Into our first winter. 3 nannies pregnant.
I wouldn't get attached to the goats you may see featured in my blog. Part of the reason I got them was because I was tired of paying shipping costs ordering goat meat from California.
I realize some of you have a problem with that and I'm sorry we disagree. But I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain to just eat vegetables. And goats are the most widely eaten animal on the planet.
The deal I make is to give my livestock a comfortable life and, if it comes down to it, a quick, humane death. These animals are not pets. They have a job to do and the final act in their employment will be a trip to the freezer. The working conditions are great, the retirement plan is a little unpleasant.
Replacing Your Lawn Mower
The question I started out to answer is if it would be possible to use grazing animals to keep brush under control and essentially fire my lawn mower. So far the lawn mower and the brush cutter are still on the payroll, but there is a glimmer of change and both have been running a lot less this summer. Since it currently costs $20 bucks to fill up my lawn mower, the savings are not insignificant. Plus, I was starting to feel like a part-time grounds keeper. I'd work all day, then come home and start my second job as an unpaid lawn maintenance guy. A really, really bad lawn guy with the unfortunate handicap of not being able to grow grass. But I had a virtual museum of lawn weeds. Dandilions, wild onion, field grass, crab grass...you name it, it grew here. I'd dump fertilizer and chemicals by the pound in an effort to tame the wild landscape, scatter grass seed by the bag just to watch it make little or no difference.
And the brush clearing. That was tough. Grinding away for hours with a chain saw cutting willows that would grow back like something out of an alien invasion movie.
There had to be a better way.
Contained in these pages are the learning experiences I went through, some of them painful, some of the funny, some painful but still funny, all faithfully recounted in the blog page. The good, the not so good. What works and what doesn't and the sometimes gritty reality of owning livestock.
Owning goats is like hosting a frat party. They'll climb on anything they can scale, trash anything nice you try to make for them and when you really need them for something they'll be asleep.
What I started with
I started with 9 acres with a pond that's completely on the property. No fence, no utility buildings on land that had been abandoned for nine months while the property was in foreclosure. I'd show you pictures of the rest of it, but it all looked pretty much like this and you can see how it looks now in the videos.
It took six months to get the weeds under control. Then the real work started.
How it looks today
And this is what it looks like now. A year later we have 16 healthy goats with several more on the way. This transformation was 90% goats and 10% brush cutter. The area in the picture has not been mowed once this year and it's now June. I will have to mow it once or twice, but on a normal year I'd be on the fourth cutting already. The place looks like this with no chainsaw, no chemicals, no back-breaking land clearing. And they provide meat that's lower in fat and calories than skinless chicken and tastes delicious. Goats for the win.
If someone ever askes you to help fence 9 acres, run and hide.
They look cute but inside beats a heart of pure evil. Okay, maybe not pure evil, but certainly a healthy dose of evil.
Hobby farming: It's not for everyone.
Any equipment mentioned here are the actual items I selected for the job. That does not necessarily constitute an endorsement. It also does not mean it was the right choice in hindsight. Part of the purpose here is so you don't repeat my mistakes. The opinions expressed here are my own and should not reflect on vendors, customers or anyone else who may not be me.