Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet Toro

It all began innocently enough.  For some reason, I decided to check Craigslist for "goats", you know, just looking, nothing serious.  What's this?  A cute baby goat for sale?  And he's located in our town?  Hmm, maybe we should check this out.  And.... 5 hours later, we had a claim on a goat.

Toro, our little Alpine wether

Turns out the little goat for sale was living at a farm just 1 mile from our house.  Ever since we moved in here, we've admired their farm and always wanted to meet the family, but simply never got around to it.  And it turns out they had been watching us too!  The homestead we purchased had been owned by the same family since the 40's and the elderly mother lived there until she passed away a few years ago.  As you can imagine, with a single elderly woman living here, there was not much activity.  Since we moved in last year, things have been changing left and right.  Several of our neighbors have commented that they enjoy seeing this place come back to life and they are always curious to see what we are up to next. 

So we went to go meet our prospective goat and the lovely family.  I will be completely honest that we are quite clueless about goats.  The mother, Renee, was extremely kind and informative, telling us everything we needed to know about raising a goat, making sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into.  One look at that little goat and he had me.  I'm such a sucker.

I must admit that goats always scared me a bit.  Not exactly sure why, but I remember walking through the goat barns at the county fair and starting to freak out.  Maybe it's their odd-looking eyes?  Their outgoing mannerisms?  It's strange - I feel completely at ease around horses, cows, sheep, pigs and other farm animals.  Why did goats make me so nervous?  I believe I may have even muttered "Why in the world would someone want to own such a creepy animal?"

I'll tell you why we wanted to own a goat.  They make a fantastic self-propelled lawn mower and weed whipper.  After observing Tacori (the goat we are borrowing from a farm down the road) attack all the weeds in the pasture, we were amazed.  They eat everything the cows won't eat, leaving a neat, cleanly mowed pasture.  That is reason enough to own a goat.  After having Tacori around, I actually started to like goats.  They are friendly and personable.... much like having a dog with hooves instead of paws.  Now I can see why so many people have them simply as pets or companion animals.  After calculating the cost of feeding and caring for a goat, we discovered it costs less than a dog. 

We did not bring our baby goat home the day we met him.  Since he was so young, we decided to leave him with his mother for a few more weeks until he was being weaned from her milk.  We decided on a name for him - Toro, like the lawn mower.

My husband John with Toro - we brought him home the day after Father's Day and I joked with John that I bought him a lawn mower for Father's Day.

Last week, we finally brought Toro home with us.  Toro is an Alpine goat (that's the breed) and he is a wether (which means he is casterated).  Many wethers are actually sold for meat.  In order for a dairy goat to produce milk, she must be bred so she can have kids (baby goats).  If the kids are female, they can be sold as dairy goats as well.  If it is a male and has good bloodlines, occasionally it will be left intact to be raised as a breeding buck (males are called bucks and females are does), but most males are casterated and sold as meat animals or perhaps as a pasture companion.  Remember, most animals do not like being alone.  It's not uncommon for people to purchase goats as a companion for their horses.  Toro's main job is to weed our pastures, but he will also be our resident farm animal/companion animal.  We plan to gradually purchase steers to raise for beef and this way we will always have Toro around to keep the steer company if we have to butcher one and leave one on the farm.

Toro (left) and Tacori (right)

After settling in for a few days, Toro seems right at home.  We are thankful that Tacori is living with us so he could show Toro the ropes and help him feel more at ease.  Toro follows "Uncle Tacori" around all day like a little puppy dog.  My children are delighted with Toro.  He is very playful.  My 5 year old son spends hours out in the pasture playing with Toro. I'm thankful they get along so well - we don't have any human playmates nearby for my son, so a goat will have to do.  They climb trees together and my son likes to build "obstacle courses" for him out of scrap wood.  We're going to work on leash training him next.  I'd like to teach him to walk on a leash so we can bring him in the yard with us to play.  He does quite well so far.

My son and Toro climbing trees

So far, we are really enjoying our experience with goats and now I understand why people speak so fondly of them.  They are such playful, curious, affectionate and entertaining creatures.  I hear they can also be one of the most frustrating animals in the barnyard, as they have a tendency to constantly push their boundaries, testing fences and finding ways to escape.  Thankfully, Tacori respects the fences and seems content to stay put.  We're hoping his good manners rub off on Toro.  Welcome to Third Day Farms, Toro.  We hope you like it here!

1 comment:

  1. Apparently goats can also be trained as pack animals (to a small extent). One of my friends does a lot of work with Wounded Warriors, and is training a few dozen goats to be pack animals and carry camping equipment for amputees who can't hike with additional weight on their prostheses. Goats sound pretty cool!