Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lessons learned

Chickens are easy.  Give 'em a place to roost, a place to lay eggs, a coop and a fenced run and you're good to go.  Some bedding and some grain and some water and a bucket of kitchen scraps and they're happy.  Sure, occasionally you have to deal with a resident o'pposum, or a raccoon/fox/mink/neighbor's dog attack, but once you've made your coop and fence stalag-tight, those problems become fewer and fewer.  We haven't lost a hen in eight months now.  Knock on wood.

Goats, however, are not easy.  At least not angora goats.  You have to deworm them.  Often.  And not just for one type of worm--for several.  You have to delouse them.  Often.  During the summer you have to go out at least four times a week and rescue some dumb beast who's gotten its head stuck in the fence.  You have to trim their hooves, which is sorta like trimming the toenails of a small, angry, kicking caribou.  You have to shear them twice a year.  Which, because I am not a professional shearer with professional shears,  takes me about an hour and a half--for each goat--and consists of lots of swearing, sweating, threats, back pain, numb fingers, and more swearing.

And unless you have a pristine grassy meadow for them to graze in, their fleece won't be worth a dime because it's full of sticks and burrs and seedheads.  Even in winter (see above).  Because unless you are feeding them fine grass hay, whatever prickly stuff that is in their feed will get in their fleece.  Some people compensate by buying or sewing goat coats and keeping them on all year round.  From my experience with chicken saddles (long story), livestock and clothing really don't work out too well.  Besides, if I wanted my animals to wear clothes I would have bought a herd of Scottish Terriers.

I could handle most of this, I think, if I got a bit of love in return.  Alas, however, my goats have no love for me.  They won't let me pet them or hug them or rub their bellies.  At best they will let me pat their backs with one hand if I feed them treats with the other.  As soon as the treats are gone, they are too.

Sigh.  As of now the goats are big, furry, high maintenance, unloving pets.  If I had grassy pastures, and access to better shearing, and better fencing, and more time to spend with them, things might be different.  Mohair and baby goats can be quite a lucrative business.  And I've got good animals here, with good mohair and bloodlines.  But I just don't have the time or the resources to make it pay off.

Sigh.  I never should have let the boys name the kids.  If we do decide to sell them, it will make it all the more difficult.


Carolyn said...

We are going through some of the same "thinking" around here. Money is tight (and may be getting even tighter in the next few weeks) so I really have to think about the animals. Do I REALLY need three milking does, especially when one is a total bi#&*, do we really need a mule and a mini-horse that we can't ride, and the mini is a JERK. Maybe we'll learn some day very soon. The chickens are staying though; meat, eggs and entertainment for the little time we spend on them each day.

Hope you can sort out your animal troubles.

Bob said...

What does baby goat taste like? Might be worth investigating?


Rea said...

I think we all get trap into animals once in awhile. I was offered a jenny donkey last year and I jump for her. Problem was she came with 6 guineas. Those I don't like so much. They're loud, they poop on our cars, and they don't eat what I grow so I have to buy expensive food in the wintr for them.

I was told they are good watch dogs but if they are screaming all the time how do I know if this time there is something out there or if they are just screaming at a blowing leaf (they really do that). I'm starting to wonder if they taste like chicken.

Ladytats said...

having to get rid of through what ever means an animal the kids have named can be hard, but in the long run they learn good lessons. just ask my kids about all the calves they named, and that either got sold, or we ate. but while they can remember the good times, they don't stress out about the loss so much.
tell Rea Guinees do taste like a bird. you can eat them, we used to at my grandmothers. I did like them in my yard, they do let you know something is moving, wither truck or animal. I would like to get some back, but until the eagles move out, there is no way. they took the wild turkeys right out of our trees. so even the turkeys are gone now. no bird flocks here for several years.

Karen said...

Time for those goats to go, Jo...! Hey, that rhymes! Trade them in for a cow or a couple of horses (my preference!)! Both will give you either milk, meat, or love, exercize right back!!! If you need to trim corners for financial reasons, the goats should be top of the list!!!

Kathy said...

Yup... I agree with the other commenters. Goats need to go if they're not fun, lovey or productive. You don't owe them anything. Being the compassionate woman that you are, I won't even suggest eating them, though I hear goat is tasty...... ;-)

Jo said...

Yep, I am coming to the same realization. Part of the issue is that I'm not really sure HOW to get rid of them. They aren't worth anything for meat, and I don't know anyone around here who would be interested. Like I said, they are good animals, but rather exotic. I'll probably start with an ad in the paper, maybe craigslist. I'm willing to sell cheap, so that may help.

Maybe we'll keep one or two, just for the weeds ... :)