The valley walls echo with cries from mamas who have misplaced their kids….yet again!
It’s a nice break from a long day’s work to sit on a stump in the spring sun and watch the longlegged kids try out their first hops and leaps.
Another favourite pasttime of ours is taking the herd for a walk in the forest for browsing. Goats thrive on a varied diet of twigs and leaves and weeds in addition to their hay and pasture. Taking the time to wander up the treed hillside, watching as they nibble and munch, brings up some old genetic memories of other lifetimes living in a herder/gatherer culture!
The goats love oak leaves and pine needles which we have plenty of in this Ponderosa/Oak forest zone. Goats and forests and people have evolved together through eons and the judicious pruning they do of the trees and shrubs actually benefits the ecosystem through encouraging stronger root growth as well as opening up the ground to more sunlight allowing other seeds to sprout and grow.
We grow as much of the herd’s diet as we can. Alfalfa is rich with minerals and protein, while the roots like rutabagas, mangel beets, carrots and kohlrabi contribute towards their carbohydrate needs and can be stored for many months in the lean winter months.
He’s 2 years old this year, and probably over 200 pounds, though I still remember driving home from my friend Jonni’s farm in Colorado with a ten day old Dandy on my lap. Bottle feeding often makes the goats grow up more gentle and friendly, though it doesnt take the place of some good ol fashioned discipline training in an animal who will eventually grow to be 250 pounds.
This is a photo of two special kids from 2014, Delphinium and Dock. I’ve been naming the kids after native New Mexico plants, combining my two loves, for goats and wild plants, into one!
Our chickens also play many important roles towards maintaining balance on the farm. They scratch and aerate the soil in the pasture and forest while eating grasshoppers and other garden pests. Their manure is rich in both Nitrogen and Phosphorus, elements in high demand in SW soils. Because the coop is built onto the North side of the greenhouse, they help moderate the growing temperatures in winter with their manure and body heat. They clean up fly parasites in the goat barn in summer and recycle kitchen waste. All this in addition to the steady supply of the darkest orange yolked eggs you’ve ever seen!
Oh yeah, and their entertainment factor is highly valued around the farm too!