The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Month: June 2016

Six weeks with the goats

Goats foraging just outside the barn

It’s been a little over six weeks since we brought goats to our farm.  All in all, it has been very smooth. I was expecting a lot of fence-breaking and otherwise mischievous tomfoolery, but that hasn’t been the case at all. It took a few weeks to establish routine, but since then it has been uneventful. Just the way I like it.

Goats eating down the weeds

The goats have lived up to their species’ reputation by making quick work of a weedy forest. Once they figured out there was no more hay in the trough, they really started mowing down the undergrowth in our woods. I ended up moving the fence to add an extra few hundred square feet and within 2 days I had to move the fence again. In the last 3 weeks the progress has been so effective that I no longer have to mow certain areas around the barn and cabin.

Farmer boy with the goats

Ivar has been a great farm-hand. I’ll find him hanging out with Darcy and Precious on many occasions. They’ve warmed up to their new owners and are quite friendly now, scaling the pen walls to get a pet on the neck (but what they really want is more corn).

Resourceful goats reaching high up

The electric fencing has been fantastic. After the first shock or two, they never test it again. And before you get overly concerned, the shock isn’t bad. Its about the same as rubbing your socks on carpet and touching something metal. More startling than painful. Pictured above I have two strands covering about an acre of woods. The goats are quite resourceful at finding interesting forage, but they never test the electric fence.

It’s been a good six weeks with the goats. Besides the brush control and friendly demeanor, they put on quite a show. It’s not uncommon to find a peanut gallery watching the local entertainment.

Peanut gallery

 


Little lambs

Hello, Lambs!

We didn’t originally plan to acquire sheep so soon. We felt that goats were going to be enough of an adventure. But we had the space, the pasture, and enough confirmations from friends that we decided to go ahead with it.

I makeshifted a livestock transporter out of a trailer (thanks Josh!) and drove to Red Wing to pick up our little lambs. Not so little, in fact. I originally planned to buy four but after moving the first two into the trailer I told the breeder I think we’ll start with three. These little lambs were only 5 months old but pushing 75-80 lbs. I thought we’d get stampeded trying to get them out of the pens.

Transporting the sheep

It seems like the most stressful experience with any animal is just getting them home. The lambs did great, but it was challenging getting them into trailer and back out into their pens. At one point Ivar climbed inside an upright coil of wire fencing to safely watch it all go down.

Good fences make good neighbors

The lambs have been here just one week and have acclimated well. They are neighbors with the goats, and mostly civil at that. Although Darcy (the mama goat) always climbs up the pen and peers over the top every time I feed the sheep their daily allowance of grain. Sorry Darcy, go back to the woods.

Lambs never far apart

The lambs’ wool is already starting to get thick, about 2 inches deep. Ivar pointed out right away that it feels like carpet. They are never far apart, often huddling together. A true “herd” mentality. So far they have been slow to start grazing pasture, having lived solely on grain and hay the first five months of their life. But they are gradually getting used to the idea.

Lambs grazing in the pasture

 


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