A View From Above

Goats are eating machines. They are designed to eat coarse greens. Stuff with bulk. Where to put all that food? In their complex bellies. I take the kids out to graze and I can actually see their middles expand. Here is Caper. He is not yet ballooned out to full capacity.


Note the stripe along his back. This strip of long hair is as expressive as a dog’s tail. Excitement makes it stick straight up like a mohawk. Worry makes it quiver. A content goat’s strip is flat. I have goat books, but none mention watching the mohawk, so it was a surprise to me.

Pip and Caper FAQs


Thanks for letting me know how much you enjoy Pip and Caper! Hard to believe, but they are even more delightful in person. I’ve received a number of questions about the kids and I’ll try to answer them here, in random order.

Pip and Caper are twin brothers. Caper was born first. Baby goats are called kids, so when I use that term, it is not the same as putting them on the same plane as human children. (The term “fur-kid” gives me the willies. I will NEVER use it.)

They are gelded males, termed wethers. Just like neutered dogs, they can’t mate. They don’t produce milk (only females do.)  They do like to eat poison ivy, brambles and weeds, so they’ll help me in the back meadow, but that’s not why I got them. I got the kids for the sheer fun of it.

The best food for goats is a pasture with coarse vegetation to browse on. They prefer weeds to clover. Actually, Pip and Caper would prefer roses – they stripped one branch down to the thorns. I will not be walking them past the flower bed again.

Goats also need hay. Hay is dried grass (a mixture different than a suburban lawn.) Goats are quite fussy about the hay they eat. They don’t like it wet or soiled. Since horse mangers are too big, I put the hay in a wire basket that is attached to the stall wall. The bale of hay that I currently have is too coarse to be good feed, (it’s been a terrible year for hay) so I’m using it for bedding, too. However, when the next hay cutting comes in, I’ll switch back to wood shavings for the floor.

Water is in the red bucket. I dump it out, scrub clean, and put fresh water in EVERY DAY. Clean water is vital for good health.

I feed a grain mixture specially formulated for goats. Too much can make the goats sick, but they do need a little. I use it for training treats. That’s what you see in the red bag at my waist when I’m working with the kids.

That purple brick hanging on the stall wall is a mineral block, made for goats. It is, unfortunately, berry-flavored. When the boys rub against it, they turn purple. I’m trying to find a different brand that isn’t dyed!

Pip and Caper have a fenced, grassy area to mosey about during the day. At night they are closed up into the barn to keep them safe from predators – which around here include coyotes, fisher cats, neighboring dogs and possibly a puma (like many areas in New England there have been unconfirmed sightings. Even if it is a very big bobcat, I’d worry.)

Goats need regular vaccinations, deworming and hoof trimming. Luckily, there’s still a vet in my area that does house calls for goats. I’m confident that I have the resources to keep Pip and Caper healthy and happy. But, don’t look here for information about goat care, go to other sites. I’m a rank beginner at goat keeping!

Useful Goats

Goatcam is up! But, sometimes you won’t be able to see the boys on the camera. They might be over at the fence, visiting with the chickens and Candy. Or I might have taken them on a walk. They’re getting used to their leashes. They’re getting more comfortable being away from the barn. And, Pip and Caper are already being useful! This is my butterfly garden along the fence that separates the lawn from the meadow.


Although flowering meadows look wild and easy to maintain, they are actually quite difficult to keep in bloom. Briars and vines, invasive buckthorn and dandelions move in. But, what are weeds to me are gourmet treats to the goats. They’d rather eat thorny branches than clover. Here is Pip, earning his keep. Good boy!


Critter Update

Sorry that I haven’t blogged in awhile. I had a computer crisis. My hard drive tanked. Thanks to my husband, it’s all fixed.

We’re having a rainy, cool summer here in New England. My garden is lush, but the vegetables haven’t ripened. The raspberries are rotting before they ripen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the blueberries will turn blue. But, the meadow is full of briars and brambles and spiky goldenrod – all plants that goats love to eat. Everyday I put leashes on Pip and Caper and take them out there to graze. They’re learning to follow and not pull, bucking like little ponies.

I’ve trained the goats to target my hand – they touch their noses to my outstretched flat palm. They’ll follow that palm anywhere. I’ve had them jumping up on the red muck buckets using the “target” cue. Very cute, but, more importantly, anything that keeps them busy, active and challenged, is something that reduces the likelihood that they’ll get in trouble.

A painted turtle has moved into the water feature. It’s beautiful and I hope it is as wily as the big Koi and knows how to avoid predators.

We’ve also seen our share of wild turkeys, deer, hawks, coyotes, and bluebirds. Several of you have noticed the sparrows that are living in the HenCam coop.  Every morning, they panic because they can’t get out of the barn. When I open up the door they scoot out. Silly things.

You’ve probably also noticed Betsy and Lulu in the nesting boxes. They’re broody, which means they think that they have to sit and hatch eggs. Neither are laying, or actually on any eggs. Useless. Have you seen me pick them out of their beds and unceremoniously dump them on the coop floor or shove them out the door? Being broody puts Lulu in a VERY bad mood. She huffs up and looks like a mini-wild turkey tom. She attacks the rabbit. She makes angry noises. I’m hoping she’ll snap out of it in a week or so.

We’re still working to get the goatcam up. Losing the hard drive set us back a bit, but it might happen this week. I’ll let you know.