and went looking for Sara, when we got up we found all the kids in the dining room crying. They found her, they were afraid that she had gotten loose so they went looking for her.
Then we had to explain that she was not well and there was not anything that we could do for her. Plus a goat has hooves and there was not anyway she could have unbolted the lock and turn the doorknob to get out side.
My husband dug the grave and we had a little ceremony for Sara with a few spring flowers. It was hard for all of us. We had all taken turns feeding, washing and playing with the baby goats. It is sad after hardly a week of life it ended so soon.
Soon the milking stand was finished, no more 45 minutes fighting with milking Ida. And I do mean fighting; She kicked, went to the bathroom, and stepped or knocked over the bucket. She was the biggest jerk you could imagine a goat could be. Ida would not let her kids nurse either without restrained. Now we hooked her up in the milking stand and put Sadie underneath and let her drink her fill. It took all of 5 minutes and it was done. Vacation ended and we all happily watched Sadie grow. It was June when we started to think of breeding for Ida and Sadie. We had tried selling them both with the milking stand but no calls. So we started to tether them out to eat grass. One day we left the house to help a neighbor for a few minutes and came home to find that Ida had wrapped the tether around Sadie and killed her. We were gone 10 minutes. It was even sadder then losing Sara. Sadie used to run free out in the yard with the kids and head butt us and try to nibble our hair. Now she was gone. Ida had always been a pain in the butt and I didnt want her on our farm anymore. I told my husband to either shoot her or find her a new home now. My oldest son started the grave next to Sara and my daughter and I lifted Sadie into the wheelbarrow to take her to the grave. My husband went to the people that originally wave us us and asked them to take her back. They did, Thank God because I was sick of digging holes.
We did not think too much about goats for a while until we received a call from a woman in Buckfield wanting us to take 2 of her Pygmy goats. I was a little leery. We tried goats and I was not sure I wanted to do it again. They also had some chickens that they wanted to get rid of too. My husband and I went to look at the animals. We both knew we needed more hens because we were selling out of eggs daily. The goats were no bigger then small dogs. They did not measure more than 2 feet tall. They were cute and my daughter really wanted to try again with goats. We ended up with 2 goats and 20 chickens.
Then the same week we had another call for 2 more Pygmy's in Monmouth, my daughter and I went to pick them up too. Well now we had 2 wethered males and 2 girls, now we needed a male to breed with. We looked around and the only Pygmy male that was around here was named Forest Gump. We should have known by the name that he was not too smart. We had a little group of dogs and everything seemed pretty until they all started to eat the wood on the barn. So we painted it to deter them from eating the wood. They were lapping it off as fast as we could paint it. My husband was so angry, "he's not building a new barn if they ruin it" he said. Well what to do ?? That's when we got the call for the sheep. Now I knew my husband was going to make me choose and right now sheep were the answer. I put the ad in the classifieds for the goats and woman from Brewer called and wanted the whole bunch !! She showed up the next day with her mini van and her 5 kids. We had to separate Forest from the rest after he rammed my daughter in the shins. So we showed Forest first. I opened the door and told Forest to get in his box. He jumped in and she looked him over. We left that stall and one of her kids left the door open and out runs Forest. Now he is in the bramble bushhes trying to get into the pen with the girls. I ended getting rammed in the shins before my husband talked him. The lady opened up her back hatch to her van my husband lifted him in and asked her if that's how she wanted him in there ??
Yes she said.
You're not going to tie him down? He asked
No, just put him in, she said.
OK and my husband shut the hatch and then we watched Forest jump the 2 back seats to the front of the van and shatter her windshield. My husband got some rope and secured Forest and the others. Her kids were muttering Dad is going to be mad. Well she got her checkbook out to pay us my husband looked at me and I nodded my head. I knew what he was thinking and I felt the same way. My husband told her no charge. She asked if he was sure. Yes, your husband is going to be mad enough about the windshield. She was really happy and relieved. That was the end of goats for us for almost 2 years. My daughter really loved baby goats and wanted to try again. It would be hard to convince my husband to try it again. My daughter and I thought about it and figured a way around it.
My daughter has always been an industrious girl. She never shrigged her responsibilities and has done anything that is asked of her without complaint. So we looked into a youth loan with the USDA. My husband was not paying anything out for animals he did not like so there was our solution. We had to figure out feed, bedding, vet costs and how we were going to market the animals to pay off the loan. But she wanted to do more so we figure on 5 goats (3 female and 2 male) and 5 sheep (3 female, 1 male, and 1 wether) and she wanted to also do a lawn mower business. So together we surfed the web looking for animals to purchase. Registered animals really are not worth it for people in our area. We emailed a lot of farms for information, calling on grain prices, and searching classifieds for market pricing for the animals.
I noticed my oldest son Philip was feeling left out. Now I love my children dear but he was never meant to be a farmer. He does not like to get dirty, work up a sweat, or do manual labor. But he does like the idea of money. I talked it over with him and explained the facts that I listed and he said he still wanted to do it. Fine but I do not want to hear any complaints about your chores. So again we looked up prices and animals. He decided to do pigs, turkeys, and broiler chickens. We figured how long we would keep his animals since they were temporary and by the end of the year he would have done with his animals.
