Getting Ready for Goats

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#truth

#truth

If I had to pick a spirit animal, I'm pretty sure it would be goats. Energetic, playful, eats everything except the things they're supposed to. We're going to be a great match. Goats are a relatively new obsession of mine. I've always loved cute baby goat pictures (who doesn't?!), but it was Weed 'Em & Reap's blog that instilled my NEED for them. Fun fact, her blog was the one I stumbled upon summer of 2016 when we were in Ohio and I was not so subtly telling Jared I was ready to move and start a hobby farm. Yeah, this is the scene I mention during the podcast interview. Now you can imagine me turning my laptop around with DaNelle on my screen holding one of her goaties and an article about how her dramatic goat gave birth, or the time they used a breast pump to milk them. I spent a lot of time over the next few months laughing at her antics and goats. I was shocked when I realized her urban farm was just 15 minutes from our place in Phoenix. I did some research right then to see if we could purchase an acre or two in the city and not move across the country, but quickly realized we couldn't. Phoenix's housing market boomed again, and with the rise in urban farming's popularity pushed home lots with an acre or more out of our budget.

I have zero regrets about leaving Phoenix. I miss my friends, but the seasons, country roads, and open space make my heart sing. Baby goaties are going to bring me even more joy.   

I had always pictured a huge garden, chickens, a cow, maybe a few pigs, but it wasn't until last year I added goats to the list. Goats totally make sense as a milking animal for the smaller farm. Per a pound of feed they produce more milk than a cow and are easier to care for. Until recently I had never even had goats milk or held a goat. Petting them through a fence and feeding them pellets out of a vending machine at a tourist attraction doesn't count. So what does one do when they've decided through pictures and funny blog posts they NEED goats? 

Well, I don't know what a normal person does, but here's what I did.

Figure out if you REALLY want goats.

Read all the goat blogs and follow their social media. Nothing brightens my day more than the photos from Goats of Anarchy's Instagram, or reading an article about goatie shenanigans or care. Not all of them are full of adorableness. Goats are susceptible to many health issues, and reading as many real life accounts of these helped me realize I can handle them when they arise. This won't be the case for everyone. It may help you realize goats are not for you, but watching their antics online is fulfilling enough. No shame in that! I also reached out to a few online goat people and asked them if they would be willing to trade farm work for some hands on goat training. No one accepted that offer, so I did the next best thing and went to goat yoga while I was still in Arizona. Cuddling the baby goats was a great experience. I smiled for a month after. I wouldn't do it again though. A handful of goats split between a hundred people didn't allow for quality goat time and felt a little ...odd. To make sure we liked goat milk I ordered a half gallon from our milk share program with the Amish. It tasted pretty similar to cows milk to me. I also made some pretty delish goat cheese.

Wheel pose with a baby goat. Swoon!

Wheel pose with a baby goat. Swoon!

Decide what breed(s) you want and when you want your goaties to arrive.

What breed(s) you pick will depend on why you want them. Our primary focus for now is dairy so we are going with Nigerian Dwarf Goats. If that is your focus as well you'll want to find a breeder and get on a waiting list for kidding season 3 or 4 months in advance. Oh, you didn't know baby goats don't grow on trees? Well, ok, we all know that, but goats as a dairy animal are HUGE right now. I had no idea I needed to get on a waiting list until this week. I decided to start looking into them again when my Instafriend @Elderoaksfarm shared photos of her babies, so adorable! I'm glad I started looking early. This may not be the case for you depending on your region, or how things have changed since fall of 2017. I can tell you right now though there is a possibility we may not have had a chance at getting goats this year if we waited until spring to start looking. Besides, won't it feel good to get this part over with and know your goats are cookin'? I'm such a planner. I used to be more of a free spirit that winged it all the time.

