Our First Goats
We found out about a man between Brent and Marion, AL who was raising pygmy goats. We went to his house and found a small herd living in very tight quarters. There wasn't a stitch of green anywhere in the pen, their diet was hay, corn and sweet feed. They all appeared to be healthy but having no room to run and play was sad. He had 1 mature white billy and approximately a total of 10 does and baby goats. We weren't interested in any males unless it was a wether, and he had none of those. He had 4 does he was willing to part with, so we checked them over and picked the 2 cutest ones. They had both been in with the billy for a full month so it is likely they have been bred.
Getting Them Home
We loaded the 2 goats into the van and headed home. The drive was only about 20 minutes and the goats did well. They just stood in one spot and watched us intently. Once we arrived back at the farm, we carried them one by one to the front pasture and let them loose. Being a little scared from the relocation, they huddled together while they surveyed the land. After a few minutes, they started walking around and nibbling at all the greenery.
Oddly enough, they had no interest in the loafing shed and went under one of the bridges. They have slept there every night since then. There's an old kid's story about goats and a bridge, but these 2 don't mind if you walk across it or not. Their names were Lily and Alex, but we changed Alex's name to Lucy. Alex just sounded like a male name to us, and the goat didn't know her name anyway. We'll be building a small old west town eventually for all the animals to live and play in, but until that gets done we'll build a playhouse high above the creek for them. 38
New Hay Feeder
We keep a few extra bales of hay stored in the loafing shed, but we needed a feeder for out in the pasture. We know that goats can really waste a lot of hay by pulling it to the ground... then they won't eat it because it touched the ground. But they have no problem eating weeds that grow out of the ground! Goats are weird.
We always intended to use the smaller square bales because they are much easier to manage. The rolls of hay are heavy and they need a much larger feeding system. A square bale around here costs roughly $5 per bale, and a roll of hay averages about $30. We designed our feeder to hold one square bale of hay at a time. It has a large lid that is on hinges so we can reload the feeder easily. The sides of the feeder are covered in Red Brand Field Wire. This wire has large enough holes for the animals to grab a bite, but small enough to prevent them from pulling out more than a mouthful.
How It's Made
The bottom of the feeder serves as a trough to catch any hay that is pulled out but not eaten. It has a 3.5" lip around it works well. The animals will step into the trough to grab a bite through the wire, but they will also eat the hay that has fallen to the bottom. The feeder is built on five 6" legs so we can get the fork lift under it when we want to move it to a new location. It took about half a day to build and we were able to use some materials we had on hand, but we did have to buy a sheet of 3/4" treated plywood and several treated 2x4s. The animals love the feeder and it works great.
We have a new resident at the farm, a young pygmy goat female named Diane. Funny how it turns out that all of our animals here have human names. I reckon we'll just have to keep doing that as the animals arrive. Diane is a loving little goat, she enjoys sitting in your lap being scratched, as well as running and jumping and bucking and being silly.
Lily and Lucy were sort of leery of her when she first arrived but now they all hang out together. They seem to feel safe underneath the far bridge and that's usually where you can find them when they aren't out eating or playing. 97% of the time Charlie ignores the goats... the other 3% he chases them. The goats can easily get away from him as he won't walk across the bridge, plus the goats can easily jump the creek.
4 Months Old
Diane is 4 months old, we got her from a couple who have a few goats but don't want to have any more. They offered us Diane when she was weaned so we took her. She is a lot more curious than the other goats, that's likely due to her age. We're glad to have Diane and we know she'll be happy here at the farm for a very long time. 39