Thursday, June 23, 2011
A week ago... 2? Something like that... we started letting the goats out in the pasture. The back fence really isn't up to goat-holding, but they really must start earning their keep, or at least requiring less in the way of "keep". For a while it was fine - they stuck mainly to the front third of the pasture, but the past few days they've been heading off for parts unknown on a regular basis, while we try to get that back fence reinforced. We set LemurBoy out in the orchard (not actually in the pasture, but adjacent, and cool and shady) to play goat-herd when they headed out. That works for a while, but he hasn't been socialized into a child labor society where sitting out watching goats all day would be totally normal at 8. Ah well.
We've started feeding them weeds instead of hay when they're in the corral. Weeds are plentiful, free, and their preferred food anyways. It's more work, but necessary regardless. The sandy soil around here makes them easy to pull, and they grow about half a foot a day, so I can clear a big section of the property and fill a big bucket with enough food for all of them in about 20 minutes if I hit the right area. It's very satisfying, though I admit I'm loathe to do it on particularly hot days.
The mama goat (aka Turbo. The teenage boys of the previous owner named their goats, so that their mom wouldn't get attached) is the matriarch of the herd. She's rather bossy, and tends to chase everyone but her nurslings away from the food (we have multiple feedings spots, so they still get to eat!). Even in the pasture, where food is all around. It's rather silly. I can sympathize - making milk for three kids has to take a lot out of her.
The three nurslings' (are they still nursing? I'm not certain. But it's useful for classification) personalities are still rather undistinct, but they're very pretty and docile, willing to be hugged and petted. I'm not sure what their names are. I've heard Fleur, Chinchilla, Jedi, and Curry... but there's only three of them. Curry's the only one I'm sure about. I imagine you can guess his intended fate.
B.B. (Bottle Baby) is Turbo's 4th kid whom she rejected. He's about half the size of his siblings (whether that's due to being bottlefed or some congenital problem that caused his mother to reject him in the first place we're not sure), and thinks he's a human. He seemingly has no survival instinct, and wanders off from the herd, especially if there's a person somewhere around. He's probably going to end up being a pet.
He strikes me as the skinny little hyperactive genius kid who was always hanging around talking the heads off the adults instead of playing on the playground.
Dumb and Dumber, or Beavis and Butthead, are the two pygmy males. I think that's all I really need to say about them.
Marsha is the pygmy female. She strikes me as the most intelligent of the lot. She's cute and sweet and inquisitive, but rather skittish. I get the impression she's starting to tame down a bit - I've been able to pet her on a few occasions without her running away.
LemurDa thinks he wants to get rid of the pygmies and focus on the bigger goats. The original plan was to try to breed a boer/nubian/pygmy cross, and keep Marsha for milk, but given how docile the boer/nubian kids are, they're starting to feel more appropriate for that. I quickly talked him into selling Marsha instead of eating, which makes sense both because we'll get more than she'd likely be worth in meat, and because, if you can't tell, I'm kind of fond of her.
(If anyone localish is looking for a pygmy or three, let me know.)
Meanwhile, the chickens broke into the goat pen, and we decided to just let them. That's the eventual goal anyways. Many of them are big enough to stand up to the cats at this point, and the goats act threatening enough towards the cats that they've so far avoided the goat pen.
We had a smaller scale Chicken Run a few weeks ago, when we first put them outside. The cats did manage to get one that time, bringing us down to 35 chickens.
I don't think we've lost any besides the one that got catted and the three day old that died of unknown causes. Or at least I haven't found any scattered feathers or random chicken legs lying around. But I'm not up to trying to count 35 chickens running around like, well, chickens with their heads not cut off, so I can't say for sure.
Compare this to:
Sharp observers may remember we started with 21 chicks. The day we moved the first batch outside, the local farm supply store was selling 2 week old chicks off for $0.50 each because they were getting "too old" to sell - presumably too big for their brooder or something. A lower price AND two less weeks we have to feed and house (indoors, when they're so young, and it was still cold at that point) the things. Score!
Whichever ends up being the smallest rooster is set to be sold to a local friend with a flock of bantams whose rooster recently died. She may end up getting some hens, as well. A few with a particular color pattern just aren't growing as fast as the others, and we wonder if they'll end up being banties themselves. In that case, we may send them along with the rooster, as I'm not sure they'll ever be able to hold their own against the cats if that's the case.