Soon after welcoming Andre the cat to the family to help with mouse control, we decided it was time to add goats to help with brush and weed control. On June 24, 2017, the three amigos — Ruby, Max, and Herbert Nenninger — joined the Stryker family.
Goats: Our First “Real” Animals
Jason, haven’t you heard that chickens are the gateway animal?
Yes, most fledgling homesteaders will get chickens first because they are easy to care for and they provide breakfast! For us, we are lucky to have John Sokolofsky of Soko Farm on York Street. Not only was he instrumental in helping us get the goats, but we also purchase pasture-raised poultry and eggs from his GMO- and soy-free farm.
He actually took Becky and the kids to get the goats with his own vehicle, while I worked frantically to get the fencing done before they returned. He must like helping us out because he is still returning my text messages!
Making Summer a Time of Fun Instead of Dread!
We absolutely love the property we bought six years ago, but one of the major downfalls is that major sections of the land are covered in poison ivy. Though I am not overly allergic to the stuff, Becky has been exposed a ton of times and gets extremely uncomfortable when she gets into it.
Add to the mix two young boys who love to explore, and there is a chance that much of the summer could be spent with pink dots of calamine lotion covering some if not all of the family. We have already had an instance where Nolan was backstroking across his bedroom carpet to scratch his back!
Craigslist Personals: Must Like Weeds, Brush, and Children
Spring was really fun as Becky joined a Facebook group for buying and selling goats, diligently patrolled Craigslist for anyone selling goats, and even got in contact with an old coworker that has goats of his own. Though we were finding a lot of people selling kids, we were either too slow to reply to ads or they were the wrong sized goats for what we needed.
Leave it to Craigslist to come through! We found a lovely woman who had two-year-old Nigerian Dwarf goats that she was no longer able to take care of. She let us meet them, let the boys feed them, and even answered all of the questions we peppered her with for over an hour!
Research told us that Nigerian Dwarf goats were as much pets as brush killers, and they were small enough that we can actually pick them up should they escape. They are hungry enough to help us manage the land we have, and their calm and friendly demeanor will allow the boys to become comfortable around barnyard animals.
Did I mention that the goats were trained to come at the sound of a bell? Seriously, poison ivy eaters that answer to a bell, what more could a homesteader ask for?! Becky and I agreed the goats would be good with the boys, so before we could miss out on yet another opportunity, a deal was struck.
We Kinda Know What We’re Doing, Right?
I’m sure he doesn’t even know it, but we will be using Becky’s old coworker and Farmer John who also has goats as our “goat mentors.” All you parents out there, think of the crazy questions you asked friends with kids or your own mother about raising kids when you had no clue what to do.
Is their poop always like this?
Do they always try to pull your shorts off?
What do I do when they eat the price sticker off the 2 x 4?
You know the simple, everyday, easy-to-answer questions.
Our goat mentors have been a great source of information already, sharing pictures of what they are doing for housing, how much hay they feed their goats, even offering as many tours and examples as we can digest to make us feel more comfortable. Best of all, they’ve been patient with us as we make all the silly new parent mistakes.
Most Craigslist Relationships Don’t Work Out… Will This One?
The three amigos’ current task is helping us manage the amount of poison ivy, brush, and wild grapevine that have taken over large parts of the homestead and clear land that will someday house other livestock. They will be used in our land management system to create silvopastures, where trees, edible plants, grasses, and animals occupy the same fenced-in area, creating an environment that benefits all of them while allowing us to maximize use of our land.
Our neighbor, affectionately known to the boys as “Farmer Rob,” is a dairy farmer with a lot of pasture that he is working hard to maintain while tending his crops and milking twice a day. Our dream is to be able to help him manage his pastures for cows, his woodlands for lumber, and his fields for feed with pasture rotation and brush control. The long-term goal is to create a symbiotic relationship between all of the livestock on York Street, benefiting all the farms, animals, and families involved.