We all look for good advice. Something that will make the job simpler and easier to do. It also seems like everyone is offering good advice on just about everything. The real trick is recognizing good advice from bad advice. How do we do that? Sometimes, we just have to go out and try it, hope we survive, and then we know if it is good advice or not.
Last week on the morning news a fellow, who someone thought gave excellent advice, was put on the air to tell how to collect walnuts. You say, why just go pick them up off the ground. Yes, but what if you want more and a good wind hasn’t been by lately to knock them out of the tree?
So, on good authority, you are to get a rope and tie it to a hammer. Then you stand under the tree and throw that hammer up into the air, attempting to get it over a limb full of walnuts. When it comes down on the other side of that limb, there you have a rope in one hand and the hammer in the other and you start pulling up and down all you are worth to shake those walnuts loose.
Now, is it me, or do you all see a problem with any of this? Personally, I can see the hammer flying straight up and then coming straight down and landing on the person throwing it. If it does go up and almost over a limb, I can see it getting hung up and you standing there jerking on the rope and the hammer flipping back and, yes, landing on top of you. Or, the hammer gets permanently stuck up in the tree limb and you either have to go find a ladder to get your hammer down or just give up and cut the rope and leave the hammer up there to fall on you or a goat during the next wind storm that comes up.
Let’s say the thrown hammer does arc over the limb and does it come straight back down, away from you? In my experience, things on ropes tend to swing, especially when once thrown over something. If you aren’t expecting that swinging hammer, the results can be very uncomfortable.
Okay, let’s pretend it is a perfect world, everything works correctly, the hammer has come down safely on the other side of that limb, and you now have the hammer and rope in each hand so you start tugging, really shaking that tree limb full of walnuts. Yes, you get a bountiful shower of walnuts, but have you ever been hit by a walnut, much less a bountiful supply of them? Our green walnuts are about the size of tennis balls and about 100 times harder. Have something like that drop on your noggin, not one but many, and you’d wish the hammer had hit you and knocked some sense in you. Just make sure you wear a hard hat, or motorcycle helmet, or football helmet, or a riding helmet or bicycle helmet. You get the picture. And, I won’t say a word if I see you outside with a football helmet on, a hammer in one hand and a rope in another as you stand under the walnut tree. I may laugh, but you won’t hear me over the sound of the hammer hitting your helmet.
So, what has all this to do with goat farming? I bet at first you thought the hammer and rope was something to do with worming goats. Well, that’s a thought, especially for the wild ones that run by and out smart you every time you try to catch them, but I wouldn’t recommend following that train of thought.
In the goat world we receive all kinds of advice. Some of it very good, some questionable, and some you just go “What?!” Ten years ago it was the popular thing on the goat lists to advise people to steal the cud from a healthy goat to give to a sick goat to get its rumen to working properly. That cud was to be full of all sorts of good juices to get a sick goat’s rumen back to working in top form.
Have you ever tried to steal a cud from a healthy goat? Really you need a very tame calm goat to try this. A more nervous goat will immediately swallow her cud when she sees you sneaking up on her. Then try sticking you fingers in her mouth, that cud’s gone for sure. Also remember about the goat’s back teeth that can crack corn. They also crack fingers too. My advice is to go to the feed store and buy a probiotic paste, full of live cultures, and simply squirt it into the sick goat’s mouth. All feed stores closed at the moment? Go get some yogurt at the store that has live culture in it and squirt that into the goat’s mouth. That’s my bit of advice.
Feeding goats. Years ago people’s advice would be to throw the feed on the ground to feed their goats. Talk about making sure your goats get worms. Plus, wasting money from feed getting mixed in dirt and manure that they won‘t eat unless starved. I figure they came up with this to save themselves from getting stampeded when the goats saw the feed can.
The next bit of advice was better. Put feeders up off the ground and keep them clean. If not able to do that, buy those black rubber hog feeders to throw on the ground to keep the feed cleaner. The goats might run through them and flip them up into the air when they accidentally step on the rims, but at least you started out clean.
So, how many goats does it take to make a grain stampede? One. And, if you have more than one, you are really going to get bullied around trying to run from feeder to feeder to put the grain in because I think they get into the spirit of the chase. They chase you and that feed bucket because surely the grain in that feed bucket is much better than what you just put in the feed pan.
My bit of advice goes much farther. With cattle panels and T posts, tie up a small corral as a feeding area, with a good sturdy little regular gate or big gate, depending on the size of the herd, and put your feeders inside where you can safely walk in or sneak in when the goats aren’t looking, and put the grain in the feeders and then open the gate to let them in when you are finished. It only took several years of mad wild dashes with me and Lee carrying feed buckets, splitting up, running to stay ahead of the herd, while we tried to dump out dirty hog feeders and put the grain in before being swamped by goats to decide us on paneled feeding areas. Oh, we tried one of us running ahead to clean the hog pans and the other following dumping in grain, but the goats can surround you in no time and you are done for. Even if you do toss the grain bucket to the other spouse or child to run ahead, they know and they chase that bucket.
Of course, if you are in to keeping fit, this type of feeding is perfect. There’s nothing more heart pounding and getting the blood flowing than being chased by a herd of goats.
Personally, I like the calmer exercise of plenty of walking, not running, to get my exercise, and having a feeding pen is a much saner and cleaner and less wasteful way of feeding grain to goats.
And, the advice continues to flow from goat breeder to goat breeder, from the internet, from just discovering something nifty yourself and sharing it. Some good advice, some bad, and plenty of “What?” As you continue in your goat experiences, you’ll pick up the knack of what makes sense to try. So, now as for me, I did hear that if you dance in the light of the full moon wearing a tutu it would reduce the worm load in your herd. I’m not sure if I can talk Lee into this one.