G – Goats and Gardening

the start of a garden

The start of our garden.

Today is another two-fer, this time for the letter G. That’s because I can’t decide if I want to write about goats or gardening – both of which I love.

Gardening was my first love. I have been gardening since I was old enough to stand up. My parents always had a huge garden and summer was highlighted by eating fresh, yummy veggies every day. In fact, I would often raid the garden when I was outside playing, looking for goodies to snack on.

G

My mom canned lots of tomatoes and pickles (she made the best pickles!) and I learned to appreciate the value of producing your own food. After I got married the first time, we moved A LOT, so I had few opportunities to start a real garden. I would get one put in and then we’d move again. It was very frustrating, but I can say I have experience gardening all over the country. In fact, I earned my Master Gardener certification while living in the Florida Keys.

I have always dreamed of living on a farm and growing as much of my own food as possible. I love visiting Farmers Markets and was always secretly jealous that they had what I thought I would never have. But at least I could enjoy fresh, local food. That’s almost as good as growing your own, right?

Finally, a Garden!

After I got remarried, Jeff and I found this amazing farmhouse on 100 acres. Yes, it’s an old house. And it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed about. Jeff, being the man of my dreams, got to work tilling up a garden spot for me because he knew it was important to me. I was so excited to get it planted, knowing I could actually be there to harvest the fruits of our labor.

Now, I should note, I don’t recall my parents ever having a fence for their garden. We had occasional rabbits sneak a treat, but for the most part, the garden thrived and we had a bounty of food from it. It never occurred to me to fence my garden here since I never had to do it before.

Jeff tilling up a garden spot.

Jeff tilling up a garden spot.

Well guess what? Gardening here is not the same as it was in Milwaukee when I was a kid. I found my garden pretty much munched to the ground by rabbits, and I was so disappointed it was hard to not just cry. I gave up, thinking I just wasn’t meant to have a garden. But after a while, I could see there were veggies growing among the weeds that I had allowed to take over.

A strawberry growing among the weeds.

A strawberry growing among the weeds.

Jeff and I rigged up a pretty pathetic fence with leftover chicken wire. Anything with any determination could get over it, but rabbits are a bit lazy and decided to move on to easier pickings. So I got in and spent the day pulling as many weeds as i could. It looking better and I was excited again.

Enter the Goats

Ma "helping" me weed the garden.

Ma “helping” me weed the garden.

Every day I was careful to pull any weeds that had popped up since we didn’t mulch. That’s when my beloved goats noticed Mom was finding good stuff to eat. They gathered around the fence as I tossed them weeds and they happily munched them down. Seemed like a great system until the goats realized they could hop in and help me.

Now, had the goats just focused on the weeds, that would have been awesome. But they seemed to be more attracted to the strawberries and cabbage – you know, the things I wanted to eat. Going forward, we had to keep a close eye when the goats were out and blast them with the hose if the jumped the garden fence. I was able to harvest a few things – mostly tomatoes if I could get them before the chickens spotted them.

This year, I am itching to get the garden planted, but I am not doing much until we get it fenced. And I am not talking that flimsy chicken wire either. I hope we can do it soon, because the soil is ready to be worked and I am dying to go play in it.

Lesson learned: Goats and gardens are not very compatible. But I love them both, so I will keep on trying. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “G – Goats and Gardening

    • Well, the plan is milk and meat from any excess bucks. Right now I believe I have 2 that are pregnant. I didn’t bother milking last year because we had so much going on, I couldn’t keep up. This year I have a new milking stand and plan to get the job done. 😉

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  1. My problem is the squirrels. I grew tomatoes on the fire escape, but the squirrels got most of my tomatoes. And, than, a few weeks ago, one saw plants growing inside the window and tried to get in! Squirrels inside my apartment! Afraid to grow anything now.

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  2. A hundred acres sounds like a wonderful homestead. Nice story. Moving from garden to garden and finally feeling settled, only to find other creatures want to settle around and enjoy, too. How funny to inadvertently teach the goats where the good stuff was in the garden.

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