Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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The whole goat thing

We were talking about getting goats, milk goats specifically.  At least my wife was.  I can only see the negative with goats so it was pretty much a one sided conversation.  I'm sure she's right; she was right about the farm, the chickens, the fruits, the eggs, the marriage....

I don't want to offend anyone, I know goat people and I respect people that have goats.  But I've heard goat people talk about goats and it usually ends with a story about one of the goats getting out and eating everything in sight.  Or goats getting out, roaming and eating the neighbor's expensive plants out of their yard.  Or goats getting out and you can't find them and when you do, you can't get them in the truck.  Or goats getting out and eating the neighbor's Harley Davidson.   Let's just say my issue is goats getting out. 

I know a lot of people with goats, they are great people but they tell me stories and inevetably one will be about their goat getting out.  I've been to seminars and presentations where other farmers are talking about how great goats are, but someone will have a story about the time their goat got out    So I asked the question, how do you keep goats in?  Strong fences I’m told.  Strong fences! 

Problem is I've asked the person that has told me the story of their goat getting out.  So, the answer is a strong fence, that’s the recommendation I’ve gotten from the extension office, from farmers and from goat herding friends.  Does anyone see a problem here?  The same people that have told me about goats getting out are the ones recommending strong fences.  Hummmm.  Was the escape before or after they installed strong fences?

I have found that there is a special electric fence for goats, sheep and chickens.  I read the website It is designed specifically for goats and sheep. The advertisement reads "Keeps your goats and sheep in and predators out."  Yeah, but I don't believe it. 

Once you buy the fence and then get the goat you’re done.  The gig is up, there is no turning back.  The goat will get out, they always do.  I'll end up having to give my neighbor free vegetables for a season.  Or worse while trying to corral the goat it kicks me in an area not meant to be kicked.  To me, goats are Mother Nature’s way of teaching us that ruminants are suppose to roam. 

Then I start to think of the benefits: they can clear brush and eat grass.  I learned of a type of pygmy goat that I found to be quite comical.  There is a goat called a Fainting Goat, and as its name implies when this thing gets scared it faints.  I saw a video of it, and all most spit my milk out from laughing.  So I waited for the right time and told my wife if she gets a milk goat then I wanted to get a fainting goat. "What's a fainting goat?" she asks.  "A pygmy goat," I respond. 

I get a quizzical look but I avoid her eyes and quickly change the subject.  I ask what kind of food would we need to feed the goat.  She starts to rattle off the list of things she has learned that a goat will eat and by the end of the list I'm  thinking she missed our next door neighbor's roses and the Harley. I know she is holding back.

I can tell she is pleased that I've started to ask questions about the goats.  "Ya know," I say "we'll have to think about this whole goat thing".

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We have lots of goats, and using old fence that was already up, had some problems, usually with my roses, but never with the neighbors, but we do have 50 acres. My suggestion is welded wire (NOT woven, they can stretch it out!) about 5 feet high if possible. You shouldn't have many problems. Pygmys make great pets and brush clearers, but are little escape artists, I can't say I'd recommend them with your concerns. I had to choose between them and my yard. They lost. Fainting goats are known for meat production, I don't know about the milk side, I've not been around them. We have mostly Boers which are meat goats but also a few Toggenburgs, an Alpine and a Saanen, all good milk choices. When I was new to goats, I was a little unsure, but now I call them my "little dogs with horns" because they are so friendly & personable. If you find the right one I'm sure you'll fall in love too! Feel free to email me with any goat related questions. I'll be happy to answer the best I can!

Posted by Emily on September 14, 2009 at 08:24 PM EDT #

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