Above image: when you take the goat for a walk (as one does) and the hens decide to follow you up the road.
While we have had chickens for a few months now, there is something different about having a goat (second one is on the way). As my daughter said, ‘We’re really farmers now!’ It’s like, yes, chickens are farm animals too, but they’re birds. They’re small and more easily managed and don’t head-butt you at every opportunity. In preparation for our goats, we built a small barn with a tiny corral in front of our cabins. We used instructions that I found here at gottagoat.com to build dispensers for food and minerals out of 4” PVC piping, then we built a larger corral with a shaded area on the property next door that we are renting.
The barn, like so many of our construction projects around here, started with me sketching what I wanted with some approximate measurements and my husband responding by grabbing a tape measure. This is why I love him. The barn construction is done with a metal frame (he actually bought a welder and learned to use it!), that we screwed these scrap planks that they basically give away as garbage at the lumber mill to, attached to a cement pad. Later, the framework is there to build a loft, but for now it is being used to store excess wood and metal. We sanded all the debris off the planks and put a quick coat of varnish on it to keep it from getting moldy in our ridiculously high humidity.
There is a pretty high learning curve for goats. For instance, after our first day with Cleo, I had to Google what to do when your goat won’t stop butting you. Turns out that goats have pretty rigid ideas about herd dominance and that you have to show then that you are the herd queen. Also, goats are jerks.
This particular goat was previously owned by our neighbours. They used to leave her with a short lead attached to a pole somewhere along our little road so she could graze. Unfortunately, this resulted in her being teased and tormented by all the kids in the village and, as a result, she is skittish and fearful with some of us and angry with the others. I am hoping this changes after a few weeks of unconditional goat-love and us getting her a playmate. (A note on that: We picked up Cleo on Sunday, her new friend was supposed to be here Monday. Today is Thursday. Just another reminder that “tomorrow” has no meaning in Costa Rica!). Tomorrow (really ‘tomorrow’, not Costa Rica tomorrow), we go see a vet in the city about buying goat semen to we can impregnate our goat and get closer to all the delicious cheese-and-yogurt-making. I am not kidding. As I said, the learning curve is steep.
But each step takes us closer to the self-sufficient lifestyle we are wanting, so it is worth it. I think. Stay tuned as I do my best to figure out how to keep my goats healthy holistically, even when they are pregnant and cranky. If you have any tips for me, please leave them below.