Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gone Around the Bend

Well, I've been threatening to do it for some time, but on Sunday I finally pulled the trigger. I got some goats. Someone should probably think about assigning Power of Attorney for me.

Back in the 50's some governmental genius imported a bush called Multiflora Rose from Asia, with the notion that it would be the living fence to end all living fences. This bush is so mean that a starving cow wouldn't even go through it to get to grass on the other side. I'm sure it sounded like a great idea at the time, but what they failed to realize it that it produces lots of little berries that the birds eat. The seeds pass through the birds unharmed, then everywhere the birds crap becomes a potential seed bed for a new MFR bush. We have a couple of spots that are too steep to mow, and when we bought the farm they were covered 100% in these bushes. Back when we used to make hay on all of our fields we were able to keep the brush from spreading fairly well. But now we mostly pasture this side of the road and make hay on the farm we rent across the road. Unfortunately the cows just eat around the rose bushes, which leaves them to flourish. You can actually see the MFR working its way up the hill from the infested areas. We have tried to mow them several times a year, but it takes as many as 6 mowings a year to kill it, and we just don't have the time or money for that. Of course you could just spray it with Roundup, or some other herbicide, but we won't do that.

So the latest half baked scheme was to get some goats to take care of the problem. On Sunday I bought a little starter herd of a buck, 3 does and 4 kids. It won't be enough goats to wipe out the rose bushes, but enough to see if it is going to work. Apparently goats are browsers more so than grazers, which means that they would prefer to eat the leaves off of bushes and small trees instead of eating grass. The demand for meat goats has been steadily climbing in this country, so I am hopefull that instead of controlling the roses costing us money, that it might end up making a little.

I'd like to try it as well. Our friend Nicola is Jamaican, and I am hoping that she can come up and teach us how to cook a goat once we have one ready to go.

Of course the down side to this is that goats are troublemakers. They are hard to fence, and when they do get out they cause all kinds of havoc, including eating all of you neighbors flowers, etc. I also have concerns about keeping them safe from the coyote population.

Here is an interesting study on this very subject. http://www.kerrcenter.com/publications/brushcontrol_goats.html

Goats at Work


Blogger Kevin and Beth said...

We were thinking of goats to help clean up our potential pasture but were reluctant because of their trouble-making reputation. We will be watching their progress with great interest! Please keep us updated, especially with how you keep them IN the fence. (I'm afraid they'll end up on the hood of our new truck.)

5/15/2008 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger jojo said...

HEY!! goats are fun. and you will enjoy having them. especially when the babies are born. I don't think they are troublemakers in the least. If they have plenty of browse they will stay put. if the browse is out of the paddock? well mine still stay put. but i've known a few to jump those fences. :) They'll eat up all that bush. and then some. :)

5/18/2008 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicola said...

Sorry to report but I'm much more of a goat eater than goat cooker, but I'll so some research--I do have the connections at least. Coincidentally my dad just gave me some packets of a goat-head soup mix and I've been waiting for some goat meat to try it with. Sign me up for the first fifth-quarter you have available. For those unfamiliar with that Jamaican term, the "fifth quarter" is all the other parts of the goat--head, feet, entrails, etc.--that typically wouldn't be made into the usual butcher cuts we're more familiar with like with sheep or cows.

5/18/2008 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Lew said...

Well, you've had just about every other kind of beast on your property, this sounds kind of neat. Good Luck!The market for Goat's milk cheese is booming as well. Love the website.

5/21/2008 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous pablo said...

I have some old copies of the Missouri Conservationist magazine from the 1940s and there is an article in one of them promoting Multiflora Roses as an ideal fencing solution.

There is also an article praising a pesticide with the initials DDT!

6/12/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Tiller said...

Some advice; Never turn your back on one of those little critters. They have more mischief in them than a class fill of 3RD graders.

Alex Tiller

6/26/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous stefanie said...

I had a traumatic experience as a child with an ornery goat; then at a party friends of my parents threw a few years later, there was a young goat roasted in a pit. I could barely bring myself to eat it (due to the early trauma) but finally I did. It was probably the most succulent meat I have ever tasted.

7/18/2008 10:20:00 PM  

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