if you follow us on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that we have goats on the farm! they are not ours – they belong to our friend Laura – but we asked if we could borrow them to eat down the epic stand of sunflowers in our pasture, and they are doing a lovely job of that, much faster than we anticipated.
We picked up two goats (yearling wethers – that is, castrated males about one year old) one week, and then four more (a yearling doe and three kids) the following week.
The wethers by themselves were so difficult to handle that we called the instigator Trouble. When the rest of the herd arrived, they calmed down a bit, and were willing to move with the group – and the group was often led by the littlest kids, two bottle-fed four-month-old darlings. The doeling of the pair is named Lentil, and she won over every heart on the farm within a couple days. She runs up to meet you when you come up to the field, she follows you around while you’re working, she head-butts to ask to have her head scratched. She loves being petted, and accepts being picked up and carried around.
Lentil’s little wether buddy is every bit as friendly as she is, but Laura said he was going to be eaten in July, so she hadn’t named him. So I named him July, so that I wouldn’t get attached. hahaha. that didn’t work.
’cause it turned out he and Lentil both would accept being on a leash, so we brought them out to help with the weeding, in an area where they couldn’t reach any cultivars. well, except some low-hanging apricot branches, but we were going to have to prune those anyway. no, really.
Then Laura said, okay, it’s time I came and picked up Lentil and one of the boys, and by then we had been talking it over for weeks, so I said, “what if we were to buy July from you?” and he could be our first starter-goat. We’ll get a doeling roughly his age, and the two of them will be our first goat herd. You can’t have just one goat – they get too lonely without a companion. But we don’t want to start our own goat-owning journey with multiple does – or with a doe who is already ready to be bred & then milked. That’s too much too fast! This is the perfect transition – young kids, who are a year and some away from being bred, one wethered male to be a companion to one female who will become the milker. And as it turns out, the folks at Coonridge Goat Farm down in Pie Town, where Laura first got her goats, have an alpine doe that age for sale. So! We get goats of our own!
Meanwhile Lentil is also Laura’s favorite, so after about a month, she headed back home, along with Trouble. Lentil is destined to lead a long and healthy life as a milker, and Trouble was the central feature of a matanza (goat-roast) last weekend, a suitable fate. Now there are four goats in our field, and when we get our own little doeling, Laura will take her other three home. It’s been a busy, active month – but we are all so delighted to be raising goats of our own this year! This was one of our stated goals when we formed Sunflower River back in 2007. We even built a goat shed around 2009. It’s had peacocks in it, it’s had storage in it, but it has never previously housed a goat. As I write this, our stalwart and spectacular summer intern team is cleaning it out and getting ready to move the goats into it for the night so we can irrigate the pasture field in the morning.