Born in a Barn

We used to wear clean clothes (most of the time).  We used to brush our hair (well, to be honest, some of us not so much).  Jonny and I used to be able to use the phrase, “Were you born in a barn?” without the offending child being able to look around at the straw strewn around the floor before replying, “Ummmmm, apparently, so.”

But then we brought home a couple of nubian alpine cross bucklings (because I know some of you will want to know their breed–and yes, they will soon become wethers, losing their ability to reproduce).  They are proving to be the ultimate distraction, and the reason behind the (more than usual) disheveled appearance of our family.

When these guys were born in all their cuteness at my friend Jaime’s farm a few weeks ago, she gently suggested that we might want them, and I quickly remembered that we needed a couple of goats to help us clear brush on our property.  We had briefly discussed the possibility last summer.  Jonny was on board from the start, and all of the kids, save Silas, are thrilled to have the goats.  Silas liked them at first, but now seems to view them as competition and is acting like he just got a new baby sibling.  I’m hoping that passes quickly, because he is making me crazy.  I’m doing my best to give him extra special attention, so he doesn’t feel upstaged (again.)  Thank goodness Job is too young to be worried about such things.  He just wants to hug the goaties.

The babies were with their mamas for their first two weeks and now we are bottle raising them.  Part of that equation involves Keats and I heading over to Jaime’s farm every morning so that he can help her milk.  We bring home the milk to feed the babies.  (For those of you who aren’t into goats, bottle raising is a very common practice for several reasons.  In our case, one of those is that we want these guys to be as friendly as possible.)  Four times a day, I warm milk on the stove to feed them.

Right now, the babies are sleeping in a large dog crate in our house at night, and we are trying to figure out daytime still.  My kids walk them around outdoors, playing shepherd, and we let them run around the house too, which feels a little bit nutsy.  We’ve discussed the possibility of diapering them, but goats in diapers, really?  Our short term plan is to move them outdoors into our former hen house and enclosed chicken run, but we need the weather to warm up a bit first.  Right now there is a snowstorm dumping more snow on us, so today there won’t be romps outside for the goatlings.  Seven human kids plus two goat kids getting stir crazy should be lots of fun!

Oh–names!  The smaller baby, mostly beige, was the runt of his…litter?  I don’t know the correct term.  We call him Robin Hood, or Robin for short.  His half brother, who was a giant from day one and is white with a beige head, is called Little John.  Robin is the sweetest, and Little John is the most entertaining.


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  2. What a bad dog, photobombing Little John!

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  5. Reminds me of when we had baby Nubian goats. We took a baby goat to ballet once. 🙂

  6. YOU GOT GOATS! They will change your life in the most wonderful and frustrating ways. We adore our goats but I’m finding they don’t mix well with gardens in spite of 5 foot fences. All the best! Our newest little goatlets look almost identical to yours. They are Boer crosses, which accounts for the white body/tan head. And the bigness. You might have some Boer strain too.

    Have fun! (You are)

  7. Oh wow. I think you need to turn this into a documentary series. Like on video….

  8. Baby goats on the couch–that’s awesome, Ginny! (I wish I wasn’t so anal about animals in the house. My youngest sneaks one of our cats into the laundry room constantly so she can play with her kitty…I pretend I don’t notice & just quietly shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. )

    Adorable new family members!

  9. Hello Ginny,
    Your post made me miss all over again our last wether, Mackay, who died last summer. Now we are goatless after getting our first two does in 1997. Duncan and Mackay were the first batch of kids from the first breeding….so they spent more than 15 years with us. We gave up milking pretty fast, after two years, but the goats lived on in our pasture for so many years afterwards. The older they got, the less trouble they were, to the point that they actually stayed in the pasture unless we wanted them out. : )

    Favorite memories are taking the whole little herd for browses at the edge of the woods, with a blanket and book to read aloud to my sons. Heidi was the most fitting, and a beautiful read.

    I still can’t get used to not having a goat to feed the kale stems and other delectables to.

    Wishing you so well with them!

  10. Mellisa says:

    Oh the joy! This is something that your children will NEVER forget! What a precious experience. We bottle raised a lamb in our house under the same circumstances as you. We DID diaper him tho. It helped keep the house fresher and it was easier to love him up, without fear of him doing what little lambs do best…poop! Good luck and just focus on the memories and not the craziness!

  11. Autumn's here says:

    Totally unrelated to this post, but saw this new book and thought of your blog:

    A new book with people’s stories of trees they have known and loved.

  12. Hello. I love coming to read your blog! Your photos are stunning and your writing cracks me up! However, I’m not much of a commentor. The bucklings are just too cute. We have eight children and jumped into goats, too. We bought pregnant mamas so my kids got to be involved all the way. Amazing. Anyway, one was a runt who ended up being a house goat – small, adorable, bottle fed, the whole nine yards. The flip side is that we had a house goat and all the mess and neediness that went with it. When I decided that she needed to go out, the only place she wanted to be was inside and she cried, a lot. Sooo, you might consider putting your two handsome boys outside as soon as you can. That was a hard lesson for us to learn. Enjoy them! It was an experience that my children will never forget!

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