Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Goats in the Toolbox

Posted on | September 4, 2009 | No Comments

It isn’t hard to convert a duck barn into something more useful.  My husband and I looked it over and decided that with a bit of tweaking the barn would hold our expanding goat population quite nicely.  Out with the nest boxes, some side boards over the wire, a couple new doors, raise the water trough, move the feed cans, take down the roosts, change the bedding, build a hay rack, remove the floor pallets, hmmmmmm……….Better set up the crockpot, it’s going to be a busy day.

But the hardest part of barn renovations isn’t the chore list.  It’s the goat supervision that will cause you to pull out your hair, throw your hammer, and shout those ridiculous Southern cuss words like “Sugar Honey Iced Tea!!!!!!” in front of your kids.  I don’t mean the farmer’s responsibility to supervise the goats.  I mean the goats’ need to supervise anything that happens in their section of the barn yard.

Sure, it sounds cute to have a goat leaning over your shoulder while you’re removing the roost brackets.  But after a while that heavy breathing in your ear gets kind of creepy.  Besides, that kind of close contact always develops into the ever-annoying hair chewing or way-over-the-line licking of your glasses.  Never mind the health hazards involved in that kind of scrutiny.  Drop a screw or a poultry staple and it will be sucked up faster than you can throw yourself down on top of the pile of manure where it is guaranteed to land.  Digging a pea out your child’s nose can’t compare to throttling your goat to keep her from swallowing while shoving your fingers under her cud-coated tongue to search for the missing article.  Trust me, it’s not pretty.

I installed goat gates at strategic locations in the barn yard to prevent this type of goat surveillance.  Gates that only work if you lock them every time you go in and out.  Of course, you’re thinking.  Lock the gates behind yourself every time.  It seems simple until you forget the fresh battery when you bring out the drill to remove the nest boxes.  And then you have to go back for the sledgehammer when it turns out the screws are stripped.  And then you realize you need the scissors to cut the twine holding the roosts in place.   The trips through the gate don’t even end when you come back to the barn with the hammer, scissors, wire cutters, crowbar, and monkey wrench.  Because then you remember you need a trash bucket for the ruined brackets, the ladder to reach the highest parts, and the cell phone in case the school calls to say one of your older children isn’t feeling well (translate:I want to come home early and watch TV while sneaking chips out of the snack cabinet) and you should come pick them up in case they’re contagious (translate: hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I had one less kid to teach in this noisy overcrowded classroom today?).  That puts the number of times you need to lock the gate behind yourself at 1,062 times.  Think you’re up for it?

Meanwhile, the goats have all the time in the world to lay beneath their hay rack, watching my (nonexistent) progress and waiting for the inevitable moment I simply push the gate closed with my hip and walk away.  With the synchronization of Navy SEALS, they send a leader bursting through and separate into specialized divisions capable of tearing open grain bags, tipping over the box of screws, and trampling clean 2X4’s before I can even yell out “Sugar, Honey, Ic..!”.   I can tell you from personal experience that the troll really didn’t stand a chance against three goats determined to get to the other side of his bridge.

Like I said, the construction is the easy part.  I hope to at least get the nest boxes down and raise the water trough.  Getting anything else accomplished will be God-willing and goat permitted.

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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