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

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

At First I Thought It Was a Trash Bag

When I went out to move the cows to a fresh paddock on Sunday morning I spotted what I thought was a trash bag laying on the ground. When I got closer it turned out not to be a trash bag at all but a mostly white heifer calf. We have a few cows with a fair amount of white on them, like the one in the back of the photo, but they were all sired by a bull who had an entirely white back. The parents of this calf look like your typical white face Hereford. Genetics sure can be fun.