Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Found Them! - Two Goats and a Big Puppy!

Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart and was weary to the bone. It felt like I had so many prayers out to Heaven that I myself couldn't even keep them straight. I went to bed with the hope of a ray of light to catch on to in the morning to keep me going.

Well, I think Father may have blessed me with a few rays of light. And I need to share them before the weight of life clouds them out.

It's not new news that we have been pondering what our hopes and goals are for our own little homestead. And if you read my last post you read about my desire to raise goats. Well, We've found our first Doelings.  I feel a tiny bit like a mother who's been waiting and trying to adopt for months and I've just got the call asking if I can be ready for them in TWO DAYS!!... The answer: YES!
Picture Picture

Sorry the puppies picture won't copy here. Just think of a yellow lab pup but fluffier hair. :)

There is a common understanding among goat owners that when you put your heart in to looking for your own herd of goats you will look at hundreds of goats and when you find "YOUR" goat, you just Know. It is so true for me! It sounds strange. But it's true!

Goats can be expensive. If you want to sell your baby goats for anything other then brush clearing or meat you need to be sure that the blood line is healthy and preferably Purebred; and  Registered is even better. The breeds of goats that we've decided on range from $400 for a Registered goat to $175 for a Purebred non-papered.

You also have to decide whether you want a baby goat or an adult goat. And then decide if you want a bottle fed goat or a mother fed goat. And of course, if you want a Male or Female. We were considering either babies or adults. But they had to have been bottle babies. We learned with our borrowed goats, Billy and Skit, that we much preferred the bottle babies! They respond to humans far easier then mother fed goats. We also knew that we want Females. The Males really do smell terrible!! We will find a handsome stud for our girls when the time comes for them to be mommies. :)

So, with all of those things to consider, you can imagine why it is hard to pass up "your" goat when you find them. I swore I wouldn't get goats for the winter!  I truly meant that when I said it. But something kept us looking. And then a predator started snatching up our hens one after another when we weren't around (just this past week.) So we started seriously considering getting our Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). But if you get a LGD puppy who you want to protect your goats some day you have to have goats when you get the puppy. Any animal (or human) that the puppy is around before they turn 12 weeks old they will consider their flock or their herd. The ones they will protect and care for. LGD's are an amazing breed of dogs.  They are also a small investment. They range from $250 to $100. But almost any other dog breed will be a nightmare on a farm for one reason or another.

SOOO, When I woke up this morning and I got on craigslist for the thousandth time and found two beautiful Purebred Nubian Doelings: Currently bottle feeding, de-horned, first shots, they come with a gallon of their moms milk AND their next vial of vaccine shot,  for only $125, I just Knew!! ...  And THEN, we found an adorable LGD puppy ready to go this weekend for only $100. Again, we just Knew!

I felt so good about everything as we squared everyone's pick up dates and times. It felt so right... And then the day moved on and life happened and doubt and worry crept in. It's so hard sometimes to make these big decisions. There is never enough money, we all understand that these days. If you don't, be grateful tonight. But for us, every penny counts! So I had to sit down tonight and ask myself what the financial benefit is of this investment. To remind myself of the plan.

The plan is to raise the doelings and the puppy (who is also female) until they are breeding age. Which is around 9 months old for the goats and around two years for the dog. Once they are breeding age we will sell their babies as well as gradually establish our ideal goat herd and breed the different types of goats we're looking for. Goats usually have 2-4 babies at a time. LGD dogs can have 10-14 pups in a litter. So they will eventually pay for themselves and more. In the meantime, I am planning on working with the goats to see if they are Cart Friendly goats. If not, we'll retain one or two of the baby boy goats, neuter them, and then train them to pull carts and wagons. After the female goats give birth we can also milk them and sell their milk. But I don't see me doing that. But you never know.

This has turned out to be a VERY long post! I obviously really needed to think this through. :)  But forgive me because I still need to think a few things through: :)

So the investment eventually pays off. And the feed for the goats isn't really an issue. Nor for one dog. I think the major concern (besides the initial investment ending up around Christmas shopping season) is setting up and choosing boundaries for the animals. This is where the fact that we're getting babies will come in handy for the winter season. Two baby goats and the puppy won't need as much space as they'll require in the Spring and Summer when they're bigger. My hope is to gather enough fencing to set up a perimeter around our back yard and the small barn/coop there. This will keep them close enough that the kids and I can feed them easily and care for their living space and the dogs messes. The key will be to find/buy the fencing,  and the major task will be finding the time and help to run the fencing.

It's no secret that life is a struggle right now. It seems like we are being knocked around in every direction we look. It's really hard. But if we take a minute to think back on the last 6 months, my best times have been when I had the goats and other little critters to care for with my own little ones at my side. It will NOT be easy in the winter. We haven't even hit the coldest times. But Leif and I have a feeling that the animals might be a blessing during the winter months. Something for the kids and I to care for together. And I admit, they are my project. They help me the most. But when all else fails, go for what has helped in the past, right? ... Right!  So, there we have it. It is what it is. I will allow myself to be excited and try hard not to let the hard things about it get me down. I will be surprised if there is not more good then bad in the results. I hope that's the case anyway.  And deep down, I hope my family members (my little family and extended) will be happy with the decision as well. ... I guess that's just the little girl in me.
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