I have been wanting to increase my goat herd of late. We lost several very old goats, as happens when you have livestock, and I would love to have a few more. I love my dairy goat boys but wanted more Angora goats for the mohair and because they always make me smile.
Early last week I got a goat crisis email from Judith Katzman. I had never met Judith before but we have corresponded. She and Cynthia Lurex are my shearing buddies. Our wonderful shearer, Stephen Franco, drives over from west Texas to shear all of our goats in the spring and fall. The three of us touch base twice a year to verify which days will work for shearing. I have been to Cynthia's ranch but I never knew where Judith was located other than in this general region of Texas. Turns out she is just up the road from me in Industry, Texas.
Judith's wonderful livestock guardian dog, Apollo, was hit by a car and killed. She is completely brokenhearted about it. Her three goats were now in jeopardy from the coyotes that Apollo kept at bay and she was looking for a new home for them. I offered her two of my guard llamas but she and her husband are at a point where they are interested in downsizing, not adding totally new species to their farm. I totally understand. I'm not at that point quite yet but I can see it coming towards me in a few years.
I drove over to Judith's last Thursday to pick up three lovely if ancient ladies. Star is 16 years old. Holy cow! For a goat that is amazingly old. Her daughter Melei is a spritely 8 years old as is Morha. When I got there all three goats were in a small pen ready for the great adventure of coming to my house. Catching each goat was pretty easy but leading/dragging them to the back of my truck was a bit more difficult as none of them had been lead often. We managed to get them all into the goat box and Judith said her goodbyes. Judith was happy and sad, just as you would expect in the situation and goats were slightly shell shocked.
Our first stop was the vet clinic. We ran fecals on all three goats, treated Star for parasites and each one got a CDT and rabies shot. Then it was home to my house.
I knew when we let these ladies loose in a pasture there would be no catching them again until they were used to us. That would take some time. Maybe a month or so? That's how long they need to be quarantined before we could let them in with my herd. I drove the truck into the pasture, closed the gate and we let them go. Star we picked up and gently put on the ground. Morha and Melei came cautiously out of the goat box and launched themselves into the air. When all three were on the ground they headed off to the far end of the pasture.
I was worried because there is no shelter or water down there and they showed no interest in coming back up to the top of the pasture where there is everything they might need. The pasture fencing is solid so they were safe but I was worried none the less. We took food and water down there to them but were thrilled when they decided to come back up to the top of the pasture.
We put they girls in their pasture Thursday afternoon. Friday afternoon Peggy and I drove up to Tyler to see her mother and sisters for the weekend. We were back by dark on Sunday but that left Ron by himself with our new goats for a couple of days. All of them did just fine.
On Saturday evening Ron saw Star leading the girls up to the top of the pasture to get her beet pulp and we figured they would be fine. They stay around the shelter now but wander the entire length of the pasture during the day. Star spends most of her time on the nice soft hay in the shelter but she is getting up and down fine and peeks out around the corner to see what is going on.
I finally took the dog out with me to feed Monday night (Ron had chosen not to while I was in Tyler) and she squeezed herself right through the gate once she say the girls. I grabbed a lead rope and caught her – she was standing in the opening of the shelter and barking and barking at Star. Star stood stock still in the corner while Sadie was going crazy. Sadie only wants to chase and doesn’t understand when animals stand still. She doesn’t want to catch anything – just get them running. The cats figured her out really quickly, the llamas walk towards her which really freaks her out. My goats are the only animals on the place that always run from her which only encourages her to chase them. It’s why we keep fortifying gates and fences because it makes me crazy when she chases any of my animals. So Star did exactly what she should have. She stood still and looked calmly at Sadie. After I took Sadie back to the house I apologized to Star and told her we would be putting fencing up on the gate to keep her and the girls safe from my crazy dog.
In general, all three girls skitter away from us although Tuesday morning while Ron was putting the wire on the gate, Morha walked right up within 4 feet of him and calmly ate her breakfast. It's only been 6 days and already they are slowly getting used to us, I think.