The ‘Joys’ of Owning Goats

Family friendly farm stay
08 Oct

We’ve all seen them; those YouTube videos of baby goats prancing around, jumping over logs, playing in the paddock. We’ve watched them on repeat, shared them with our friends, giggled at their antics and expressed delight at those adorable, little animals. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some baby goats, just like those ones?

Family friendly farm stay
Baby goats at Diamond Forest Farm Stay

Goats are amazing. Their babies are cute, they are very personable, they’re curious, will eat just about anything and can potentially be the biggest pain in your rear end that you’ll ever have. I know. We own goats.

We own quite a lot of animals, not just goats; pigs, cows, donkeys, sheep, ducks, chickens, alpacas and horses, to name a few. And while our sheep can be very frustrating when we want to round them up- they are so acclimatised to humans and dogs that they refuse to be rounded up- nothing has caused quite the commotion that our Saanen doe, Nikkita, has. Our life is now divided into two distinct parts; before Nikkita and after Nikkita.

We’ve always owned goats. When we first purchased Nikkita we already had a Saanen buck, Uther, and three Saanen cross Angora wethers; Nigel, Jimmy and Houdini. Houdini, as you can probably gather by his name, likes to escape his paddock. A lot. In Houdini’s, defence this is because Houdini is right at the bottom of the pecking order and would miss out on all of the juiciest bits of food if he didn’t

One day, after observing our old sheep, Bart, wiggling himself under the fence, Houdini copied him. From then on, on almost every animal feeding, Houdini would wiggle under the fence from paddock to paddock following our progress around the farm. Our guests loved it and Houdini always put himself back in his paddock at the end of animal feeding. No harm done.

So we thought it might be time to get another doe for Uther and breed some baby goats. Our guests would love it. Baby goats are so cute and we had plenty of experience with goats. Enter Nikkita. It didn’t take long for her to become super friendly. Goats love their food and Nikkita was no exception. Too young to go in the paddock with our buck, we put her in with our sheep, in a paddock that bordered the neighbour’s property.

Our first hint that we could be in for some serious shenanigans came when the neighbour started to lay out hay for his cows. Once the cows had eaten their fill and dispersed, Nikkita, being the nimble little, goat that she is, hopped over the fence to help herself. In her mind, the grass was clearly greener on the other side of the fence. Our initial concerns relaxed after a few days when we noticed she always came back after an hour or so and the fence, an old fence that had collapsed a little, was very low. Once we moved the sheep, and her, out of the paddock that would put an end to her day visits to the neighbour.

One morning, before we’d had a chance to remove her from the paddock, we discovered that there were only sheep in the paddock. No Nikkita. After much searching and a ride up to our top paddock on the quad bike we spotted her; with the help of a pair of high powered binoculars. It seems Nikkita had been caught by the neighbour’s cows pinching their food. Whether the cows were angry or just curious, we will never know, but they chased her all through the neighbour’s numerous paddocks. When we spotted her, about a mile away, she was still running, followed by a mob of forty cows.

After managing to get her back into our paddocks, and restraining the neighbour’s cows in his, Nikkita became a very obedient girl and didn’t visit the neighbour again. But that wasn’t the end of Nikkita’s antics.

She came into season and discovered our buck, Uther. Much to her disgust he was in a different paddock to her. They were separated by two full sized, well maintained fences. Much to our disgust, Nikkita proved they were no barrier to her infatuation and like a teenage girl escaping out the window to visit her boyfriend, she cleared both fences with ease. Each fence she took in a single bound. No running start. Just up and over. Just like that.

Nikkita was too young to be in kid. We immediately removed her from the paddock and put her further away from him. Ten minutes later she was back in with Uther. We tried this four times and each time, no matter how far away we put her, how many fences she had to jump, our determined little goat ended up right where she wanted to be. Short of tying her to a post, we had no other option but to let her be.

Three days later, having got what she wanted, Nikkita was ready to leave Uther- does can be so fickle- and she put herself back into the paddock with the sheep. If you think that was the end of our Nikkita troubles; you would be wrong. Now Nikkita knew she could clear any fence she wanted, she proceeded to do exactly that. If she wanted to join our guests on the animal feeding, she did. She jumped the fence and followed us around, stealing food from the wheel barrow, knocking it over on numerous occasions, and took food from children’s fingers. The kids loved it. We smiled through gritted teeth.

We fervently hoped when, that as her pregnancy developed, or when she gave birth to her kid, she would stop jumping. In the meantime, we came up with a solution. We found a halter to fit her and whenever she joined us on the animal feed we clipped a lead rope to it and the kids got to walk the goat. The kids loved it. We breathed a sigh of relief.

As Nikkita grew larger and larger and her udder started to fill, we thought she would stop jumping fences. No such luck. When she gave birth to two gorgeous kids, Lando and Dani, we thought she would stop jumping fences. Not even then. She would feed them, get them settled in a safe place and then disappear to her favourite paddock, where the grass was sweeter and she had it all to herself. Now our biggest fear is that she will teach her kids to jump. They are already climbing over everything and they’re only a month old.

Do we regret owning Nikkita? No. She is such a character. She has this huge personality and for all that she can be annoying, our guests adore her and we do, too. But are goats easy to own? Not always. So when you watch those cute videos of baby goats, remember they do grow up and their antics aren’t always so amusing anymore.