Monday, March 23, 2009

Hard Lessons Learned

Some days I wonder if I am cut out for country life. Today is one of those days. I was thrilled about the arrival of my goats. I woke up yesterday morning and had the tingle in my stomach like it was Christmas day. I went outside to see them as soon as I could. Although, they weren't really thrilled to see me, since they are wild. I sat outside the shed where they had decided to hide and talked to them. They seemed to kind of enjoy me speaking to them, but they showed no signs of wanting to come out and see me.

Later in the day Jason comes in and reports that one of the goats has escaped.
Me: "What? How?"
Jason: "I don't know"
Jason spent three hours driving through the nearby creek bed and the surrounding pastures. No sign of her. We removed a fraction of a 2 by 4 hanging from a post that we assumed the goat jumped onto, then onto the roof of their living quarters, and then to freedom. We figured that this would eliminate the possibility of the other goat escaping.

We went to town and bought sweet feed, hoping to attract our wayward goat back to its new home. I was hopeful. When we returned home, the second goat was gone too.
Me: "Are you sure she is gone, Jason?"
Jason: "Yes, I am sure."

Less than twenty-four hours since I had gotten the goats and they were gone. Their pen consisted of five-foot "cow panels" about the best fencing that money can buy. They still escaped. The pen where they were being held at the place from which we purchased them was not nearly as well constructed, or as tall as the confines we had made for them. So, we were falsely confident that they couldn't leave.

It turns out that the goats had been allowed to roam free on 160 acres. They only came up to their former owner's home to eat at night. They were never handled, except to be moved. They were only penned to be morons like us. From what I have read....... a bit too late, you can't keep a goat unless it wants to be kept. The tame goats are bottle-fed from the beginning and identify their owners as family. These goats were wild as hell. They will not likely come back. I have hope that they will assimilate into a nearby cattle heard, so that they will survive. It's a terrible thought, but a lone goat is no match for a coyote pack.

I feel responsible for them. I feel terrible that they got out, and that I failed at keeping them safe. Fortunately they escaped before I had time to become emotionally bonded to them. We will only by newborn goats from now on. I am still getting some baby goats within the next couple weeks. I have a twinge of hope that my wild goats will be returned, as every farmer within twenty miles has been made aware of their existence.

Antonio, my beloved rooster, has been missing since Saturday. The ornery little turd went down to the creek bed (beyond our property) and has not been seen or heard since. He is too dumb to run from anything. He used to challenge my 100 pound dog, so I fear the worst for him. All of my other poultry is accounted for, but not him. It's not as much fun collecting eggs without having to fight off his attacks with a stick. I miss him.

The only reason that I agreed to move to the middle of nowhere, without a Target, or Kohl's within a reasonable drive was because I was promised lots of animals. I wouldn't care if my chickens stopped laying eggs tomorrow. They are my pets. I wouldn't care if we never yielded as much as a drop of goat's milk. I would just like to have a goat that I could call my friend. We have lived on our property for almost a year, and we are still learning a lot about having a hobby farm. Even though I am down about the loss of my goats and my rooster, the farm lives on. My bevy of hens are still in the yard eating bugs. My elusive barn cat is still lurking....somewhere. My dogs are still hunting mice in the woodpile. The horses are still soliciting me for treats. I hope that one day Jason and I will sit around and laugh about our first year on our little acreage and all the things that went wrong.


Alabaster Mom said...

Aw, Audrey, I am so sorry about Antonio and the goats. I think you are right about the difference between hand-raised goats and the ones you got. If you look at these photos from "The Farm" you can see that the goats were barely contained at all - just three wooden slats?!

That Nora Girl said...

Oh no! Audrey, I am so sorry about your goats and roosters. Hugs to you.

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails said...

We had that stuff happen all the time on our farm when I was growing up and remember being so upset about it each time. I did not help that my dad would just tell me it was part of farm life, I did not care they were my animals! Hang in there and chalk it up to lessons learned.

Audreee said...

Thanks for making me feel better, girls.
I have seen goats held in by FAR LESS than what we had. Thanks for the picture to subsatntiate that assumption.
Gentri, I'm glad that I'm not the only emotional country-girl.

Mainegirl/Pauline said...

:o( & I wasn't going to eat them...

So sorry about your kids!