Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Bad Goats

       Last Saturday (May 8th) I worked at the bee store until about 4:30 p.m., then hurried home for a family dinner and combined birthday celebration for our May birthdays ( My son James, grandaughter Abby, and grandson James, aka Boo). We had children and grandchildren visiting and it promised to be a good time.  However, the party was literally crashed by our two goats who picked that particular day to discover the weakness of the old green gate to their pen.  At some point earlier that day they realized that the gate was on the verge of failing.  They then spent the next several hours butting the gate until it finally gave way.  I arrived home with dinner ready and our two caprine escapees tied up in our former raspberry patch. 

      After a somewhat short family dinner and singing of happy birthday I spent the remainder of the waning daylight hastily constructing a new gate for the goat pen.  Fortunately I had on hand a fairly stout pallet made of inch thick plywood and 4x4 oak.  As the daylight turned to dusk I was putting the last few screws in the new and improved goat pen gate.  The only down side to the new gate is it's lack of a few coats of bright green paint like the old gate had.  I think the pallet had been used for some heavy piece of machinery as it seemed to be very stout.  After I had re-installed the goats into their pen, their first order of business was to test the strength of the new gate.  After each goat had given the gate of few butts, they reached the conclusion that the new gate was no pushover and went back to eating the bark off the trees in their pen.

    The goats' confinement in the former raspberry patch, now overgrown by blackberries, was intended to keep them from further mischief until such time that I could replace the gate.  Left to their own devices goats have an unhealthy inclination to eat things like rhododendrons that are poisonous. From a goat's perspective their confinement in the erstwhile raspberry patch was actually a nice reward.   They are perpetually hungry and always act they haven't eaten for days.  By the time I finished the new gate, the raspberry patch was somewhat less overgrown by blackberries. We've started staking the goats out during the day so they can do some blackberry removal for us. They are so enthusiastic about this activity that we literally have to drag them back to their pen at the end of the day.

      I'm currently working on enlarging the goat pen to several times larger than it's current size. I have several goals in this. My first goal is to harness their ravenous appetites in the removal of the blackberries on a portion of our property.  My second goal is to spend less time and money feeding the goats. I purchased 100 yards of appropriately strong fencing material a few weeks ago, but I haven't had sufficient free time to get the job done.  About all I've done so far is to set a few of the fence posts. The goats require fairly strong fencing as they like to place their front hooves on the wire in order to gain a bit more altitude. A good part of the fencing I used in the goat pen is some welded wire that I got on the cheap at a garage sale.  The welded wire tends to separate when the goats place their hooves on the horizontal strands of wire. The new fencing material is a thcker gauge wire that is twisted rather than welded.

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