Monday, June 28, 2010

Goats Like Millkweed

Here is a milkweed with the flower out of focus because the focus is on the leaves.  Or rather the half-leaves, because the goats have eaten most of the leaves.  They take a bite and then move onto the next plant, so what you see here is a few days worth of stops by this plant on our way back and forth to their shed.  Note that the grass is untouched by goat lips.

I'm really diggin' being with them twice a day.  Since I'm leashing them up and moving them, I can't just throw them food and bolt.  I need to touch them, look at them, ... interact with them.  I'm learning how to be with goats and they're learning how to be with people.

They're also learning how to be weed-eaters.  They think they're done with the area I've had them in for the last few weeks, because they ate all the easy-to-get blackberry leaves.  Despite their wishes, I'm still taking them back to the same area.  They've finally realized that they can push down tall plants to get to the tops, and have been doing that for the last 2 or so days.  Then, I hope they'll get to the lower, foot-high stuff that's been ignored so far.  It seems like a long time on this small area (whatever can be enclosed by 240 feet of fence), but it's 2 goats x 30 days = 60 goat-days.  More goats = less days.  If I charged $5 a day per head, it would have costed $300 to clear this area so far. Considering that it was completely impassable due to thick bramble, and on a steep hill - that's not a bad deal.  Plus, these goats are just babies.  They'll eat more and faster when they're grown up, and in a future world, they won't spend 12 hours a day away from the jobsite.   I'll throw down some grass seed to get something good competing with the bramble, and as the blackberries weaken and die the nature of this hill will change the way I want it to.

We've got a ways to go yet.  I'm still trying to entice them to eat stinging nettle.  Twice a day we stop by this rock for a little snack and I linger, hopefully.  They're eating everything else, but passing on the nettle ... so far.  They're big fans of apple leaves, so the trip from shed to worksite is rock, apple tree, apple tree, jobsite and the trip back is the same stops in reverse.


  1. Funny - sheep cannot eat milkweed (poisonous to them), but mine will eat nettles! It's nice that you're building your goat/person relationship. I love to spend time with the ewes.

  2. Hm. Upon some research, it looks like maybe I shouldn't be letting them eat it at all!

  3. Yeah- milkweed is poisonous to both goats and sheep...and they will only take down the nettle when it is very young and not yet stingy...

    Are we ready for blueberry picking yet? The market awaits...