One of the projects at the farm this spring was to rebuild the fence around the goat’s spring pasture. This pasture is basically a chunk of the forest, just a short walk past the hayfield. The goats seem to love clambering around the rocky terrain, and eating as much wild food as their many stomachs can hold!

The herd spent many days out there last year, but one of the big problems was that they’d get scared, bored, or just homesick, and manage to find their way out before the end of the day. You could be working in the garden and suddenly you’d hear the jingle of their bells in the hayfield next to the vegetable gardens. (Luckily, they never quite made it to the gardens before being caught!)

Good fences are hard to build on this rocky, mountainous terrain. In most places, you hit ledge no more than a few inches below the soil’s surface, so it’s often next to impossible to get a fencepost sturdy. Added to that, the lay of the land is so rough in spots that it’s often surprisingly easy to nudge the page-wire fence enough for an entire goat to fit through. Goats sure like to play find-the-hole-in-the-fence, especially if they’re determined.

So this year, Rodney decided to do it right and add an extra level of protection: electric fence! This one is powered by a little solar panel. It’s a kit that has the charger, panel, and battery all included:

Solar electric fence charger

We still have our regular page wire fence, which Laire and Rodney rebuilt and made as sturdy as possible, but inside of that are two strands of electrified wire as well.

Before letting the goats loose on the pasture, we waited until a substantial amount of foliage had budded out. Bring them here too early, and they might have stripped the vegetation beyond its capacity to regenerate.

So far, the fence seems to be working! It’s not fun seeing the goats discover the electric wire for the first time. But now having gotten used to it over the last couple weeks, they’ve learned to avoid it.

Notch and Mocha enjoying mouthfuls of fresh forageLeading the goats home from pasture

Now there’s plenty of space for the herd to run around and explore, and forage to fill their bellies, just the way goats ought to live. It’s wonderful to see. By the end of the day, they’re pretty exhausted, and Mocha and Notch look forward to coming back to the barn for milking. The two eagerly lead the farmers and the rest of the herd back home. And there’s more milk at the end of the day than ever.

About Farmer Paul

Paul grew up in a yuppie-laden Toronto suburb, though he lucked out having been raised by eccentrics who rejected the neighbourhood status quo and converted the lawn into organic gardens. In his starry-eyed 20s, his obsession with living sustainably subdued his interest in high-tech anything (somehow scraping by with a computer science degree all the same). His interest in farming was piqued while apprenticing at Everdale, an organic farm in Ontario, and studying permaculture design in BC. He's since operated three market gardens, and now takes a lead in garden management and cheesemaking at Snow Lake Keep.

One response to “A grazing goat is a glad goat

  1. So great to see your farm and the goats! Beautiful! Love the goats 🙂
    I now really want to make some fiddleheads – going to try your recipe this weekend!
    Thanks for a great day in NS. Miss you guys but happy to see you’re doing well and happy in beautiful Nova Scotia.
    See you soon soon x

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