"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Q&A #6 Why dont you keep goats?

I am often asked this question.
There is a popular misconception among the green fraternity that the Goat is the perfect animal for any smallholding. Well, they aren't.
Now before a million goat lovers write me heated letters please understand that many years ago I and my family lived on goat milk and chevon (goat meat) for several years. I have dealt with goats under any circumstance you can think of and my opinion is that if you like goats, you can have them! While goats can be absolutely lovable creatures at times they are also stubborn, devious and far, far too intelligent! In addition a goat is the single hardest animal in creation to fence in! The last time a frustrated gardener asked me how to keep her goats fenced out of her vegetable garden after their latest raid had leveled the place I suggested razor wire and machine gun sentries! Failing that put the goats in the freezer. You can either have orchards and veggie gardens- or goats but you will never keep the two successfully together.
Having said all that, my main reason for not keeping goats here is that this area is simply not suited for them. We receive far too much rain and goats hate getting wet, they are also very susceptible to parasites found in wet conditions and get foot-rot easily. Cattle remain unfazed by these obstacles and fare much better in this area. Now if I lived down on the dry lands I would consider goats indeed because a goat will thrive on absolutely rubbish land and produce just as much milk and meat as it would on green pastures. I have seen them do so when cattle were wasting away!
At the end of the day you must grow what is suitable for your area and accept that some things will just never thrive in some areas. Therefore we keep cattle and pigs, hardy breed chickens and meat pigeons. These are animals complimentary to our area, landscape and weather. 

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