Sometime last week, we made arrangements with Barb the Goat Lady to pick up the single, pregnant doe she was willing to part with. We agreed to come today (Thursday) and, therefore, had geared all of our building efforts toward a midday pickup. Motivated by a deadline, we enlisted the help of our friend Geoff, putting aside for a moment the fact that he had managed to kill one of our chickens after only one day here on his last visit.
We had made excellent progress on the shelter, but crunch time was upon us and there was more work than the two of us could conceivably finish without help in the remaining time. On Wednesday morning, we set to work as a trio on a mission. There was a milking floor to install, a door to finish and install, a steel roof to install, a hay feeder to install. There were many, many things requiring installation. We installed them all (and had a ball).
We were incredibly proud of our handiwork. Having never built anything even remotely like this, we were fairly shocked at the structural integrity of the finished product. We installed two of our salvaged windows around the milking platform for light, as well as adding a plywood front window that opens down for fresh air and can be closed up in the winter for a bit of protection from the elements. The milking platform itself turned out to be beautifully solid. The roof was a cross-hatch of solid beams covered in corrugated sheet metal; this was angled back to encourage run-off of rain and snow, hopefully keeping the interior as dry as possible.
By Thursday afternoon, the shelter was completed. We closed up the last bit of the fencing and hung the door. I’m particularly proud of the door. Having never built a door previously, it was (yet another) brand new experience that was incredibly satisfying to have work out. The weight of it was sturdy and solid, and the measurements were (gasp!) right on the money. Now, if only the ground were even, it would really be perfect.
The last thing that really needed to be done before picking up our doe was to reinforce the fence posts to stabilize them further. We decided at the onset of the project that we were only going to cement the door posts into the ground, allowing the remaining posts to be held only by earth and rocks. We made this decision so that if we did want to move the fencing someday, we would only have two blocks of cement to extract from the earth, not 30. While I still stand by this decision, Dave and Geoff were less sure about it after spending an hour or so of intense physical work trying to beat earth and rocks into submission with a metal tamper. That particular job just about did Dave in.
Once we peeled Dave off the ground and gave him a little lunch, we were ready to pick up the milking stand being lent to us by our good friends up the road. They have three goats that they no longer milk, so they were happy to see it get put to good use after too long in storage. It’s a lovely little piece of equipment, made from a very light wood, and from a very simple design. We are hoping to replicate it, so that we will have our very own sometime soon.
With our fresh hay bales delivered, our milking stand in place, and everything else ready and waiting for our goat, all five of us (the girls came along for this part of the fun) piled into our two cars and went to get our goat!
When we arrived at Barb the Goat Lady’s house, her other goat had just given birth! The hour-old twin bucklings were already standing and nursing and being generally fluffy and adorable. Barb explained to us that she had missed the birth by minutes and saw that there had actually been a third buckling that didn’t survive the birth! Because Barb had been hoping for a doeling, she was leaning more toward letting us take the other mother and the two boys after all. We agreed to connect again in a couple of weeks to see where things stand. We are expecting to be able to take the other mother and the two boys when Barb feels they are old enough to travel without too much stress. We promised her that if our doe births any girls, we will send one back her way. It seemed only fair.
After having driven two hours last summer with three piglets in the back of the car who never relaxed or sat down, the trip with Cindy was downright peaceful. After only a few minutes, she seemed to relax and sat down to enjoy the 20 minute drive.
She has now been in her enclosure since the afternoon and she seems alright. She is definitely confused and uncertain about her new surroundings and the new people who keep trying to pet her and talk to her, but she seems like she’ll be okay. We’re trying to be as calm around her as possible and give her a chance to get used to us over the next couple of days. She likes cracked corn and she seems to absolutely love fresh pine needles! We are hoping she isn’t lonely and that she will see us as her family sooner rather than later.