Beware of networking! I’m still coming to terms with the fact that a couple of tentative inquiries into acquiring a milking goat or two somehow escalated into me keeping a dairy herd of eight goats, including three pregnant does who’ve increased the numbers by another seven. I kid you not!
I’ll spare you the details…suffice it to say that someone had eight goats needing a home, and I apparently had a home needing eight goats!
There is a notable discrepancy between goat fantasizing and actual goatkeeping. While still in the grip of some Alpine-meadow-induced trance, I envisioned a quaint herd that would greet me every morning with goatly decorum and follow me devotedly to a designated grazing spot where I would sit on a rock (preferably Alpine) and sip my morning Swiss chocolate while they obligingly mowed my lawn. What I got was an unmannerly herd of caprine gangstas that crash gates, mob me when I carry in the grain and bleat deprecating commentaries when some imaginary contaminant fouls their drinking water.
After couple of days of crushed toes, one bloody nose (mine, not the goat’s), and multiple gate upgrades my head was out of the thin Alpine air and my trampled feet were firmly back on the ground. We hammered out a cross-species entente: they would train me in the ways of the goat and I would become their willing servant.
If I had secretly entertained thoughts about backing out on the deal, Cookies and Cream, a brown and white Nubian, vetoed that option by presenting me with three little doelings the morning after she arrived. ‘Here’ she said, ‘I can’t possibly feed three kids. Check the undercarriage…only two nozzles. Why don’t you supplement them with a bottle, bond irrevocably with them, and then we’ll revisit your idea of returning us.’ After that bit of staged coersion, I succumbed. Now every farm chore includes a detour to the barn to “check on” the kids. Two sets of twins followed, providing further distraction, since kid cavorting trumps weeding every time!
We now have a workable routine: I let them out to graze in the morning and sprint after them through raspberry canes and logging stumps with my coffee sloshing down the front of me. After the mosquitoes have extracted a pint of blood, or a half an hour (whichever comes first), I slink stealthily back to the paddock, locking the gate quietly behind me to shut the goats out. I then set out the grain and open the gate, simultaneously leaping backwards as they stampede in and take up positions at the trough.
Next I dump out three buckets of perfectly good water, refill them and leave the herd to make beds from all the clean hay in the feed crib so they can bask in the sun.
At this point they agree that I can begin my day of gardening (this IS still an organic market garden after all) and that they’ll call me if they need me.
So far it’s working.