When the goats came marching in


My husband, Herbert, and I were NOT raised on a farm. Actually, I have always thought of myself as a city girl. The closest I got to owning farm animals when I was a kid were some cats and a cockatiel — not the most labor intensive. Herbert was born and raised in a mid-sized town in El Salvador, where farm animals walk freely up and down the streets, but he never owned anything more than chickens and a pig here and there. Neither of us imagined we would be where we are now.

We came into goat farming blindly, knowing nothing about what we were getting into.

It was a sauna outside on the day we got our first goats, Joanna and Lilac, a Nubian and an Alpine-Nigerian Dwarf Cross respectively. We brought them home on July 18th, 2010 from Boone, Colorado and tied each to a tree near a patch of scrub-oak, thinking that would be acceptable. There was plenty of grass around them to eat and we hoped they’d be generally pleasant until we finished the fencing and could turn them loose.

That was not the case.

They SCREAMED and SCREAMED and SCREAMED to the point that we feared the neighbors might call child protective services. Surely no one had any idea that these were goats screaming, we live in the city and goats screaming isn’t a frequently heard sound. They didn’t calm down until we relocated them to the trees nearer to us.

Shortly thereafter, our sweet, curious dog arrived to check out the new, long-legged, noisy animals tied to the trees. He sniffed — that was it — then I immediately witnessed the innate fight or flight reaction in the goats. There is no fight, Just flight.

Joanna sprinted to the end of the five-foot rope tied to the tree and then, inertia took over. Her body flung forward while her head and neck stopped — landing her flat on the ground, almost lifeless. Two hours into goat ownership and I thought we had already lost one, I really thought she was dead.

Thankfully, she wasn't. She just shook it off and stood right back up.

Needless to say, we learned some valuable lessons on our first day of goat ownership:
1. It’s helpful to have your goat enclosure finished BEFORE you bring the goats home.
2. Don’t let the dog approach them right away (it takes a few days for them to get used to each other).
3. Goats are much quieter when they feel sure they are not alone. Stay near them for a while when you bring them home to avoid the gut-wrenching screams.

Now, four years later — although the dogs don’t appreciate getting head butted in the stomach by the goats and the chickens would rather not be occasionally stepped on — we’re mostly just one big, happy, farm family.

- The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S. Joanna just didn't seem like a name for a goat. We gave her a more fitting name from her color: Canela ("cinnamon" in Spanish).

Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, an organic garden and a budding orchard. Just around the corner is the city. But she, and her farm, are hidden by the rocks. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: thegoatcheeselady@gmail.com

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