I knew goats would be tough, and getting them a bit earlier than I anticipated meant playing catch-up to completely secure the run fence. True to their canny nature, the goats escaped and explored the yard several times before allowing themselves to be herded back to their run. On day 5 they took off through the back fence into the woods and were gone.
The joy of watching baby bucklings and their mamas was replaced in a moment by fear for their safety as they traversed brush, scrambled over rocks, and attempted to avoid predators. After following them for several hours I lost them at a fence I couldn’t pass through and watched with a sinking heart as they raced across the field. My roommate’s nephew joined me for another couple hours of searching that night, and although we found sign we did not see goats.
I decided to leave the back run gate open that night on the off chance that they would simply return home – atypical goat behavior. When I heard a bleat the following afternoon and looked up to see 3 goats in the run my heart leapt and I raced to secure the gate. One buckling was lost, which meant milking started much earlier than anticipated. With no milking stand we got to work and did our best to help the first time mama. We enjoyed the rich milk and found plans to build a milking stand.
Yesterday the 3 escaped once more. With no clear evidence at the run as to where they escaped my heart was once again flooded with sadness. I feel the weight of responsibility to keep the animals in my charge happy and secure – I want to know what I could do that would convince them to stay (yummy treats and hay are not enough?!?). The elder goat seems to instigate these adventures, and we hold out hope they’ll return once more.
The emotional highs and lows are part of farm life. It’s challenging to negotiate them and some nights the sorrows get the best of me. That can be said of any job, though, and I’ll move forward with what I’m learning.