A Bonus Post - Start November with Ask Me Anything
Goat hair, goat sex, a wallaby, and my dad
Hi Friends! Last month the Ask Me Anything was so widely read I am doing it again. Please consider sharing it.
As always, I appreciate feedback of all kinds, positive or constructive. What do you like? What do you not? Thanks for the questions and let me know what you think in the comments!
Kerry: What is the minimum amount of acreage you would recommend for goats?
Great question! Goats don't need much space to thrive. They're much more adaptable to different lifestyles than horses or cows. Miniature dairy goats, like I have, only need about 200-400 square feet. However, plan for those feet to be eaten down to dirt very quickly. You'll need to buy or bring in the hay to keep them fed. I also have one girlfriend who does her herd exclusively on alfalfa pellets with great success (less waste than bales).
I've talked before about how my favorite goat, Bella, came from a normal suburban house in Lakewood - they have a home on maybe a quarter-acre lot? It's an old-school 70s tri-level, and the yard isn't huge. They have older zoning rules and no HOA. Lots of places all over the country are looking at backyard goats. The common municipal rule is two goats, either females or wethers (castrated males).
If you want goats, get at least two, they need a buddy, or they will scream all day.
If keeping goats in a smaller pen, I would consider adding some vertical space to keep them moving and active - lots of goat people like those giant cable spools. I also know people who get those plastic play structures for little kids for their goats too. Just remember that goats are excellent jumpers so you want to make sure any play equipment is at least two body-lengths from your fence.
We had a huge tree cut down when we moved in here, so I added stumps out in the pasture, and they love to hop from stump to stump. I give my girls a huge space, but have that luxury. It's not necessary, and I know plenty of very happy goats that live in small areas.
Erin: Did that goat date happen?
Not yet. It's on the agenda for the next month or so (in case you're wondering, this is referencing a question from last month's AMA.) As a literal goat pimp, I get paid for people, many of whom have goats in their small backyards, to bring their female goats by for sex. This is not a joke.
A goat's gestational period is about five months, so the goat this question is about will be by later this month or in December for April or May kids. Goats generally go into heat about every 21 days, so Anna should drop her doe off here for about a month to ensure she gets "covered."
Those who keep smaller herds or just have a few goats in their backyard will look for a buck to rent, for a place to take their goats to do the deed, or for a "driveway date," which is exactly what it sounds like. Unless you have the space and the need, keeping a buck goat isn't a great idea. Although they can be sweet, as soon as they're in rut they get stinky and crazy.
For backyard goat owners, though, they need their does to kid before they get milk. Most does need to kid, or "freshen," every year to milk. For owners of larger herds, like me, it makes sense to rent out our bucks. As our bucks serve only the purpose of servicing does (HA), the fee collected from renting them out helps to cover the cost of feeding them for the entire year.
BethAnne: How is Welby doing?
Welby's great. He's fully recovered from the bee sting that landed him at the vet, and he's still hopping around. He got a few chunks of pumpkin yesterday, looked at them skeptically, and handed them off to the Labrador.
Welby watched Squid Games with me this weekend after the kids went to bed and was unimpressed.
Gregory (my brother): Where did you get the espresso machine, to make such a beautiful latte?
My beloved brother gave it to me as a gift, which you would know I already wrote about, if you read the pieces I post. Rude.
Mary: Do goats get really thick coats in the winter in Colorado? Or does it depend on the breed?
Hi Mary! Great question.
Yes, goats get a nice and fluffy undercoat, called cashmere. It starts to form in the fall, about now, and it will shed out in the spring. Some goats are bred specifically to produce nicer and easier to spin cashmere, but any goat, except for the angora, can produce it.
My goats will generally rub theirs off on the fences in the spring, and it's hilarious because it looks like they create a little sweater around each fence wire. I have considered keeping the cashmere and trying to use it each spring when I brush them out, but then I remember I have too many projects already.
Angora goats are fiber goats that produce mohair. I have also considered getting a few, but please see my previous comments about too many projects.
Fun fact: goat hair is compostable, and so I put the cashmere I brush out and put it in the compost pile. The plants LOVE it.
Jennifer: What's the greatest lesson you learned from your Dad?
I mentioned in the post this weekend that my Dad is no longer with us. I appreciate such a sweet and thoughtful question; thank you.
My dad, Jim, was such a spectacular guy. He was 6'6" and had a personality to match. He loved spending time with his family and was thrilled when his grandson was born. Dad was a food and art enthusiast and frequented the Denver restaurant scene.
The greatest affirmative lessons I learned from him were to appreciate food and art and love my family. He saw beauty everywhere and helped those around him to see it, too.
Of course, the lessons we learn from our parents aren't just affirmative ones; we also get cautionary lessons.
My dad was a great provider, and he worked hard. He would get up early and drive his beat-up Honda (as he hated spending unnecessary money on things like cars when it could be spent at restaurants and on art) to 1801 California Street. He worked for the telephone company, as did my beloved grandfather before him.
He made a good living that gave his family a great life. Dad started work at a time when people would stay with a single company their entire career. He loved many of the people he worked with and for, who were his lifelong friends. Mountain Bell became US West, which became Qwest - and he worked for them all. But, he didn't love the work itself. He loved food, art, and architecture. For him, a job was a way to provide for his family and do the other things he loved.
The lesson I took from watching Dad do something he wasn’t passionate about every day for the people and things he was, is expressed in these words. I don't know if I'll ever be a legitimate writer or farmer, but I'm leaping to try because of him.
I am so grateful to my friends, especially to you, who are helping me fill the gap while I try this big, weird, and hard thing.
I wish for Dad that he had gotten to try to be an architect, a food critic, or an art writer in his 30s. He lived a great and full life, but for him, as for many, work was a means to an end. The travel and the food would always come when he retired, but he was dead at 67.
The lesson he taught me was that it's worth trying something offbeat to love what you spend most of your time doing. I love celebrating the beauty, the art, and especially the food because of him - but he also made me bold.
Thank you for joining me for another Ask Me Anything. If you want to help me pursue this weird and bold dream of being an urban farming writer, please consider a premium subscription. If you already are a premium subscriber, you are the reason I might someday be a real writer. You’re the best!