I'm on two lists at the moment. One I was told it was a long shot, the other said we were early so have a good chance of getting them. To find these lists I checked my local farm trader groups, craigslist, and asked the google. I wanted to get a feel for the farm and their practices, so a strong online presence was a must for me. I want to start our tiny home dairy with goats from a reputable farm so we can hopefully start with healthy kids, and have future growth options should we choose to. Not that you can't do that buying from a hobby goat breeder, but being new in town we don't know where to start with finding what we need by word of mouth. You also need to be sure the herd you are buying from is CAE and CL free. I feel wonderful about the farm we have a good possibility of getting our first goats from. I'm going to try to find a couple more lists to get on just in case. My biggest fear is only having one doeling available to us, because we can't take just one goat. I requested two or three. Two is the minimum you need to make goats happy. If we can only get two we will find a pygora (fiber goat), or a fainting goat for our third. I decided three was our minimum in case something happens to one. A lonely goat is a sad goat, and a sad goat is a loud goat.

We have a long road ahead before we're milking, but we're building at a pace I'm comfortable with.

We have a long road ahead before we're milking, but we're building at a pace I'm comfortable with.

Let your breeder know what you want.

Blue eyes a must? Color, or moon spots deal breakers? Honestly, I don't care what our goaties look like. I know for a fact though I want them to be either polled (naturally hornless), or disbudded. I also prefer them registered so we can sell the kids at freshening, or maybe turn them into 4-H projects. The breeder for the list we have a chance on helped me determine bottle raising is the way we want to go. We work from home, so while it will be a busy several weeks of bottle feeding, we can make it work. Bottle fed babies tend to be friendlier, and easier to milk stand train. All goats have their own personality though, so bottle feeding does not guarantee a good temperament. This particular breeder also gives all the necessary vaccines, deworms, and gives a Coccodia preventative. He is also extremely helpful, has communicated well, and been friendly. I'll be a new goat owner and have LOTS of questions. I'm so grateful I found him. Finding someone who welcomes your questions is priceless.

No, bunny ears are not a feature you can ask the breeder for. Goats are surprisingly content in costume.

No, bunny ears are not a feature you can ask the breeder for. Goats are surprisingly content in costume.

Once you are pretty sure goaties are coming, get ready!!

Fence your pasture, build your barn, start gathering goat supplies, and do all the goat research! We already have a fenced pasture with a hot wire at the top. We need to add goat fencing material to the "nice" side that is just wood, and also add a hot wire to the bottom to keep curious goats in and low ground predators out. We decided we are going to keep them in the barn at night, and bring them out to pasture during the day, so we just need to build a good shelter suitable for inclement weather, but not night time predator protection. We also need to determine if we should get a guard animal. Small goaties can be carted off by large birds of prey. I plan to find old playground stuff, tires, and big wire spools for entertainment. A bored goat is a mischievous goat. Just kidding, goats are always mischievous. Entertainment should help keep them from trying to escape, it may not work though. They are tiny, adorable, escape artists. This is also a good time to get to know your feed store. Do they have the supplies you need on hand, or do you need to order them? What about the feed you want to use? Goats don't eat everything as lore would have it, and they aren't really grazers so they won't survive on pasture alone. Goats you are milking also require a more nutrient dense diet than a wether (castrated male) would, so you will be buying some type of feed. They are also rather picky and won't eat feed off the ground, so if they spill it, it's garbage unless you have another animal that will take it. 

There will be goats on the other side of this fence in a few months! As well as suitable goat fencing. 

There will be goats on the other side of this fence in a few months! As well as suitable goat fencing. 

Gush to all your friends about how excited you are about your goats.

This is when you find out who your real friends are. Someone rolls their eyes at you and says something about stinky farm animals? Cut that person out! You don't need that kind of negativity in your life! Your friends that excitedly jump up and down with you though, those are lifetime friends. Just kidding, you can't judge someone on their excitement level about baby goats. Not everyone is as excited about caring for animals as I am.

I still have a lot to do. I feel like I've planned ahead well, as I have tended to do with this whole homesteading thing. So I'm feeling good about where we are in the goat process. I found a few books about goat care I'm going to thumb through so I can hopefully add one to the bookclub. If you haven't joined yet, do it! We're working through our planning book, and we're reading How to Speak Chicken next. I'm pretty thrilled about it!

If you aren't yet, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and sign up for my newsletter! I promise I'm sending one this week. I'm thinking it will go out every Sunday with a recap of the week's highlights. I was worried about being spammy with it, so I didn't send many, but now it's been so long I'm sure some of you forgot whether you have subscribed or not. Anyhow, I have a plan now, so you will get one soon if you are.

Cheers!

Bev

This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.