We’ve added the first non-feline animals to our little homestead. These two little half sisters are Nigerian Dwarf goats. We’ve had them for over two weeks now, but they just now are officially named. Naming in our house usually goes like this. For days or weeks I and the kids start throwing out all sorts of ideas for names. An apparently uninterested John silently listens. Only because I know him so well, do I know that he will have his say eventually. And eventually he does. One day he will say: “What about . . . ” and I love it, and that is the name. Interestingly enough, this is exactly how our children were named as well.
And so, Ada and Bea were named. Ada is the older and more white one. She will be registered in Elise’s name. Elise has put in lots of hours working at taming the goats, who came to us straight out of a field and were not in the least bit interested in human attention beyond feeding and watering. But taking advantage of their love of food, we were able to slowly get them used to being around us and eventually to be touched by us.
We haven’t finished fencing their field yet, and because John’s back decided to go out last week, it will probably be awhile before we do. So for now they are living in a small pen in our yard. They’d grazed it down to the ground, so we supplement their diet with goat ration and alfalfa hay. And each day we take them out once or twice and tie them out in our yard where they eagerly attack our weeds. Those who say that goats will eat anything, didn’t actually ever own a goat. Goats are actually quite picky eaters. They do love alfalfa hay and oddly enough dried leaves are like candy to them. Instead of going towards the greenest and best of the grass in the yard, they seek out the tiny little dry looking weeds, which they tend to pull out by the roots. I figure eventually I’ll be left with nice healthy grass throughout the yard.
Taking the goats out on a lead has greatly sped up their taming process. But it took us awhile to figure out how to do it without risking losing the goats entirely. We had bought the cutest little goat halters at Tractor Supply, but as soon as we held them up to the goats’ heads, which are small enough to fit through the 4 inch by 4 inch holes in their fencing, we realized they’ll probably never be large enough to fit the halters. We looked at the little dog collars we had bought, but those also were way too large and we weren’t sure how to make sure they’d keep them on even if we did tighten them up. What ended up working were dog harnesses. They don’t fit perfectly, but well enough that I don’t worry about the goats slipping out of them and I they don’t seem to press on their throats or stomach when they pull hard.
Though they run when they see me coming with the harnesses, once I do get ahold of them, they stand pretty still without bleating while I get them hooked up. Then they eagerly take off because they know wherever we take them there will be tasty treats and/or fun things to climb on. Today I took them around to what is one of their favorite places. They seemed to light up when they saw where we were going and instead of hurrying to eat, they jumped up on the rock stairs to our front door and stood on their own personal mountain with apparent excitement.
Our plan is to hopefully welcome little goat kids late next year (these ones are still babies themselves) and fresh goat milk.