It is an incredible responsibility to be in charge not only of your own well-being but those of your family as well. We have two growing and beautiful children, but we have 19 chickens, a beehive, 3 dogs and 4 goats. Each one deserves a series of blogs covering what we’ve done right and what we wish we could change. Parenthood is indeed a challenge and full of discoveries and there isn’t anything that really prepares us except actually doing it! This blog will be devoted to our newest family members - Milk Dud, Snickers, Daisy and Delilah.
Momma is Daisy and she’s the biggest with all of our goats being Nubians. Daisy was bred with a Nubian dwarf and they produced Milk Dud and Snickers. (Milk Dud is a boy and Snickers is a girl.) We aren’t sure if Delilah is a pure bred Nubian or not but she’s small and at least mostly Nubian. We did a lot of research on the different types of goats and decided that for now, Nubian is the way to go. They are a hardy group of goats that are good for milking and meat; which at the end of the day, is exactly what we are looking for. Originally we were going to get Milk Dud and Snickers once they were weaned along with Delilah and her sister. A sad story later, we had to hurriedly pick up the ones we have now. And that in and of itself was a bit of the problem. We had to hurry to prepare for them. Instead of having 6 weeks to prepare for their arrival, we had just a few days during the hectic work-week to become ready. I felt like the count-down was on and ready or not, here they came!
Mackay had researched the goat the fencing in advance and it was actually ready. Please check out his youtube video on the brand/model here: https://youtu.be/CJRDcpKTmkM
While I was out working my day job, he had to put it out himself and get it ready, all 200 yards. It worked just fine and the solar battery was charging. We had a lovely Friday after work trip to Tractor Supply to pick up food, salt blocks and stands, formula and then baby bottles from Dollar General. (Tractor Supply was out of the nipples and bottles.) We dropped those items off and then went to get the goats. After talking a bit with their owners, we loaded them up in the back of our truck (it has a topper so no one could jump out) and we gave them some food to munch on for the short drive home. By now, it was almost pitch black. This was turning into a problem - it was extremely dark and we were holding flashlights in our mouths so that we could have both hands free to carry the kids and get the ladies out and settled. Finally, we get our own kids to bed and set out to see how our other kids are doing in their new home.
The electric fence is ticking as it should and we checked every panel to see if it was on - it was but… just didn’t have a kick or any juice. Now we are concerned, not that our goats would get out, but that something would get in - our goats were sticking their heads through the fencing and leaning on it like it wasn’t electrified! This is a BIG problem! It’s really late now, pitch black, we’re tired but know we won’t sleep knowing our goats are essentially unprotected. After some quick texts with their previous owner, Mackay works a little magic! Off comes the solar panel on goes a new power source that we jerry rig from our workshop. There is a definite bite now to the fence and we call it a day.
The next morning, it’s time time feed milk to the babies. Based off of what we were told, the girl would Not bottle feed but the buckling would be hungry and eat because Daisy wasn’t producing enough milk. Dollar General nipples for babies do not work nearly as well as nipples designed for goats - we learned that the hard way! Every few sucks you have to pull the nipple back out from inside the bottle so the babies can reattach and that gets old. Fortunately, it appears Daisy is producing more and Milk Dud and Snickers are getting enough to eat. We do still occasionally supplement but not regularly. We have seen both kids trying to eat fresh clippings although it seems they’re trying to figure out what all they can and can’t eat. Daisy and Delilah LOVE animal crackers like it’s crack but the babies could care less. Daisy and Delilah are much more coaxable when they know you have their treats. One shake of the canister will bring them running.
24 hours goes by and we relax a bit until a very strong storm moves suddenly into our area with a lot of lightening. We had not had time to build a shelter for them and we were really worried about the babies. The ladies were accustomed to being outside in the rain and weather, but the babies were not. After a break in the storm about 1am or so, Mackay was able to bring them all over to our enclosed porch and warm Milk Dud and Snickers with his body heat and towels. He gave them warm milk, all four of them actually although Snickers wasn’t really interested. The babies stopped shivering and Milk Dud now idolizes Mackay and thinks he is a rock star. The next day, Mackay made a make-shift shelter to keep them dry and our kids added several buckets full of pine needles to give them a bed. Success! Last night it rained again and everyone was snug as a bug in a rug. In fact, the kids think it’s fun to jump on the tarp and they all seem to like being under it together. Quality family bonding time perhaps?
All in all, what a joy they are! And it’s good family bonding time for us too - instead of sitting in front of the tv, we all sit in the goat pen playing with the Milk Dud, Snickers while trying to get Daisy and Delilah more comfortable with us. Our kids enjoy playing on the brush pile along with the goats. The chickens often come join us and peck around. The dogs each were shocked by the fence and keep their distance now, which is a blessing because Freyja was all about trying to get herself a goat sandwich. Peace and routine, once again, has settled upon Iron Side Ranch. Not sure how long it will last but for now, we savor it and thank God for our beautiful and growing family.
I'm a wife, mom of 3 wonderful children, homeschool teacher and loving ranching. After Mackay and I married, we've been steadily pursing our goals of having a self sufficient life and teaching others along the way.