It was a Triple F day today… our First Farm Fail.
It started with goats and ended with a glass of wine (or two) and a box of Cheezles. It was the kind of day that needs to be washed off with a hot shower before bed. But, in the vein of practising what I preach, I will look at it as a learning experience and see what I can do better next time.
So, what happened?
We’ve got thistle… lots and lots of thistle. It’s prickly, pokey and very hardy. To avoid having to brush cut or poison it we thought…. goats! Goats eat anything, right?
The rationalisation went something like this –
Goats are like sheep, right? They look the same, so they must be similar. Let’s get some goats. Yeah, we’ve just moved in but…. and wait for it…. How hard can a couple of goats be?
I found a couple of goats on a local Buy Swap Sell site. It’s like eBay but for a specific area.They were 9 months old, cute and nearby. Perfect. We visited and had a look. The first clue was that they were young and on the market from someone who had recently purchased them. The second clue was the description of one, Bella, as “spirited”. The sellers talked about how Bella had escaped several times and was on the lamb for about 3 weeks. They advised that we should make sure our fences were good and that to catch a goat you grab whatever is closest and hold on.
All I heard was “Goats are cute”.
Hindsight: As I sat on my sofa at the end of the Triple F day with my glass of wine and cheezles I researched goats. This is what I should have done before bringing them home.
There is a vast body of knowledge on the web about goats being one of three types – Sweet goats, indifferent goats and A-Hole goats. The only fence that can hold a goat, apparently, is at Rikers Island Prison. Riiight.
Back to the situation at hand. Before the goats arrived we had a look at our fence. We planned to house them in a fully fenced paddock and tether them in the paddock through the day. Each day we would move them so that they could eat as much of the dreaded thistle as possible. Foolproof, right?
A mere 15 minutes into our goat-venture, the spirited Bella got spooked and bolted, breaking her collar. The second goat, Dingbat, didn’t want to be left out and bolted after her. I had just entered their enclosure and hadn’t latched the gate (of course) and they zipped out the gate and into the paddock.
We tried chasing them. It was a chase that could havce been musically scored to the Benny Hill theme song. Two goats run left followed by two bumbling humans. Repeat to the right. I could just picture our across the way neighbour sitting on the verandah with a cold beer laughing until he couldn’t breathe at the city pukes chasing goats through the field.
We then tried to capture them. We laid a trail of food – Hansel and Gretel Style – to the paddock. I think I actually expected to wake up to them in the paddock looking apologetic.
Morning came and no goats. They ate the food though. I read that goats like Cheezles. Willing to try anything, I left a trail of Cheezles into the enclosure. We rigged up a rope to pull the door shut and waited. No go. They did prune my roses for me though which was nice of them.
We had sightings for about 2 weeks. After that, nothing. In the end, we had goats for about 15 minutes.
Bella and Dingbat will be fine. There is food, shade and water surrounding our farm. Its likely that they are cute enough to be adopted by whomever finds a couple of random goats in their paddock.
I learned some valuable lessons:
- Farming is hard. I underestimated how hard.
- Do your research and don’t be swayed by cute. Animals are a lot of responsibility and don’t behave as you want them to.
- Goats are not sheep.
- Don’t rush into things. Take time to think, get used to the farm and get things prepared.
- Goats don’t particularly like Cheezles.