Wednesday, March 27, 2024

notes from the goats

Betula is doing well. 

He's staying in the barn paddock with Violet and Sambucus for company until I feel confident the broken horn will not start bleeding again. So far, that has happened twice. Most recently yesterday. Meanwhile he's eating very well, resting well, and generally acting comfortable.

In other goat news, cashmere shedding is definitely underway. 

Almost as soon as combing began there was a hiatus of a few days due to suddenly very cold, very wet, very windy weather. But now it's just cold and muddy, so we can expect weeks of combing. I'll try to comb at least one goat on any day that is not raining. There's no point in trying to harvest damp cashmere.

Did I mention weather?

In the past week we've had snow, rain, freezing rain, and a world coated in ice. Then the ice started melting from every twig of every tree, and now we have mud. And that's all I'm going to say about weather.

I'm continuing to fine-tune the system for distributing chaffhaye to the goats every morning and evening.

At this point I don't have to tie every goat, every time, in order to get every goat fed, huzzah. Just some of them, most of the time. And I'm still doing individual pans, morning and evening.

If I could shift them over to free-choice feeding, it would be a lot less labor for me. I couldn't try it right at the introduction of the chaffhaye, because there would have been a few very assertive - and chunky - goats and many very hungry goats. But now that they all know there will be pans for everyone I'm experimenting by doing both: giving them each their pan of grub, and then putting out additional feed in big bins, and keeping an eye on behavior.

So yesterday I asked my Occasional Helper to leave a couple of extra 50-pound bags of chaffhaye in one of the shelters for my convenience, next to a bin in which I opened a third 50-pound bag for self-serve.

Here's what the extra bags looked like by last night:

In case my description wasn't clear: there was a bin containing a wide-open 50-pound bag of chaffhaye literally 8 inches from these "backup" bags.

The forklift operator had made small holes in these two  bags, so maybe that was considered an invitation? Or a challenge? I don't know. But once these bags are open, they must be fed out quickly. For the next couple of days I'll have to carry empty feed pans down to this shelter and fill them from these wastefully punctured bags, and then carry those full pans all over the paddocks to distribute. 

So far, this experimental free-choice supplementation has not been what one could call "a time-saver."

Oh well, everyone is eating, that's the important thing. Here we have three generations - Lily of the Valley, Tsuga, and Fern - demonstrating synchronized chewing:

And I'll close this Note from Goat World with my birch boy, Betula,

resting his chin and soaking up some vitamin D:



  1. With goats it's always something! So typical to assume that what's in the closed bags must be better than the available feed.

    1. When it comes to eating, my goats are the poster children of FOMO.

  2. So glad Betula is doing well. And interesting experiment with Chaffhaye feeding. Do you still feed regular hay?

    1. I wish! A good friend who knows all too well the regional dismal hay situation recently shared some of her hay; 3 bales from 3 different fields. The goats were clearly happy to see hay, but ate each sample very slowly even when given small amounts at one time. I worry about them not having the variety and long fiber of a mixed hay, but I don't know what I can do about it. chaffhaye is not a perfect solution for my goats, but I am SO glad I can get it.

  3. That is a lot of work. They seem to be very happy for it.

    1. Well, they are in fair weight, which is all I can ask :)

  4. Ah - sunshine. It's a lovely thing! Chunky goat - yeah, I can totally picture that! Bad goats! The iced trees were beautiful - but could do without the mud!

    1. Yes, the ice-coated branches were dazzling! I hope the buds were not damaged.

  5. The grass, so they say, is always greener on the other side of this fence (in this case chaffhaye). Who knew goats subscribed to that theory!

  6. I am glad to hear that Betula is recovering. Poor guy. I firmly believe that most animals would eat til they burst, given the chance! Except chickens who , silly as they are, can be trusted with open feeding.
    I hope the coming weather does not affect you. Looks like some wildness coming your way.


Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.