Goats in the Garden- December 2009

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By the time you read this we will all probably be getting ready for Christmas, a time of year that I love, although it can get pretty hectic at times.

Referring back to my article in the last magazine, I hope you all managed to find a suitable male for any females you wished to have mated. I borrowed a very nice male, Heatherview Phoenix, and four of my five girls welcomed him with open arms in the first week. Erin my goatling, however, decided to play hard to get.

I missed her first season as it was over in a flash and apart from a wagging tail and a few interested sniffs at Phoenix she made for the furthest part of the garden and stayed there. Three weeks later more tail wagging and plenty of bleating but she still refused to go into Phoenix`s pen. I eventually had to put her on a lead and take her in. The reluctant bride was not impressed but Phoenix was having none of her nonsense and got on with the job in hand.

She escaped as soon as she could and complained of a headache for the rest of the day.

I kept Phoenix for several weeks just in case they hadn`t taken the first time but as far as I can tell they should all be pregnant. Having them scanned is the only sure way of knowing if they are pregnant but for most of us that isn`t an option.

It is always a big responsibility borrowing a male and I am glad when I can take him safely home. It is only when you bring a male in that you realise how strong they are and what damage they can do to fencing which was only built to withstand the gentler female. My garden usually ends up looking like a bombsite with a variety of hurdles placed at strategic points to avoid too much damage. In Phoenix`s favour I must say that he was the quietest, least smelly male I have ever borrowed, he did no damage and settled in straight away.


A question I am often asked by garden goat keepers is how much space do two pygmy goats need, and to be truthful there is no exact answer.

My goats have two areas joined by a walkway. I use to keep chickens in one part but after several encounters with the fox I decided to donate the space to my goats. One area measures 40` x 40` and the other is slightly smaller, so you can see I do not have an enormous amount of room. My girls all seem content in this space and as most of them have never lived anywhere else their knowledge of the world begins and ends at the 4` high fencing.

I do, however, give them things to brighten up their lives. On occasions, when my husband isn`t looking, I cut a branch off a tree and they can spend many happy hours and days chewing the bark and scratching themselves on it.

I also build things, (well that is rather an exaggeration, I actually nail things together). My structures are very basic as you can see from the photo at the top of the page.

On this occasion I went on to `Freecycle`, an amazing website where we all give things away we no longer need and obtain items we may find useful. Most areas have a site so it might be worth a visit. I found just what I was looking for, a supply of wooden pallets. I duly collected them and by placing them in a very artistic way I ended up with a climbing frame most pygmy goats would be proud to own. The pallets needed to be nailed together and then coated with a wood preservative but nothing too complicated. As you can see, my goats love climbing and jumping on it, especially the kids.

Well the evenings are drawing in and the feeding time is getting earlier each day. I am thankful that I only have to go down the garden to tend my goats, they can all be fed, hayed (is there such a word) and tucked up for the night and I can be back indoors before Anne Robinson has had time to say `You are the weakest link, goodbye` to her first victim.

I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New year.

Viv McNeil