It’s been a long time since my last farm post. As I’m just wrapping up a major project, I figure now is a good time to provide an update. When we first bought the farm, we thought our primary activity was going to be goats. After doing some research on difficulty of raising goats, market for goats, etc we decided to go with cattle – they are WAY easier than goats. However, we knew that we still wanted to try goats some day.
Earlier this year (Jan?), my wife took the dive and bought a pregnant dairy goat. She had 2 kids. Kim milked the mother goat for several months and then ultimate sold her due to an udder defect that was going to cause problems. Now she keeps a friend’s yard free of weeds
Ultimately our goal is to have a dozen or two goats – mostly meat goats. Having started down the path with a couple of goats, it triggered the need to start thinking about how we were going to keep the goats. Here’s the two goats we have now and our two livestock guardian dogs. The goats are Sandstone and Sapphire and the dogs are Achilles and Artemis.
I did a bunch of research… The first issue is the fence. Goats are notoriously hard on fences – escape all the time, break them, etc. A friend of mine said “if water can’t get under it and a giraffe can’t get over it, it will hold goats”. So last winter, I fenced in about 3-4 acres with a pretty heavy duty fence – posts every 12 feet, woven wire and high tensile electrical to keep the goats off the fence. That was a big project – a lot of posts. Plus I hit rock along one stretch of about 12 posts that required me to break up about 12 inches of rock in each post hole. I think each of those holes took me about an hour.
The second issue is housing. Goats require shelter. I need a place to keep feed and hay, etc. A couple of months ago, I finally started getting started on housing. All told it took about 15 days of work (spread over a couple of months) to build – yes, I know I over engineered it but I’m an engineer at heart. It took 2 days just to set the 18 posts and get them all reasonably aligned.
I took some pictures of the project as it progressed. I’d have like to have taken a picture at the end of every day that I worked to show a nice time lapse, but I just didn’t remember to do it.
The first picture is about 3 days into it. That’s me leaning over and cutting the board, my son in the green shirt and a friend who helped me for a couple of days.
Here’s the nearly finished barn. The only things missing are the hay rack I built along the back wall this weekend and the paint which is currently in progress. The barn is about 16 feet deep and 40 feet long. It should house up to about 30 goats (if I ever get that many).
One part of building this has been a real experience. If you look in the first picture you can actually see the new barn in the background. It’s actually in the same field as the goats – so I had help building the barn. Help knocking down boards; help getting manure all over my material; help eating nails and screws; help chewing on boards while I was trying to cut them; help climbing on top of roof tin while it was on saw horses and folding it in half – you know goat help. Goats are very cool, curious and friendly animals but I’ve learned that trying to build anything in the field with them is an exercise in futility. I eventually had to take them up to our main barn and put them in a stall because it was just too difficult to continue with them “helping”.
Sometimes I think I bought a farm just so I have a good excuse to build stuff It’s been fun but I actually am looking forward to getting some more goats. Despite the helping, they are cool animals. That should happen early next spring.
Until then, enjoy!