Two years strong and planning for our first CSA

We have reached our two year anniversary!

We have done so much and learnt a huge amount in the process. People have been absolutely wonderful and supportive with the journey we’ve had and the philosophy we follow. It has been great to see just how excited children (and quite often, their parents) are when they come for a visit, with our little goats being the highlight for most.

Now that the weather it turning for Winter, we have let the chooks take over the garden patch … and I can tell you that 60 ish birds can strip half an acre VERY quickly. They’ve done a great job clearing out all the slugs and critters while liberally spreading their leavings without me having to do so. Win-win!

Reflecting back on the last year, I would say that I regretted not installing a more robust irrigation system … something worth remediating this Autumn.

Even though the season is coming to an end, with our online sales stopping, we have kicked off the planning of a Community Supported Agriculture programme or CSA. Check it out on our page Our 2016 Spring-Summer CSA. Now that we have a comfortable crop rotation happening and have identified what crops we will be offering as part of the CSA, there is a whole raft of communications, information packs, labels and packaging that needs to be organised and sourced.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this little geek of a farmer happy. All I can hope is that everyone has the bravery and opportunity to follow their dream. For me, it took several years of planning, lots or research and even more mistakes, an appreciation of the small things that are on offer from people and a truely amazingly patient husband to get me there.

Even though my hubby seriously dislikes my goats, his assistance in all things mechanical or powered by a motor has seen me recover quickly from my bouts of frustration when things need fixing or (usually) I’m stuck unable to start the darn thing.

Thank you everyone.

The story of our little goat herd and Piccolo … a Saanen kid with a broken heart.

We love our goats here. They are moved onto fresh pasture daily … sometimes twice daily depending on the quality of feed available. We started in March with out first rescue goat Pixie. She is a miniature feral who’s Mum was taken from her straight after weaning. She was frightened and was looking for comfort when she came over to us. She bonded with us immediately and has since been taught to use a lead rope … with some treats for persuasion of course!

Little Pixie
Little Pixie learning to use a lead rope

Two months later, Thunderhorn was left behind by his Mum when he was 4 days old. He was a stubborn feeder and refused to feed for 5 days solid until we used real goats milk and a silicone nipple. He learned to groom himself after being taught by our cat. It was a sight to behold!

Baby Thunderhorn
Baby Thunderhorn cuddling

Four weeks later, Limpit was rescued from a dog attack. He was going to be put down, so the owner gave him to us. His muscles were severely torn and he could not walk other than a couple stumbling steps. For his first week with us, he slept in the goat house and nibbled on the straw bedding. Then for the second week, we had to move him out into the pasture every morning. From week two to six, he slowly recovered, starting to limp around on his “knees” … hence the name. Now you wouldn’t know he had serious injury except for the fact that he does not jump and frolic like the other goats …. he’s much more sedate.

Only two weeks following the rescue of Limpit, Nightmaid joined us. She was a little black kid around one month younger than Thunderhorn …. so we had two kids on the bottle now! She was not as fussy as Thunderhorn, and took the bottle at the first feed.

Four weeks later, we bought Fawn (Saanen cross), Mrs Moo (Fresian coloured cross), Tinkle (miniature feral) and Mrs. Moo’s baby (which has since been named Socks).

New goat herd
New goat herd; (L-R) Fawn, Tinkle,, Mrs Moo, Socks and Nightmaid.

Six weeks later, we rescued eleven little goats in a 2 week period. They were all runts who could not follow their Mum. The reason there were so many abandonments was two fold; firstly, the majority of the goats were first time Mum’s and not as patient, secondly a neighbour’s dogs had recently taken to the sport of attacking the goats … they have since been dealt with. But this made all the goats very skittish and a lot of the baby’s could not keep up with a fast moving herd.

Four of the babies had their Mum come around to look for them and were re-accepted. Four were re-homed after being taught how to drink from a bottle, and the remaining three have stayed with us. Lots of little mouths to feed now!

Bottle feeding goats; (L-R) Shadow, Meatball and Nebula
Bottle feeding goats; (L-R) Shadow, Meatball and Nebula

This brings us to Piccolo. We were contacted by a frantic owner from Wollongong who had recently bought three pure bred Saanen kids a little over a week ago. They were given some vague instructions by the owner and sent on their way. Two of the kids were just over two weeks old and the other was just over 3 weeks old.

It turns out, that on the day the goats were handed over, they were de-horned (not dis-budded), had castration rings fitted and been taken away from their Mum’s. These little guys were essentially sent to a new home in shock and without any bottle training! After a week of struggling with bottle feeding, and the little goats getting obviously weaker, the two smallest one’s died. The third one, Piccolo, was failing fast. After visits to the vet and a diagnosis of “failure to thrive”, we received a phone call asking for help.

During our first meeting, we ascertained that the small amount of milk he was ingesting was still being digested … which was a great sign. So he came to us very thin, almost unable to stand and constantly shivering. He had burned off most of his brown fat and was on the verge of giving up.

We treated him like a new born: Feeding every 3 hours, warm jackets and blankets to sleep on, he bedded down in the warm greenhouse and was constantly in contact with us and our scent. He was being force fed through a free-flowing teat and he stopped shivering constantly after 36 hours, which was the first sign to us, that he had a chance. Feeding was a messy task as he fought taking the bottle, but necessary.

For 3 days, there were very few improvements, but on day thee, he suckled! We had added real goat milk to his bottle and it seemed to be what he wanted. On day 4, we substituted the teat from free-flowing to a silicone suckling teat … and he has been guzzling ever since! His first feed on his own took 25 mins. He was not able to suckle for long periods and had to take lots of breaks … but he did it!

By the end of the first week with us, he was suckling like a champion and down to three solid feeds per day. He started to gain weight and even frolicked a little. We introduced him to the rest of our herd and he even spent the night cuddled up with them. Perfect!

His owners were kept abreast of his progress and after the traumatic experience of the two little one’s dying on them, decided to ask me to find a home for him … which we did!

A neighbour down the road from us wanted a pet goat for their children to raise. When they came for a visit, Piccolo walked straight up to one of the Mum’s and asked for a cuddle by rubbing his head on her leg … she fell in love with him! They went home, built a house for him and came over the next day to collect him.

Enjoy your new home Piccolo. It was wonderful to watch you recover into such a loving little goat. We will come to visit you regularly.

Piccolo's new owners are very excited!
Piccolo’s new owners are very excited!