Will 2024 be the year of the goat?

No, not the Chinese year of the goat – it will be the year of the dragon in 2024 BUT for us it just MIGHT be the year of the goat!

I’ve always liked goats, they’re adorable, funny, and charming (and naughty).  I’ve never had the opportunity to have goats.

My sun sign is Capricorn, my moon sign is Capricorn and I have Capricorn rising (or Sagittarius depending on who you ask).  I am definitely Capricorny!

I’ve often joked about getting goats but in all honesty I couldn’t really see the purpose of having them.  I think there is only so much goat’s milk and cheese a person can eat and with our meadow out of site from the house even having them as pets just didn’t make much sense.

That is….until now.

Harness Goats!  It hadn’t really occurred to me to train goats to drive a cart but as I came across an article recently a light bulb literally flashed on above my head!  Yes! What a great idea.  I’ve worked with horses before and whilst I haven’t specifically broken a horse to harness for driving I have broken many horses for riding and I have long reined horses.  I feel confident that I can train goats to pull a cart!  For the first time I can really see a good reason to have goats.

There is research to do.  It’s not a done deal.  What breed? how much will it cost? will we be able to afford goats? (food, vets, registration, insurance, etc.) What do we need to do to the meadow to make it suitable for goats (and how much will that cost? – Shelter, dry ground, fencing, etc. )?  Where could we get goats?  What sex is best?  Horns or no horns? Would we even be allowed to have goats? (In France we would need to ask permission from the local Mayor), etc.  There is much to discover before we can actually welcome some goats into the family.

We started our quest of knowledge by doing some online research and we trundled along to the Mayor to ask about the process and whether we could have goats.  “How Many?” she asked.  “Two? oh you don’t need permission for that” she said shrugging and laughing a little at the silly English lady who says she wants to drive goats.  They will though need to registered goats – although many don’t register their goats, in France and most other countries goats must be registered, tagged and a record of movements made – they are after all farm animals.

Goats need dry ground.  Obviously fields will never be completely dry in the winter but the meadow is currently very wet in places.  The ground hasn’t seen the light of day under the forest of brambles for maybe 20 years.  So, we need to make sure it is drained effectively and wait and see how it dries as Spring arrives.  The water table is pretty high on all of our land.  We can always look at offering platforms in the wet areas.  The meadow is fenced around its outer edge but would need further fencing inside to mark out paddocks and keep the goats out of the woods and away from poisonous plants.  We also will need to dig up the Iris rhizomes/roots that are present in several places across the meadow (as these too are poisonous to goats).

Wethers (male castrated goats) are probably the best bet for harness work.  Males are stronger but intact males would be far too unruly and strong to easily train.  So probably wethers, but females can also pull harness so we’ll see on that – more research needed.

Horns or no horns is a matter for discussion.  Nubbing often takes place when goats are still kids, and is essential for showing (apparently).  Also, horns can cause damage when goats play, fight ….or butt their humans up the butt!  That said, I learned that horns help to regulate the goats body temperature (as they don’t sweat) so horns do play an important role in goat health.  I’ve seen plenty of driving goats with horns so if they have horns they can probably keep them.

The most common breed of goat in France is the Alpine goat, which are suitable for driving in harness but there are also many other breeds that harness well such as Saanen, Cashmere, and some other French breeds, so again more research needed on breed choice.

There is certainly more research to do but I’m feeling very excited about the prospect of having a couple of goats to train!  Will bring more news as it happens!





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