Hi! I'm here to tell you about my life experiences with mini-farming. How loud can I say EXCITED??? I am so stoked about this adventure that I am kinda jumping the gun--I have no goats yet! Well, they are in the process of being acquired. . .
So deciding to goats was not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants decision. It's something I said I wanted to do since we moved into the Little Red House, three years ago. I became more serious about last year and then a few months ago, I really started to get the fever.
Originally, I wanted to invest in pygmy goats because I knew that I only have barely an acre to work with. I also knew I liked them because well, who hasn't pet a pygmy at the pumpkin patch or petting zoo? They are such agreeable little guys! So I researched and did more reading. In the process, I tripped across the words "Nigerian Dwarf Goat". Out of sheer curiosity, I clicked on the link and upon seeing the picture of the goat, I was smitten. Then I read about them. I was sold.
Like the pygmy goat, the Nigerian Dwarf goat stems from West Africa. The two were actually confused as one until I think it was the 40's or 50's. What's different about the two tho, are the conformity of the body: pygmy's are cobble-legged and more barrel-shaped, whereas the Nigerian Dwarf goat is literally a mini-full-sized-dairy goat. The ND goat has more suave to the shape of her body; longer legs, longer neck, etc. And upon my reading, I discovered they are actually considered a little sweeter in disposition. They also birth their babies with less problems than a pygmy. That's always a plus. ND goats stand about an average of 19-21 inches high, so they are still a small animal for my small "farm".
So my journey took a turn. Unfortunately, has been more difficult to find information on ND goats than pygmy's. For general care, they are almost exactly alike, tho. And finding the information was overwhelming, so I compiled a notebook of all the useful information I found. When I printed it, it was 205 pages long. I would say two-thirds of the notebook is probably about estrus (being in heat), conception, gestation, and kidding (birthing babies). I am rereading the notebook as I have spare moments.
In my search, I discovered that I wanted to buy from a real breeder, not a "backyard breeder". I wanted someone that would answer questions, know the history of their goats, had pedigree papers, etc. I want the real deal. When I looked at different breeders, my area is dotted with breeders from Oregon to Central Washington. I only wanted to buy from someone who also had a respectable, updated website. And then over the three I found, I prayed and I was led to Melissa and Jeremy at Left Foot Farms. I emailed Melissa and was just thrilled to get a warm, receptive response!
Since communicating with me, and already answering a plethora of silly questions, they invited us to their farm. I wish I had taken the camera with me; it was amazing! I don't think I have ever been on a farm that was so CLEAN. I mean, organized, too! And the kids were beautiful, the goats ran up to us and nibbled on our clothes. . . I was in goat heaven. (Nina was smitten, too. She got a little cold, but before she climbed in the Jeep to warm up, she whispered, "Buy me a goat!" I can't say how Dominic is taking it, as he had a head cold that was kicking his butt and he really could have cared less about anything.)
Scott and I discussed things and we picked our babies. Aww, poor Scotty. He has been sucked into one of my "schemes" again. He definitely did not let me have my way without getting the full scoop on everything. I really think him talking to Jeremy and getting another man's perspective was super-helpful. Scott's point of view on this new adventure is this: it's an investment and he wants to see an eventual return. Not an overnight return, but just at least get out what we are putting in. For us, this is a major deal, financially. And he is keeping that in mind. I see goats, he sees dollar signs. It's a good balance because he keeps me in check and I soften him up a little.
So meanwhile, since the trip to Left Foot Farm, I have measured out the fencing for the goats and staked markers for the poles. They have 940 square feet of roaming space and I read that each goat needs 250. So far, so good. I think what it really comes down to, at this point, is actually doing the deed and getting the experience.
My two doelings (girls) should be ready mid-Aprilish to come home and I got lots to do until then!