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Goaty Goats!

We are now lucky enough to have these 2 adorable mammals living with us (well, not actually in the house. They would make terrible housemates).

I haven't spent much time with goats, so I don't have anything to compare them to. But these girls are the most relaxed creatures I've ever met. Spending time with them is like free therapy.

But they are hungry! A single goat can eat their way through a small garage-sized patch of weeds in a day. So I now find myself being the weirdest mum ever at school drop-off; casually pruning the bushes in the car park after saying good bye to the kids, 'Don't mind me! I've got hungry goats at home!" The weeds feed the goats and the goats will soon feed us with their milk. Plus the garden will get fed with their manure, wasted hay, and the mulched leftover sticks from all those school hedges.

I find that I now have 'weed-vision'. All I see as I drive around town are the noxious weeds like cotoneaster, blackberry, honeysuckle, and ivy. And I don't think, "oh how terrible, they are taking over!' I think, 'my goats would love that! I must pull over immediately and prune it!"

The permaculture principle of 'use small and slow solutions' definitely applies here. Each weed that they munch down to the ground (or I bring home to them) is one less producing seeds to be carried into bushland to outcompete natives. That patch of earth is now free to be inhabited by an appropriate native plant or food producing tree. They don't even spread the seeds through their manure because their gut kills the seeds.

However, they have added extra work to our already busy lives, and we don't even need to milk every day yet. I also have some misgivings about their pen placement at the bottom of our property. It's uphill from a protected hanging swamp ecosystem. These are unique to the Blue Mountains and endangered. Swamps are a low nutrient system. So while all that goat manure is great for my veg, it's not so good for the swamp.

Given this, I will be working hard to mitigate the nutrient run off from our animals through buffer-planting grasses and trees between the animals and the swamp. Also moving the goats around to different areas and properties will help spread that manure and energy, while providing them with a diverse diet.

Prepare for many more goat pictures. Check out my instagram feed for more. They are just so damn photogenic.


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