Extending the Goat Paddock

The goats’ stall door leads into a small paddock. It’s a very nice place for goats – it shares a fence with the HenCam coop, so the animals can visit (which they do!) It has two large rocks for basking in the sun and play. It has grass. It even has the compost piles.

The compost on the left is fenced off. It’s where the chicken manure and kitchen scraps go. The other side contains the hay and shavings from the kids’ stall. Goats have a reputation for eating everything, but in truth they are very picky eaters. I’d estimate that they reject 40% of the hay from their manger. And if any touches the ground they won’t touch it. Fussier than any horse I’ve ever known!  The funny thing is, when I put that trodden on hay on the compost pile, Pip and Caper eat it up.

goats in compost

I think it appeals to their adventurous, foraging natures.

They’re in for a real treat soon – we’ve been working on extending their paddock into the back meadow. I’ll be using fencing especially made for goats and poultry – it’s electrified to keep out the predators, and the netting is small enough that the goats won’t try to squeeze out. We’ll be able to move it around the back pasture and into the woods. The boys should love that.

This patch of golden rod, ferns and brambles will be enclosed soon.

new pasture

I think we’ll have some happy goats, don’t you?

Lily Saves the Day

Lily is an almost perfect farm dog. In the six years I’ve had her, she has kept all woodchucks, foxes and raccoons off of the property. Coyotes trot through, but they don’t stay. Squirrels are banned from the bird feeders. Her high prey drive keeps the chipmunks off of the blueberry bushes. All would be perfect, except she is so reactive to movement, that I can’t ever let the chickens out at the same time as Lily. I can train her not to chase them, but I’d never be 100% certain that she wouldn’t go after a running hen.


This morning I decided to let the hens out for a forage while I walked the goats in the meadow. I closed Lily up in the house. I opened the doors to the coop runs. The hens hurried out. I put the leashes on the goats. We meandered over to the stone wall, which is overhung by large oak trees, with small maples growing up behind. The goats love those maple leaves. All was pleasant.

Lily, inside the house, with all the doors and windows closed, started barking her loud “watch-out” bark. The goats bolted. I looked up and saw a huge hawk in hunting mode over my lawn. I dropped the leashes, ran into the middle of the yard, waved my arms and yelled. The hawk glided up and away towards the deep woods. The goats ran into the barn. The chickens that live in the big barn were already huddled in their coop. I counted. All seven were safe. I settled the goats in and looked for the hens in the HenCam coop. The three bantams were under Candy’s hutch. But the other girls were hiding in the bushes and pine trees behind the coop. They did not want to come out for corn. I chased. I lured. I grabbed. Finally, all seven were back in their run, safe and sound.

Lily has done this before. I don’t know whether she can hear the hawk (she has amazing hearing and alerts to my car coming home when I’m a quarter of a mile away) or whether she was looking out the window and saw the hawk. I do know that in the past I’ve seen her chase hawks out of the sky, but ignore other flying birds, and airplanes. She’s not just going after movement or shadows. She knows what she’s doing. It’s mind-boggling that Lily was still doing her farm-dog work while shut inside. At times I do get annoyed at her loud barking, but today it saved my hens. Good dog, Lily! I’m going to go give her another cookie.

Come For a Walk With The Boys

Every morning I take the goats for a morning munch in the meadow (don’t you just love alliteration?) This is their chance to see a bit of the wide world and graze on the varied foods that are so good for goats and that they so love. Please join us.

First, we hurry out of the stall.

out the door

Although I’m teaching a “come” and a “follow me,” they’d rather eat my flowers and mint than do as told. Notice the leashes. I’m about to use them.

stop to eat the flowers

The boys like different foods. Caper always goes for the sunflower leaves. Pip is partial to the apple mint – which he likes much more than the peppermint that is one step away.

Next, they head over to the horseradish. A taste of something spicy makes for a yummy first course.

gorge on horseradish

The horseradish tends to get invasive, so I am happy to have them prune it back.

The entree is always golden rod. They are quite fussy about which leaves to eat. Pip likes the tender tops. It might be easier to reach it this way:

reach from the wall

Or, maybe try this:

rear up to eat

Maple leaves are for dessert.

trees are good

And, even though their bellies are bulging, a final nip on some ferns is hard to resist.

ferns are tasty

Finally, back home. Look at how wide Caper is!

on the rock

Thanks for joining us.