Kids raising (goat) kids

| 07 Dec 2023 | 11:48

When my son asks to get goats, my husband and I are charmed by our adorable kid, but we are no fools. I still have to remind him after every single meal to put his plate in the dishwasher. I certainly don’t have a hole in my schedule that I was looking to fill up with goat chores. So we chatted with him about his interest in goats, and let it be at that.

When it kept coming up, we suggested that he do some research on goats, get to know what they need, and learn what it’s like to keep them. I was certainly surprised when he began his research immediately and kept it up all week. He asked to go to the library so he could get books, watched videos about goat keeping and dug through our home library of homestead books.

Since we already have livestock, he knows what it’s like to take care of sheep and chickens, and he helps where he can. But the sheep are big and he can’t yet carry half a bale of hay through a cluster of sheep that want to start eating right now.

He wanted animals that were a little closer to pets: smaller than the sheep, more personable than the chickens (while I know some people raise chickens as pets, we don’t).

And after a week of research, he presented us with a PowerPoint presentation about goat keeping, including his plans for daily chores. He wanted two female adult Nigerian Dwarf goats, with a goal of breeding them and milking them in the spring. And lots of cuddles with baby goats.

After a little asking around, I discovered an acquaintance who was looking to rehome two female Nigerian Dwarf goats. Her family had enjoyed their company for four years, but was at the point where family life was getting too busy for them to be more than quick chores twice a day.

And so the stars aligned for my son, and in October, we picked up Rosie and Betty. They were later joined by Prince Winter, an eight-month-old buckling.

The reality of owning goats is, of course, different than the fantasy. The goats have to be tended at least twice a day. And when they get out of their yard, they’ll show up on our front porch any time of day. Usually at a very inconvenient time. My son does need nudges to go out and do the chores, and he doesn’t always do them cheerfully – but he does them.

I would love for him to be happy with his plans and success, but I think the reality is a little more mixed. Wintertime goat chores are less charming in reality than as a bullet point on a list. And that’s probably a great lesson for a 12-year-old. And, hopefully soon we’ll have some healthy baby goats and then we’ll all be charmed and forget about all the midwinter grumbling and water hauling.