Sunday, May 23, 2010

Moving the Goats to Second Place

It took me TWO hours yesterday to set up the fencing for the goats' second place.  It was a judgment problem and a tools problem.  A judgment problem because I don't have a feel for how much space I can enclose with a 163-foot piece of fencing. And a tools problem because I didn't take any tools to clear the line for the fence. 

As I get more practice (there's that word, "practice" again!), I'll get better at knowing when to turn back for the beginning of the fence to enclose an area.  I'll also get more sections of fence, like the pros have.  As it was, I used up one section of fence at about the halfway point, so had to free up a second, smaller piece that was protecting the raised beds.  Then, I still had a 6-foot opening to close.  So I had to go around and move a bunch of the posts (meaning clear more fenceline) a few times before I got it right.  It was frustrating, but this is exactly the stuff I need to learn and practice.

This area is completely overgrown with brambly things, so I mostly used my shoe to push the brambles down.  The pros would use a weedwhacker, or Craig Madsen (who owns Healing Hooves and I spent 3 days with in Seattle) used a machete.

Then the goats spent more of the day whining about the newness of it all than eating, even though there's a very yummy smorgasbord waiting for them.  Looks like they need the practice too, but to give them credit, they're doing great for 10 or 11 weeks old.

I brought up Craig Madsen and Healing Hooves for a reason.  My google alert on the word "goat" turned him up.  Him and his goats are in the news in the Wenatchee World newspaper in Washington state. 

Craig is a former NRCS person who quit the NRCS to start his goat-eating business about 10 years ago.  He's got 250 goats, and a few sheep that he takes all over Washington state.  He's one of the 3 companies that I spent time with two summers ago (also Tammy Dunakin of Rent-A-Ruminant and Brandi and Brandon of Terra Vita).  The article is about a contract he has with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and says that Craig also has contracts with Seattle City Light, Pacific Lutheran University and King County.  New York or New England versions of the same organizations are potential future clients for me.
Here's the link to the article.
Here's a link to the Healing Hooves website.

Caution: Goats at work

Nature’s weed eaters keep nasty plants under control

Craig Madsen watches as his goats exit the trailer. About 250 goats from Healing Hooves LLC of Edwall spent the weekend eating weeds around the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. “It’s such a natural way to eradicate the problem,” said Corky Broaddus, hatchery spokeswoman. The goats eat diffuse knapweed and dalmatian toadflax, two noxious weeds that will take over the 40-acre area if left uncontrolled.


  1. Things are going really well for you and the goats! If you buy more portable electric fencing, might I suggest that you buy the poultry fencing panels. It'll permit you to be able to put both the goats and the chickens in together--or move the chicken coop inside the fencing perimeter, open it up and won't have to worry about them getting out where the dogs can get them. If you don't want them sharing the same space, you can create two separate enclosures but still hook up to the same charger.

  2. Jordan -
    could you take a before and after picture to show just how much they clean up with the munching?

  3. Good idea, anon!

    Karen Sue, I will definitely post before and after pics. I didn't leave them in the last area long enough for them to eat everything down, so the after pic doesn't look very dramatic.

  4. I forgot to say . . . to help with setting up the fence and knowing where to double back, I tied a piece of plastic tape at the halfway mark on all of my panels. If you have a funky pasture shape it doesn't always help but at least you have a better idea where to start turning around.

  5. Oh yeah, anon - that totally makes sense. Thanks for the idea!