Getting Everyone Settled In

Getting Everyone Settled In

We’ve had a lot of settling in to do this past week. Most everything has gone smoothly, but we did experience some heartbreaks as well.

You can’t see it, but it’s lightly snowing (yes, all 19 inches that we got last week melted away). Goats hate snow and rain, but the ducks love it.

Let’s start with the goats. They’re adjusting nicely and are wonderful creatures. The rabbits could care less whether or not we’re around (except for food time), and the ducks would rather be left to their own devices. Both of these goats are affectionate and love our attention. There’s been some pushing between them as dominance is asserted (Pepper will be our herd’s Queen Bee for sure), but aside from that they are a dream.

With a renewed interest in homesteading and sustainability in our culture, do you think we can make ‘Selfies with a Goat’ a thing?

It’s funny, because this experience was not unlike bringing our firstborn home. Every little thing is causing for us to worry:

“Do you think they’re drinking enough water?”

“Is Flora too thin? Should we be feeding her more grain?”

“Why is Pepper coughing? OH NO! We have a sick goat! Google! We need to GOOGLE!

Googling symptoms is the surest way to convince yourself that you are dying, and I questioned the wisdom of doing the same for the goats. Alas, we did it anyway.

As we discovered there are many reasons a goat might be coughing, most of which are pretty benign. Parasites, though, were a distinct possibility. I checked Pepper’s gums and the insides of her eyelids, which were very pink. A goat with worms has pale gums and eyelids, which pretty much rules that out. In looking into things a bit further I discovered that some goats will cough to bring back up their cud to chew and it’s perfectly normal. I went back out to observe.

Cough chew chew chew.

Cough chew chew chew.


It’s not a pleasant habit, but it’s far better than having a sick animal on our hands.

It’s amazing to me how complacent they are. Luke, who’s four, grabbed their collars and lead them around. There was no protesting, they simply went where he led them with no questioning.

Now for the heartbreak. Last week we adopted two cats to put out in the barn. Maxwell and Mowgli had been abandoned but had recently been trapped so that they could be neutered. We needed a cat to live in our barn to keep mice from stealing feed, and since these two were accomplished hunters in need of a home it seemed a good fit.

On the way home Maxwell found a way to open his crate. Sadly, no one knew it until the car door was opened and he was able to escape, disappearing into the woods. We’ve had to resort to Have-A-Heart traps to find him. Twice the food has been eaten without the trap springing, and once the trap sprung with the food untouched. We hope this means that he keeps returning, but there are skunks and other animals around that could be the culprit.

Both of us feel terrible. He was our charge and it seems to be poor stewardship for this to happen. As Christians we believe that we are meant to be good stewards, especially when it comes to the lives of our animals and the land. True, it was the vet tech at the clinic who latched the carrier, so I don’t know if we could have done anything differently. Still, it weighs heavily on us that he is gone.

Meanwhile, Mowgli has taken up residence in the upstairs of the barn. We’ll be keeping him shut in long enough for him to realize that this is his domain now. He is a nice cat, but shy. That’s okay, because unlike our house cat Zoë, Mowgli is not a pet. He is a working animal just like the goats, rabbits and ducks, and is expected to pay his keep in an ‘asset protection’ sense. I’m sure he’ll do the job well as he’s an impressive fellow. He’s a gray tiger, and at nearly 13 pounds he’s about twice the size of Zoë. With most of his heft being muscle he’s certainly no lap cat. Once he comes out of hiding we’ll have to post a picture.

Hopefully the trapping will prove to be fruitful and we’ll have good news to share soon.

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