So together Sydney and Philip took out a loan. Now I did have my doubts not for Sydney because I knew she really wanted this more than anything but Philip I still had my doubts. Soon animals were delivered and picked up. Philip had to dig a 2 foot trench for the pig pen. Of course anywhere we would choose the pen to be it would be a rock filled nightmare to dig. The area near the corner of the barn was the chosen spot and it was a miserable mess of stumps and rocks. The days were hot and Philip must have taken about a hundred Popsicle breaks and then would go to his room. Now I would look at the area that was only a f foot deep. Then go back inside ask him what the problem was, "It's too hard" he said.
"I know but you still have to do it. We do not want them to break out of the pen because it is no fun trying to catch piglets. You might as well throw your loan money away because you lost your animals." I said.
Well that cave has enough incentive to try again. I had several more times I had to remind him. Then Sydney and I had to help to finish the project. Then my husband made the pen out of pallets. Half in the trench and made a shelter and a door. Finally the pigs can be moved into the outside pen and the goats can have there pen back. Again I had to still check on his animals and remember him to fill there feeders and waterers.
Unfortunately Philip did not really listen on how the loan would work out. It was a 7 year loan. The first year would be paying for new equipment and take what little profit you made you would reinvest in more animals for the next year and you would make a bigger profit until the loan was paid. Philip thought big money the first year and that was it. Boy was he disappointed when that did not happen. He was also disappointed when I would not let him hold the money because it had to go towards the loan and he was not going to buy a bunch of crap before the loan payment.
So here we were with 3 female goats and 2 baby males; Duey and her son Fred, Bridgett and her son Bricken and the virgin Carly. We figured we were not going to worry about milking the first year and we could cross breed Duey and Bridgett with each others sons. If the sons after breeding did not sell then they would go in the freezer. The boys were Bo Boer crosses so they would end up being big. The woman that sold us the goats was a person that worked with her animals. They were friendly and listened for names names to be called. We decided that we would walk them out to the field out back for grazing and would tether all the girls and let the boys roam free. Now we did have a problem with this before so for an hour or two someone would sit out there with them to make sure nothing happened. Well that year the wild strawberries were as big as raspberries so we all spend our time picking berries and watching the goats. We would leave a sign on the door for customers to beep there horn if they needed us. The first couple of times nothing interesting happened; We took them outback and came back after grazing. The next time Carly decided she had enough and broke her collar and started running toward the house, well the boys joined her and the mothers had to chase there sons. They dropped out there tethers. Luckily they all ran to the barn door and waited for us to show up. Well Carly was punished by having to stay in the barn while the others went back out. She broke 2 collars. She was an energetic teenager and nothing would keep her contained. The next time I went to get grain I saw a dog harness and I bought the one for a large dog. What a time I had trying to get that thing on her. But once it was on it was not coming off. Now we were the happy little goat herders with no problems. We ended up picking over 15 quarts of wild strawberries and after they went by one of the fields were full of wild Maine blueberries. We picked those by hand, it was easier and there was no clean up afterwards. We picked over 20 quarts of the blueberries. Sydney brushed them everyday; The boys were never aggressive unless you had grain.
Unfortunately Fred when we received him at one week old got into the habit of jumping on you. Sydney thought it was cute when he weighed 10lbs. I tried to explain to her later on she might not think it was cute and she should put a stop to it now. Well she did not, Fred was the baby and she let him do it when ever. The day came weighing over 90lbs it was not funny anymore and she realized I was right.
Fred also had a bad habit of sticking his head through the fence and it was not a problem when he had no horns but once he grew them, then our problem began. Bricken got stuck 3 times and learned his lesson. Fred on the other hand would literally get stuck 30 times a day and scream his head off. Then he would push against you every time you would try to free his head. No sooner your back was turned he would do it again and his screaming sounded like a woman in distress. Now he had to be locked up inside. Well we might as well separate the boys from the girls, that way Fred is not alone and is not breeding and the 2 boys needed to be weaned from there mothers. Since they were Boer crosses they were bigger than there mothers and was practically lying on the ground to get a drink. We decided on them getting ready for breeding the best thing to do is a separation. The boys have never been away from their mothers. Fred dragged his feet the entire distance to the next stop, Bricken flat out laid on the floor and we dropped him to the pen. Those 2 boys screamed bloody murder for 24 hours straight until they lost their voices completely. It did not help that the mothers would jump up on the outside to look into the window and get them stirred up. Well fall came and the goats ripped up the fencing and we had goats and sheep running all over the field. I happened to be at a neighbor's house helping them move and I get a call from my husband on the animals. Philip decided he would help round them up by closing the only door on the outside and shaking the grain inside the barn. You guessed it he netted no animals.
Once the door was open and shake the grain they all came running. It took over a month to fix the fencing and make a larger pen too. Once they were all let out we decided to bring the boys back into circulation and they were all bred and the 2 boys had to go to the butcher. So I guess goats worked out for us eventually.