After spending a year with our chickens and loving every minute of it, hubs and I have decided to expand our homestead horizon and venture into getting goats. Why goats? As my interest and knowledge of homesteading grows, I've found that goats are actually quite useful -- and so stinkin cute! And call me "old-fashioned" (please), but I am hoping to use the milk for ice cream, cheese, butter, and soap.
Although hubs and I are both eager to get our goats, the process has proved to be somewhat cumbersome. We have been talking about our goat plans since last fall, but this winter we found out that we are expecting our second child at the end of August. And as exciting as it is to be expanding our family, it has changed my summer plans for expanding our homestead a bit, and that included getting goats. My mind immediately focused on the list of projects I wanted to complete inside the home to prepare for the baby.
I had big plans for our garden this year, but decided that weeding in 80-degree weather when I can barely bend over to tie my shoe did not sound like a grand idea (so I'll be visiting the local Amish auction house to purchase my preserving supplies this year). But Gabe was very adamant about getting the goats, even though I tried to argue that next summer might be a better time.
So I began my research and found the best website for advice and the how-to's of goat ownership. Then I began my search for our goats and Gabe began building our goat pin (with Brodey's help of course).
After searching on Craigslist, I found a couple two-year-old LaMancha does at a decent price and was in communications with the owner, and everything was going well until last week. You see I had received pictures the girls (as I referred to them), but none of them were close-ups, and I didn't deem it necessary to drive out to the farm and see them first-hand. Big mistake.
A week before our arranged pick up, I received a good close-up shot of one of the girls (see pic on right). I was shocked! I didn't realize that girl goats could have horns. At first I decided that the horns would be okay and the deal was still on, but then I did some more research and fact-finding and I realized that I did not want horns. In fact, there were a few other things about these goats that became less appealing. I was informed that they may be pregnant too! So the deal was off. I don't want pregnant goats that might be temperamental with those horns.
So we continued our search and are looking at a couple of other options, but I am finding that getting the goats we want is not going to be easy. After researching and starting the process of getting goats here is what I've learned and what to look for. Hopefully it will help someone else who is as green to goats as me:
1) Do your research on the different breeds of goats that are out there. I had no idea that there so many kinds! Your breed selection will be based on your needs (i.e. Are you looking for just a pet? How much land do you have? Do you want goats milk?) I have decided on LaManchas and I want two does.
2) Don't get a buck for your first goat, or ever, unless you plan to breed.
3) Don't just get one goat. They are social animals and they need companionship. If you plan to get a goat, plan to at least get two.
4) If you are planning to milk, be sure that you get a goat that has good udders and comes from a good line of milk producers.
5) Don't get a goat with horns. I really thought this one through. I have a four-year-old and I want him to be able to help with the goats. I'm aware that they can be temperamental without horns,but it is just common sense that hornless goats are safer for myself and my family (and the other goats).
6) Goats can live a long time (10-20 yrs.) and they develop habits. Therefore, I want a young goat that we can grow with. Not one that has already formed bad habits and won't be enjoyable for us.
This is just a short list of the main things that I've discovered. I encourage you to do your own research on the subject if you are planning to get goats, or any animal for that matter. While it is enjoyable to own animals, it's important that you take good care of them; and you cant do that if you don't learn about them. That's just common sense.
Wish me luck in our search! Hopefully, I can report that we have found what were looking for soon.
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