Our first livestock experiment was chickens. It looks like we got those the first year we moved out to the farm. It’s funny to think about all the things I’ve learned since our first chickens. I’m especially amused (?) by the changes in the housing. I learned that I really do want a house I can walk into…it’s much easier to maintain that way. Having a house that’s tall enough to walk into also seems to keep the chickens happier (for ventilation/circulation).
Our second livestock experiment was the pigs…in 2016. It took us a couple of years to add new animals; it looks like 2015 was the year of the dogs…oh, and stump digging. The pigs were awesome and I am really looking forward to getting a new herd this year. We’re certainly doing three, possibly four pigs this year. While the work they did turned out to not be super helpful (we learned our planned garden spot was over the drain field…not an option if we want to leave the door open for organic, among other reasons for moving it), it was fun to watch them root around. I learned a lot about not moving animals into an area until the fence is completely finished.
2017 is the year of the goats. We acquired four Nigerian dwarf goats almost two weeks ago. Meet Nanny Ogg (Nanny), “the buck,” “the little calico girl,” and “the other little girl.” As you can tell, only one has a name (they came with names, but to be honest, I’ve forgotten them). The girls are all supposed to be pregnant, but I’m waiting to see babies before we count on them. The buck is supposed to be unrelated to both the girls we have and any babies they are carrying, so we’re set for a couple of years if we decide this is a group we want to stick with.
The goats have been another lesson in fencing. I trained the goats on the stranded electric inside the field fence, just like I did the pigs. I had two strands (probably should have had three, since they kept putting their feet on the hard fence, but they don’t seem to have damaged it). I figured they’d learned about the fence a couple of days in, so I strung up some strands to about where the net is in the picture (I really wanted them to take care of the wild blueberries in that picture). The little calico girl screwed up her nerve and dashed through the fence into the newly seeded field mix. I complained a lot, put the other goats back into the hard fence pen, and had just finished asking Tony to come help me get her back in when she put herself back through the fence so she didn’t get left behind. I was relieved that this herd of goats is so cohesive…the pigs were far less concerned about being separated.
That day, I ordered two panels of electric netting. That stuff is amazing and I think that might be the lesson from the goat experiment so far: the right equipment makes the job a lot easier. It went up faster, it’s more of a deterrent for the goats, the dogs respect it (not that they really had trouble with the strands once they touched it), it went up faster (oh, did I say that already?).