On Goat Catching

Another cold, snowy day on the farm. I am sure that come July I will be dreaming of these chilly days, but right now I’d gladly take a 90°F day.

On today’s to-do list? Catch a goat.

When I arrived at the farm, there were five goats. Goats are foragers and were supposed to help clear out a lot of the scrub brush in the pig pasture. That was one of those ideas that work a lot better in theory. Once the goats were in with the pigs, they preferred the readily-accessible pig feed over the brush which makes them more trouble (read: money) than they are worth. So now we are trying to get rid of them. The goal is to send one goat to slaughter each week. Easier said than done.

Goats, unlike chickens, are extremely smart. They seem to instinctively know the difference between a person entering the pen to feed them and a person entering the pen to catch them. The other animals don’t seem to have this intuition which makes things a little easier. It doesn’t help that we don’t have a good area to trap them. With the cows, we can us the corral and with the pigs we can use the feed pen, but goats are jumpers and will actually jump the fence in the feed pen if they sense something is wrong.

Ryan, Steve, and I headed into the pasture with a plan. We would slowly herd the goats into a corner and then Ryan would rope one. With goats you have to work slowly and patiently because once they are spooked, your chances of catching one drop significantly. But you also have to be ready to pick up speed should an opportunity to grab one present itself. You also want to avoid getting head butted. These aren’t cute little petting zoo goats. These guys are big.

English: Tethered goat

Not one of our goats, but similar. They haven’t stood still long enough for me to get a picture of the thus far.

We did our thing, working them into the corner, but then they bolted before we had them boxed in completely. We tried again, but this time they were on to us and stubbornly refused to cooperate. We raised the white flag with plans to try again first thing in the morning. They sleep in a small shelter so we figured we could trap them in there before they knew what was happening.

Steve and I went to do our afternoon chores while Ryan went to work on some other things. A little while later while Steve and I were working with the steers, Ryan called telling us to come quick cause he had one! He’d gone in the pen and just sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Once the goats got used to him being there, they headed for their little hut and he was able to grab one by the horns and held on for dear life until we arrived. It wasn’t by the books, but when it comes to goats, I’m not sure anything is.!

In other news, we now have a hay wagon which I’ll be using to give tours this spring! I got to practice driving the tractor that I’ll be using to pull it and I think I’m going to need a lot more practice before we let visitors ride. The tractor is huge! My feet just kind of dangle. At least I can reach the pedals. Ryan said I’d be fine since I can drive stick, but driving a manual car is not the same as driving a giant tractor. And the wagon wasn’t even attached! If you’ve been thinking of coming to visit and take a tour, I ‘d wait until June. Just a suggestion.

Also, I learned a good lesson today: when spraying straw down in a cow barn, wearing a sweatshirt with pocket is inadvisable. I ended up with a pouch full of straw!

Ryan is on for weekend chores. His fiancé Laurel normally comes out to help so he said he didn’t need me and I could take off. Faced with another four-day weekend, I decided to come home to help my sister paint her bathroom and celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Joel!) Also, Manda got a 1/2 bushel of apples through her CSA so I am going to can some apple butter. I’m so ready for spring and fresh produce and canning!

2 thoughts on “On Goat Catching

  1. “They seem to instinctively know the difference between a person entering the pen to feed them and a person entering the pen to catch them.” – funny. 🙂

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