Winter can be harsh on the animals, especially in goat society where they struggle with the wet. Lacking the oily coats of the ponies or sheep, their ability to withstand long periods of wet is poor and they rely heavily on their field shelter.
Politics in the field shelter
That in itself is no problem, we have good shelters for all our farm animals. However goat society is very hierarchical and those at the bottom of the pile can be excluded which is very dangerous. We have in the past had to have two field shelters to protect the weak against the dominant and prevent some being left out in the wet. This year I’m delighted to say that since we have put all the goats in together for the winter months, a harmonious living has developed.
Goat society in peace and harmony
Three cheers for Billy and Queenie
Billy goat gruff is happy as he is no longer looking longingly at the girls from across the fields and even our little hand raised goats, typically bottom of the hierarchy in goat society, are thriving. Little Queenie born earlier this year only moved in with the other nanny goats just a few weeks before being joined by the rougher boys, yet has learned to give way to Billy at feeding time and earn acceptance among the others in the field and shelter.
For several nights when the weather changed, I braved the wind and rain by torch light to make sure no one was out in the wet. It was with considerable relief I saw many eyes shining back at me from the shelter doorway.
Kids on holiday love our pigmy goats
They continue to be as popular as ever with the guests, climbing up to meet us in the mornings and calling out for their cornflakes and hay. It’s lovely to watch the children grow in confidence with the goats, pick out their favourites and feed them by hand.
The only goat now separated is Bully. Named for a reason, we had to take her away from the other nannies in the summer for bad behaviour towards her peers and our younger guests. With a huge set of horns which she is happy to deploy at the slightest injustice, she is undoubtedly head of goat society with all except Billy goat gruff. Back in the summer the only field available for her was in with Billy and the castrated male goats. Bully thrived in there and easily held her own. However by autumn we suspected she could be pregnant.
Bully has proved to be a very poor mother in the past, abandoning Queenie and Sprout, and we have been watching her carefully in isolation in case she gave birth. As time passes, and no babies arrive, it is tempting to release her from isolation and free up the field she is in. We will need her current field for new born lambs and their mothers in Spring, however with goat society so harmonious at the moment adding Bully in with her peers again is a risk.
For now we are procrastinating and letting things be, however if it turns out to be a phantom pregnancy we will need to risk putting Bully back with the others . If our naughty nanny reverts to type, and upsets the balance with the others, she may find herself free to a good home!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.