I absolutely love my goats. I knew I’d like having goats – what’s not to like? They’re hilariously curious creatures; innocently ornery. But I never expected to love them. Like, “where have they been all my life” kind of happiness. They have turned out to be one of the most personally rewarding animals I’ve ever kept in the joy I feel from their adorableness.
I will be the first to admit, however, that I have the pleasure of just simply enjoying them because my husband does a lot most of the “dirty work.” He and my stepson built their Doemicile, battling the heat and fire ants. During this process, I cooked and took photos. I contribute to goat Beds & Heads – occasionally – but my husband does the really yucky part of disposing of the soiled straw… Ew. I mostly just spread around new, fresh stuff and feed them treats.
One of the hardest parts about owning goats is constantly being one step ahead of them, because they are mischievous and inquisitive. And they can climb. And when they desire something, they will stop at nothing to acquire what they want.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
Did you know goats like chicken feed? I didn’t, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. You might have heard, and I have learned firsthand – goats will eat A. N. Y. T. H. I. N. G.
I thought in the beginning of my goat ownership that I had to buy special organic licorice treats and sweet feed – and someone even convinced me (it wasn’t hard) to buy them Lucky Charms. While they love all of these (especially Lucky Charms), they are also fine with stale bread, potato chips, green bean casserole, leftover pizza, tortillas… Wait, I’m listing off a college student’s diet. Basically, they’ll eat whatever a teenager might eat and then some. Especially the tortillas – flour, not corn. Those alone broke the petting barrier between me and the twins.
So, back to the chicken feed. You didn’t even know it, but there has been an epic battle of wills going on here at this little Mini-Farm in Georgia.
At some point in time, Rosie figured out that the chickens have food in their coop. I’m not sure if she just simply found herself trying to climb into a new area she hadn’t explored before, or if the food called to her. I’m thinking the food spoke her name and made her do it, because she’s a big pig. Either way, we found her inside the chicken coop one day, making a disastrous mess of the chicken’s laying feed. Chickens need this feed for laying eggs; goats aren’t supposed to eat this feed; and if the goats are eating the chicken feed the chickens definitely won’t be able to eat it. It’s, like… Logic.. And stuff…
Another rule of goats: once one has done something, they all will do it. Lily’s favorite snack is now chicken feed. So far the twins aren’t exactly into the feed so much as the exploration of the chicken coop. It’s like a little jungle gym for them. But covered in chicken poop. Blech. What’s wrong with animals??
So we tried making this fancy box at the entrance of the chicken coop – let’s call it an anti-goat foyer – it would allow the chickens to enter (they’d have to duck down and go through a small maze-style entrance), but the goats (in theory) wouldn’t be able to fit through. It sounded like a good plan, and I found the idea on the internet – so it I assumed it would work perfectly.
We went through three variations of this stupid box before we gave up. Not only did the goats find a way in with very impressive, Olympic-level Gymnast flexibility moves (seriously – Rosie all but took her shoulder out of the joint to fit herself in – the girl is dedicated to snacks), but the chickens couldn’t – FOR THE LIFE OF THEM – figure out how to get in the entrance. Let’s lay that out a little more simply: the goats found a way to squeeze their fat asses through the tiny entrance, but the petite little chickens couldn’t figure out how to gain entry.
Because the anti-goat foyer box was my idea, I tried to salvage my dignity by coming up with a way to teach the chickens how to use the box. I’ve mentioned before how unintelligent they are, right? Nothing has changed. One night, I caught every single chicken and Vinny the rooster, one by one, and put them in their coop for the night. This took over an hour and felt like an impossible task in a two-acre open yard. But I did it, and I expected fully that the next morning the chickens would understand better how to get out of the box than how to get in. We opened the ramp at 5am as usual and even spread out delectable freeze-dried meal worms outside the magical box (these are one of the only treats the goats won’t try and steal).
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 10am came around none of the chickens had exited the coop. They were starting to get irritable with each other, cackling and chattering about GERTRUDE IS IN MY SPACE BUBBLE, WELL BERTHA PECKED AT ME, WINIFRED AND TOOTSIE ARE STARING AT ME, and forget about Vinny. He was all up in everybody’s grill, making a racket and trying to mount two chickens at a time. It was utter bedlam. So I admitted defeat and helped my husband remove the not-so-magical box… And on we moved to finding the newest solution.
We made the entrance to the chicken coop smaller and smaller until we were actually surprised the chickens could get in, and even more surprised when the goats found their way in. It was starting to feel like we had been outsmarted by goats… Until…
I went out of town for a few days to teach an essential oils class, and while I was gone, my husband went on a mission. He declared all-out Mini-Farm war. Both of us generally believe that obstacles are opportunities, and so he was determined to be smarter than the goats.
Observe: videos I received from my clever and excitable husband while I was away.