It's hard to describe the feeling you get when you're surrounded by a herd of goats. Sheer joy? Boundless delight? Overwhelming happiness?
One of the most amazing things I discovered after we got our goats, and what led us to starting Haute Goat, was that I only had to say the word 'goat' to make people smile, giggle, laugh, tell a story, ask a question. So it wasn't just me! Goats just make you feel good. Simple as that. I don't know if its chemical, magical or just plain fantasy. All I know is its true.
When Shain was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, going back and forth for radiation treatments, he would sometimes get sad. I suggested he go down to the barn and sit with the baby goats for awhile. He disappeared into the goat pen and when he came back, he had a grin on his face that went from ear to ear. You can't stay sad with baby goats jumping on you, chewing your hair, doing acrobatic twists to entertain you. You just can't.
We've had so many stories like that. The woman who brought her son with severe autism to the farm one day. He was usually very remote, but this day, we let the goats out into the field with the family and he ran with them screaming with joy - and the goats seemed to know and responded in kind. She was amazed and delighted. We, of course, were thrilled.
We watch with delight when the families from Starlight Foundation come and get completely engaged with our little hairy beasties and forget - at least for an hour - their troubles.
Little kids with unbridled excitement, just scream with delight when the goats come up to nuzzle them. Seniors who remember being on the farm are thrilled to be here and see how we do things and tell us how they used to do them.
It's not unusual for a group of friends to come sit on the picnic bench outside the goat pen and just watch them for hours at a time, running on the bridges, jumping on the play structures, just plain having fun.
There was a friend who'd had breast cancer and promised herself that if she survived she wanted to get goats - a lifelong dream. I had a lump in my throat as she came for her first 2 goats from us. Then came back this year for a third. Nothing says I'M ALIVE, like a goat....
And the stories go on. You probably have one. If not, come to Haute Goat and no doubt you'll create many.
What a whirlwind this year has been! I’m out of breath just thinking about it. At the same time, exhilarated.
We moved to the ‘new’ Haute Goat Farm in Port Hope just over 2 years ago to be closer to kids and grandkids. And from that simple notion, has grown a wonderful adventure. Like anyone, we’ve had ups and downs, but on balance, I think the ups have far outweighed the downs. Here are some of the things that stand out about 2017…View full article →
It's not a move made lightly or without a lot of consideration. Our farm is truly a magical place. When we have visitors here, every one of them marvels at what a special place this is. That magic is what grabbed us when we first saw this place 8 years ago - and it has never let go.
For anyone who’s ever asked how we managed to live the dream…..finding our Bashert Farm in Campbellford was the first step. If you might be interested in doing the same, and want information on our Campbellford farm, we’d love to hear from you – just pm me.
This year I was really smug because the goat breeding seemed to go really well. And then it was time to get the bucks out of the doe pens. Ideally, the 3 bucks can live in the same pen together. But its always a crap shoot. So many things influence whether they will get along as well as they had before breeding season. At first the boys seemed to be happy to see each other. But within a day or two I came down to the barn to find Mr. T. bleeding from his head. (No pictures of that). As it turns out, though I thought T was being picked on, it seems he was the picker and Rudolf Valentino was the pickee - so to speak.
Ordinarily, things settle down within a day or two and after some scuffling the new pecking order gets established and the only butting happens at dinner time. This time, Rudolf was being beaten up so badly he was seeing stars. And I've no doubt he would have been killed had we left him there much longer.
So he got moved to another pen, on his own to recover. But he was lonely. So we put Emmy, one of the does he bred in with him. I guessed that pairing wrong too. They didn't hurt each other. But Emmy was really missing her girlfriends. She spoke to me all day long and every chance she got to say she'd had enough of Rudolf and wanted to get back to her posse. I thought she'd settle in. But after 5 days she was still prattling on at me.
So we moved her back with her friends and it was as if she'd never left. I'd resisted putting any little ones in with Rudolf because he could really hurt them if he weren't pleased. But at this point there wasn't much choice. So I put Yoda and Fast Eddie - who are great buddies - in with Rudy. And although Yoda was a little unsure about this big fellow, it wasn't long before he and Fast Eddie were dancing circles around the old man and even he started getting into the fun of it all.
I'm often asked how hard it is to take care of a goat. Its actually more complicated than you'd expect. In some ways they are such hardy beasties. They can live very happily in -20 degree weather, as long as they have access to a shelter when needed. They grow adorable furry coats which seem to keep them warm enough. Its usually more of a problem keeping their water thawed, than keeping them warm in winter. They are ruminants and have 4 stomachs. If you've ever had stomach issues - imagine the possibilities if you were dealing with 4 of them - each with a different function?
One of the things that never gets old, is seeing reactions when we tell people that we raise goats. Without exception, it makes people laugh, smile and feel good. They want to hear the stories, see pictures and know more. It seems that there are a lot of people who dream of getting goats one day and I'm all for it - if you're sure of what you're getting into. There is nothing more fun and rewarding and sometimes more heartbreaking and difficult, than raising goats. It's hard to be in a crappy mood when you're surrounded by these gentle, inquisitive, opinionated little creatures.
Keeping the gut balanced is critical to the health of a goat. And figuring out the right mix of feed, grains, nutrients to keep it all on track feels pretty close to rocket science sometimes. It's taken me 6 years to find a mix that I'm happy with - and even so, I'm always working to improve it.Then there are vaccinations. Just as in humans, vaccinations are meant to avoid a whole raft of potential ailments, many of which are specific to goats. The lovely complication is that very few medications are made specifically for goats. There just aren't enough of them to warrant the drug companies developing goat-specific meds and vaccines. So we goat owners are left to figure out how to adapt meds made for sheep, cattle and sometimes horses (or even people) for goats. Furthermore, because goat metabolisms are much faster than most of these other animals, doses often need to be doubled, tripled or sometimes even quadrupled to be effective. But not always. So you see the tricky waters we goat people sometimes have to navigate.
There are loads more things to think (and worry) about when you live with goats. And I'm always learning and they're always teaching. And no matter how hard it is, what heartbreaking thing has happened, there isn't a day I'm not incredibly grateful for the love and happiness they generate at our place.
So after reading this, if you are STILL interested in raising goats - don't hesitate to send me an email. I'm happy to discuss goats all day long.
Well, all good things come to an end....and so it goes with our goats too. The does were in breeding groups from November 16th. Each group had one buck - Rudolf Valentino, Mr. T. or Don ChwAAN. They were together from November 16th through 2 heat cycles (they cycle every 3 weeks). We were a tad late because of the cold weather and moved them last Sunday. There was some readjusting while pecking orders were re-established. The bucks were all back together again and there was some bloodletting in their pen. But they've now all settled in again and seem glad to see each other. Here's a link to a short video I did in the doe pen just after they were re-united.
We had 19 chickens yesterday. Tonight when I went around to tuck everyone in there were 10.