October 18, 2016

Goats in the Garden

The other day Dan helped me move the electric net fence. The girls had finished their brush control duty, so I wanted to partition off part of the the garden for them. I'm still getting a few tomatoes and green peppers, also sweet basil and some okra, but the rest is done for the year. At least it's done trying to grow vegetables - weeds are going gangbusters.


The garden will make some good eating for the goats, especially since the pastures are all dried up.


The only problem is that this is unfamiliar territory for them, so they won't go down there by themselves.


They wait for me to lead them through the gate and expect me to hang out with them.


Sometimes I'm able to sneak off and they don't notice.


Then a car whizzes by or a scary kitty cat comes along and they all go charging back to the barn.

Once they get their fill we'll see about trying to make it look like a real garden once again. Ordinarily I would like to have everything prepared and planted by this time of year, but the soil is so hard and dry from no rain that's it's impossible to do anything with it. The wiregrass hasn't minded, though. It is fast growing and tenacious and is what is covering the ground in all the photos above. Even most of my cardboard and wood chip mulch has disappeared under it.

One thing I've learned about trying to live off the land is that it requires patience, faith, and a willingness to adapt annually. The results aren't predictable and there are no guarantees. It's a humbling way of life.

Goats in the Garden © October 2016 by

19 comments:

Goatldi said...

About a week. At least in my goating years it has been my experience that it takes about a week to get used to those darn changes in routine. Like clockwork the does in Pen 2 together only since a week ago Sunday and were taking sides that day and the days that followed are now a herd. I expect if you keep it up by next Sunday they will be walking to and perhaps even opening up the gate on their own. ;-)

Dawn McHugh said...

I must go wrong with my goats, they seem so nervous, a few weeks ago they didnt want to go in there house, even for food, they would stand in the doorway and look, even stay out in the rain, we cleared there house out in case there was snake or hedgehog taken up residence, there was nothing, all we could think was something had come along at night and scared them, this had also happened earlier in the year, it has taken a couple of weeks and they are now going back in, I would love to take them up the drive to browse but have no idea how to get them to come.

Leigh said...

There was an interesting discussion on the Holistic Goats Yahoo Group awhile back. It seems they believed that part of it has to do with the herd queen. It's supposed to be an alpha doe who will do like you said and keep them there once she deems it acceptable. On the other hand, if the human is seen as herd queen, the goats won't stay put no matter what!

Lini usually leads out so I'm hoping she'll decide soon that it's okay for the goats to go there on their own. :)

Fiona said...

Our ground is too hard to work right now...but the chickens are doing amazing work in the garden where Ralph had flail mowed. I think animals like having their people around as much as we like time spent with them. Your garden does look like good goat pasture...I mean that in a GOOD way. ��

Leigh said...

They do seem to get spooked easily and they are highly suspicious of anything different. Do they usually come when you call them and follow you around? Once I get to that point with my goats, they'll stick to me like velcro when we go somewhere.

Leigh said...

Ha! I like to think of it that way. There seem to be lots of tasty weeds in there! They do eat some of the wiregrass, but just mouthfuls. It makes pretty tough hay, but I add it to the hay feeder anyway.

Our ground is too hard right now too, so no fall planting has taken place. I reckon by the time it does rain, I'll just call it early spring planting.

Mountain Mama said...

Ha ha, what funny goats - I can't believe they are frightened of a little kitty cat!!

Renee Nefe said...

and my garden is too wet. I can't get in there without sinking. sigh

Donna OShaughnessy said...

We no longer own goats but did for years when our kids showed them in 4-H. They are the sweetest, gentlest most troublesome creatures on earth, like human children can be. We are now in the process of tossing garden leftovers to our broiler chicks, laying hens, ducks, cattle and before they went to the locker...our four hogs. It's a great way to spread the wealth. And thanks Leigh for recent comments on my writing blog, it's a lonely one without too many followers yet so I deeply appreciate your drop-bys!

Farmer Barb said...

I am blessed that my spring is still hanging in there. My animals are still watered even though we are down to a trickle. It goes about a gallon an hour, but that is still more than the sheep/goats/chickens/ducks need in a day. Many people here have had their wells run dry and had to redrill. I didn't even bother with a garden this year. A little arugula and pumpkins that were watered by the over flow. Hopefully, it will rain gently so we won't lose it all!

Goatldi said...

In this case I was integrating a two year doe and her 6 month old doe kids , already established in that pasture/pen area with a three year old doe and her yearling daughter plus her 6 month old
doe kid. The two year old was never a herd queen her Auntie and mom would never let that happen lol. However she had been residing in that area for the last 4 months so possession is 9/10th of the law in the goat world too. My goats (bucks inc. ) all have names know their names and also respect that I am herd queen and know when Mama ain't happy nobody is happy. Interesting opposites of the Holistic Goat group.

Leigh said...

Goat stories never fail to be fascinating if not entertaining. Individual personalities are a factor and I wonder about breed characteristics too. My Nubians always seemed to consider themselves superior to any other breed I had. :)

Leigh said...

Some days all sorts of things spook them!

Leigh said...

I'm not sure which is worse - too much rain or not enough!

Leigh said...

I have really missed having pigs these past several months. So much garden "waste" for them to eat! And last year they ate all of our butchering scraps. Considering the poor shape of our pastures though, it's just as well we don't have pigs this autumn. Not much foraging for anybody.

I feel like something of a kindred soul Donna. We were both raised in the Chicago area, both nurses in former lives, both now homesteaders, and we both like writing. How could I not help but encourage you!

Leigh said...

Yes, a spring, even a small one, is a real treasure, worth more than money! Having to redrill is tough and I'm sorry to hear that's happened in your area. I'm glad you haven't had to! Dan would like to find our old well, but so far we have only a vague idea of where it is. Our neighbor found theirs in their driveway after it became a sinkhole and tried to swallow one of their cars. They said it was dry though.

Chris said...

Living on the land, keeps you on your toes, that's for sure! I can see when people left the land, why we became more reliant on automated systems. Because we got soft, lost our intuition and couldn't survive without them.

Which is why I tend to experiment a lot in the garden. I put in one pumpkin vine which sprung up from compost pile. It didn't do so well once I transplanted it. But several others sprung up in other places, and they're doing much better. If I wasn't doing my own experiments, I wouldn't be paying attention to what else was happening. I'd be like, "oh, look, pumpkins!" and wondering when the next windfall would happen.

Living on the land, isn't always about succeeding on it. The failures and relentless bare patches, teach us how to garden better. Well done for feeding your goats the remnants of your garden. It'll make good nutrition and even better compost. :)

Goatldi said...

LOL! That is a Nubians job.

Leigh said...

Chris, I think you're right, and I think that's something some folks rarely understand. We humans tend to define success as ease, surplus, and plenty. Those of us who heed the call to live on the land have so little experiential understanding of it, and it's difficult not to have expectations in terms of how things should turn out. Most of the time Dan and I feel like we're still at the beginning, trying to figure everything out. There's much to be said for flexibility in this lifestyle!