Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Goats Have Arrived and I Am Exhausted

They are here. We are the owners of two 6-week old Nigerian Dwarf doelings. I brought them home on Monday in a jury-rigged dog kennel. We let them out into the dog run, which is now officially the goat run, and run they did. They ran straight to the other side of the yard and squeezed through the 6" square gaps in the fence. Then they screamed because they were nervous and separated. Maybe you have seen that YouTube video of goats yelling like humans. I can assure you it is not dubbed.

Clementine the goat. She is small but feisty.
It took Big Sister and I thirty minutes to catch the goats. We caught one right away and used it as bait to lure the other one into the chicken coop. Since the chicken coop was the only space on our property from which they couldn't escape they had to spend the night in there. Needless to say, the chickens were not excited. In fact, most of them found alternative sleeping arrangements that night. (I found three on the roof of my house far from the screaming goats.)

Peering out at me from their dog house shelter.
At around 9:00 pm we tried giving them their first bottle. These babies had been with their mamas since birth and had never laid eyes on a baby bottle before. They did NOT want the bottles. Mr. Chanclas and I ended up with more milk on our clothes than we actually got into the goats. I felt like I needed a La Leche League leader for moral support.

Exploring the yard together
The next morning I frantically drove to the nearest Tractor Supply store to buy a roll of fencing. I had carefully researched my options and decided on a 200 foot roll of 2"x4" horse fencing made with woven wire. I was a little alarmed when the man put it into my van with a forklift. "I'm not going to be able to get that out of the van by myself, am I?" Turns out I couldn't even lift one end of it, much less maneuver it out of the van. So much for building fence by myself.  When I got home I moved on to Plan B, which was to piece together a temporary yard using old pallets, a shed roof, two cattle panels, one T-post salvaged from the trash, a lot of zip ties, and two old bungee cords. Score!

This one is really sweet and quieter than the other one.

While I was at Tractor Supply looking at the selection of goat nipples and milk replacer a nice man shopping there said to me, "You must have baby goats at home." I turned to him with a desperate look in my eye and proceeded to extract a good five minutes' worth of goat information out of him. He had raised baby goats last year but his real experience was with lambs. Thank you, Mr. Goat and Lamb Man. I hope I didn't scare you. He, like everybody else, recommended I try Pritchard nipples for feeding my goaties. I bought some. They look like this:

The Pritchard nipples are sized to screw onto an empty soda bottle. Very handy, you say. Well, we don't drink soda and apparently neither do any of my neighbors. So when evening fell I was scrambling to find a soda bottle for the 9pm goat feeding. My neighbor J said she would have her husband pick one up on his way home from work. Wonderful! At about 9:00 I was sitting in the living room talking to Mr. Chanclas when J's face popped up outside the window. (We have enormous windows and no curtains.) She had ridden her bike down the road in the dark with a soda bottle full of what appeared to be lemonade and vodka. I love my neighbors.

The goats liked the Pritchard nipple much better than the baby bottle I had tried before. Apparently goats like long, skinny nipples. Don't even get me started on that. They still aren't drinking much milk from the bottle but they are taking a little bit and they are eating hay, grain pellets, and the grass. Their poop looks normal and they are peeing so I think they are okay. Baby goats really shouldn't be weaned until at least eight weeks of age but you can make it work at six if you have to. In retrospect, I should have left them with their mamas for two more weeks. The older they are the harder it is to teach them to use a bottle.

Goat poop, also known as "nannyberries", is quite innocuous
So what are their names? We still aren't sure. The brown one seems to be Clementine and the black and brown one is generating a lot of discussion. I will report back soon with names!


  1. Wheeeeeeeee! It's fun from over here! ;)

  2. Black and brown feels like a Gustaf to me.
    I remember hearing someone once tell me that if it can hold water it can hold goats.
    Seems to be a little true for your little ones.

    By the way - they are so cute! It's always a steep learning curve but it'll smooth out in no time!


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