I just noticed that it has been almost a week since my last post! I apologize for such a delay!
Well, the time finally came for the goats to permanently move out of the pig pen. The pigs are getting too big and too aggressive. They’re starting to bite and we are concerned that they will injure one of the goats. Not only that, but one of the pigs was walking with a limp, the other day. We think she may have been seriously butted by one of the boys. She’s fine now, but we don’t want one of the girls (the pigs are all female) to get seriously injured.
We tried just letting the goats have run of the big yard; that lasted all of a few days. But they really loved it, while it lasted! We were having an issue with them coming onto the porch. They could get over or around any barrier that we tried. They even figured out how to out-maneuver the hotwire! Knowing that they don’t like to be wet, I decided to try a little experiment. As soon as I heard hooves on the porch, I would open the door and squirt him (it was always Ray) with the squirt bottle that we use on the cats. It worked! The goats don’t like to be squirted with water! It really wasn’t much of a deterrent; but it got him off the porch quickly! I didn’t have to fight with pulling or pushing him down the steps; it was so nice!
Unfortunately, the goats were being mean to Thumper. So, for Thumper’s safety, we dismantled the mobile pen and used some of the panels to cordon off a large section of the big yard, exclusively for them. This way, Thumper can go outside and not have to live in fear of the horn-ed ones.
Though, it’s his own fault, really… They had an uneasy truce going; but Thumper decided that he needed go off chasing Frank, barking at him. Well, naturally, this turned him into a predator, in their eyes; and he was no longer safe. They actually got to where they’d tag-team Thumper. He’d go around a bush in one direction, one goat would follow him and the other goat would go around the bush in the opposite direction. This put Thumper right between them, to get hit from two sides. Not fun! And eventually, he refused to go off the porch, at all. The poor thing had to be put on a leash and taken out front, to relieve himself!
So, now everyone has their own slice of the yard and it’s good! We put a gate between two of the panels, so I can go in and out easily. This is a good thing, because I cut the heck out of both hands, trying to handle the panel and the marauding goats! Those panels have some sharp edges! But now I can go in and out to visit, feed, pet, love, trim and generally hang out. It’s nice!
One of our friends built another three-sided shelter for them, today. The one in the pig pen has posts that are sunk in the ground, so it can’t be moved. But that’s okay, the pigs need shelter, too. This second shelter is smaller than the first, but it’s big enough for both boys to go in and lay down. They can stand and turn around in there, but not get up on hind legs (much) while inside. With this shelter, the back is lower to the ground, so they are able to jump up on it. It was great fun watching them play King of the Castle, today!
I used my new dagging shears and cut a bunch of fur off of Frank today. He hasn’t been handled much, recently, so he was a little reluctant to let me do it for very long; but I persisted. We had several short sessions and I was able to get one side almost completely trimmed. On the other side, I was able to shorten the length of the fleece and trim the loose areas around the edges. Maybe I can get some pictures (and more trimming) tomorrow.
We’ve been discussing getting a guard animal to live with the boys. The conversation was prompted by the offer of three miniature donkeys. I vetoed the idea of the donkeys, but it got me thinking. We do have coyotes in the neighborhood and while we have decent fencing (and hotwire), I’m sure it wouldn’t stop a determined coyote.
I did some research on guard animals and I think that the best for us would be a llama. I have not done any research into llama husbandry, so I have no idea how much work they are, but I know that they eat the same food as the goats. That will be one less worry, because goats are pretty cheap eaters! As an added benefit, llamas oftentimes have long fur that needs to be trimmed. Perfect! I can have llama to spin with my goat fur!
We may not need a guardian, right now. But certainly, next year, when we increase our herd, we will want something. Especially if we have kids, which we do plan to have, eventually. Next year we will get does, with the intention of breeding. Though the breeding may happen the year after next. We’ll definitely want a guardian, when we have kids – if not sooner.
So, I need to do some research into llama husbandry and start getting us prepared for that venture!