Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Tips On How Not To Raise Goats

So here's the thing: you all know our goats are spoiled. Let's start with the 3 acres of pasture they have to graze on. I can't tell you how many goats I have seen penned up with little to no grass to eat and no room to wander. Then let's add the fresh water - there's both a spring in the pasture plus Marty and I keep 2 troughs filled at all times. Then there's the barn, providing shelter when it's cold, windy or wet. The picnic table, which they love to play on and sleep under. The straw we provide for them to lay on. The $20/bale, top of the line, alfafa hay we provide as a snack. The animal cookies they get as a treat. And the Goat Chow. Yes the Goat Chow.

It's funny. While my mornings are much more manageable these days (mainly because we no longer feed the goats), the afternoons have become miserable. Feeding the goats, which should take a minute or 2, takes 10 and here's why.

The first problem is that Marty and I have always fed Elvis and Ann-Margaret from 2 separate, side-by-side troughs. The second problem, is that we have always stood over them while they eat because Elvis has a tendency to get all Alpha and push Ann-Margaret out of her trough. Well - she was always so little and then she was pregnant and who likes to see a cute, little pregnant goat bullied by a Billy?

Then came Nugget. Well - there's no room for a third trough in the current set-up, and there's no way she can push her way into between Elvis and Ann-Margaret (horns being the biggest obstacle - they take up a lot of room), so now Elvis gets a big scoop in his trough, Ann-Margaret gets a big scoop in her trough, and then Nugget eats out of a bucket which we hold up for her (because Marty insists that we make it easy on her so she doesn't have to bend down on her knees to eat).

Still, Nugget takes her time eating (not yet realizing it's a competition), while Elvis and Ann-Margaret gobble up their feed at incredible rates and inevitably, Elvis will push Ann-Margaret out of her trough before she's done eating and so she'll come over and push Nugget out of the bucket and then I'll have to try and finagle a small scoop of feed from under Ann-Margaret's nose and feed it to Nugget out of the scooper while Ann-Margaret polishes off what's in the bucket. And frankly, Ann-Margaret has become quite bitchy while she tries to show that she's right below Elvis in the pecking order and she's taken to bucking and being aggressive and while I feel bad that she's permanently pregnant and it's hot, I don't appreciate her attitude at all.

We're working on a solution (something involving a proper trough that can accomodate a number of goats and where they have plenty of space to stand and eat because while we may be registered Republicans we seem to be rather liberal and democratic when it comes to our animals), but in the mean time, here's another tip in case you decide to raise some goats: they don't need to be fed individually. It's called a herd for a reason.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...