I am guilty of making a terrible pun here, but what can I say?
Say hello to Scarlet and Keira!
Scarlet is a matriarch with a chill attitude; Keira is Little Miss Adventure.
Both goats are Australian Miniature Goats, which means they are descended from feral bush goats with a bit of Cashmere and Angora mixed in. This type of goat is often called a Cashgora (but ours are also mini, about 55 cm at the shoulder).
We brought them home in a straw-filled box trailer on 29 November last year, full of trepidation and excitement, but woefully underprepared emotionally!
It turns out the getting-to-know-you phase with goats is a rollercoaster ride (who could have guessed)?
Goat pen: the concept phase.
This shed shares its back wall with our chicken shed, and we were using it to store firewood, tools, and odd and ends. We figured it would be the perfect size for a couple of miniature goats, if we enclosed that grassy area with a yard.
To prepare ourselves for this adventure we did a fair bit of reading about keeping goats, and decided to use electric fencing (netting) for their day pen. We weren’t convinced this would be safe enough to deter wild dogs at night, so we wanted something a bit more … constructed … for their night pen.
By the time our girls actually arrived, we had the shed cleared out and a yard with 120 cm high chicken mesh installed (remember: our goats are mini, less than 60 cm tall at the shoulder). This matched what we saw at the goat stud. Enough, right?
For the shed itself, we re-used our old fence gate from Berowra as a door, plus some school fencing (welded and very sturdy) to put a front onto the shed. It was much like this:
However (and this turned out to be significant) we didn’t have that top section of wire netting between the fence and the roof.
Can you guess what happened on the very first morning?
Yup! Our goats used the inner rails to parkour their way over that fence and escape into the garden, and ten minutes later, onto the road. Luckily they were too nervous to venture far, and they came when we called them (and shook their grain bucket).
I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed in my life!
Fast-forward just a few days, and Stephen and I had managed to upgrade the initial yard to become Fort Knox:
We added another 90 cm of wire netting above the first fence, matching the height of our chicken coop — two metres in total, which is at least three times the height of our goats!
The girls, however, did not like sharing that shed.
The next couple of weeks were characterised by skirmishes between Scarlet and Keira as they sorted out who was going to be “top goat”. Every water bowl and hay feeder was the scene of a battle. Keira would frequently get butted in the side by Scarlet who was not amused by sharing a large shed with … well anyone else at all, really.
Spoiler warning: Scarlet is the “top goat”.
Two weeks and quite a lot of grey hair later, we realised we needed at least two of everything: water bowls, feeders, shelters, and most importantly: a divided sleeping place!
We detached the welded school fencing from the front of their pen and reinstalled it as a hurdle to divide the shed into two stalls.
Having figured this out, the girls called a truce, and we were able to relax a bit. It turns out goat psychology is quite amazingly complex, and nothing we read had prepared us for this!
Now they have settled in, and they are both so loveable in their different ways!
Over the last seven months (oh golly, that went by in a flash) we have had a lot more adventure, but most of it has been super fun, and everything we hoped for. More on that coming soon!