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    Goat Progress

    February 14, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]E[/dropcap]ver since we bought our goats, my husband and I have been going around in circles over what to do about storage. We have literally been bursting at the seams with supplies: barrels of barley, bales of hay, odds and ends like hoof trimmers and harnesses and leashes. The list goes on! We agreed early on that I needed my own shed, as his was already full of lawn care items like rakes, hoes, mowers, shovels, and so on.


    Shed, Sweet Shed

    But what to do? On the one hand, my husband’s shed is one of the less expensive metal kinds. They can be purchased for two-hundred-fifty or three hundred dollars. This is the upside. They can take up to 10 hours for two men to assemble. This is the downside.

    We figured that our competence has greatly increased since he put together his first shed years ago, but even then it’d probably take six hours. We both agreed that the ideal would be one of those heavy duty outdoor snap-together sheds made of plastic.

    The trouble with those is that they cost twice–and usually more like three times–the amount of a metal shed.

    A thousand dollars was our total budget for start-up costs. There was no way we could dish out eight hundred dollars for a shed alone.

    What to do?

    I searched on Craigslist and the classifieds for weeks, and never found anything that perfectly fit our needs.

    So we gave up. We agreed to purchase a metal shed sometime this month, and plan a Saturday to put it together in March. The only other obstacle was food preparation, as I would be the second “man” on the job. I offered to provide leftovers for lunch, and Siah agreed to buy pizza for dinner.

    I wasn’t thrilled with this solution, but it was a solution nonetheless.

    On Thursday I called my husband. I had found cheap hay on Craiglist! {Yes, it seems like I buy almost everything on Craigslist.} The alfalfa was cheap compared to feed store prices {$7/bale less}, and the grass hay {which our feed store doesn’t even carry, but our does like} was even cheaper. If I could buy four bales, I’d save myself at least $30 over the long term.

    But we didn’t have a place to store it all!


    So imagine my surprise {and delight} when my Craigslist search {all searches generate an RSS feed to which you can subscribe — I have shared this secret with you all before!} turned up the Perfect Shed. Heavy duty outdoor plastic. Already assembled. The perfect size: 6 x 8. Same price we had budgeted for a metal shed.

    my new shed


    We scrambled around, Si and the seller moving the shed to our place in the dark, and didn’t eat dinner until almost 7:00 pm. But when all was said and done, I had my very own shed.

    Isn’t she cute?

    There are some things here that I hadn’t thought I needed, but will be such a blessing over the long term. This is especially true of the windows {one on each side} and the skylight {which is basically a part of the roof that is translucent}. Today was very cloudy, but there was plenty of light in the shed. I compare this to my husband’s shed, in which I practically need a flashlight in the middle of the day.


    Nourishing … and Organized, Too!

    alfalfa hay and grass hay

    “new” shelves

    This, of course, snowballed into me being able to store up some hay, so we ran out Saturday and bought the cheap grass and alfalfa hay I mentioned, and now we are brimming with feed for the next few months!

    In addition, Uncle Nick was kind enough to bring us over some castoff shelves, and by tomorrow all the supplies for the grain ration and mineral licks will be out of my pantry.

    Perhaps I will be able to close the door again.


    On Mineral Licks

    So I’m reading Coleby’s Natural Goat Care and it’s been so exciting to learn about how to take care of these babies. One of the issues I’ve bumped up against, though, in trying to apply Coleby’s wisdom to my own property is that there is an underlying assumption that the reader will have a paddock on which the goats are grazing. Technically, we do plan to fill our currently empty garden beds with alfalfa and buffalo grass, but the amount of feed this will provide is nominal at best.

    The reason this is important is because it is emphasized that the farmer must know the mineral condition of his own pasture, and supplement the goats with whatever is missing {not to mention fix the soil problem}. Well, I am sure the farmers we are buying hay from have mineral problems, but who knows what they are. And I haven’t bought hay from the same place twice. Coleby suggested adjusting the mineral licks and/or mineral supplements based upon this knowledge, but I had no idea how to do this in our situation.

    At the same time, I was also keeping track of all the minerals that Coleby either suggested feeding often, or said should be available ad lib {dolomitic lime and seaweed meal come to mind}. I did a little search to find other farmers using Coleby’s mineral lick recipe, and I found complaints that the goats didn’t eat it straight. They would try to separate the minerals out, leaving behind copper or sulfur or whatever it was they didn’t want.

    It dawned on me that I’d rather have five or six separate buckets out there, and just see what happens. Perhaps they would just take what they need as they need it.

    But I knew from having an ad lib kelp granule bucket out there that they would make a mess of it, kicking it around when they were bored, or accidentally tipping it over when they were fighting {yes, they fight}.

    It finally dawned on me that a flower box with individual little pots would be ideal.

    my version of a mineral lick

    I didn’t need to buy one this cute, but it was on sale and actually the cheapest outdoor box available.

    There are buckets for baking soda, kelp, MSM or yellow sulfur {right now we are using MSM}, copper sulfate, and dolomitic lime powder {also called dolomite}.

    In case you were wondering, the rocks in the photo are to keep out neighborhood chihuahuas. I am not kidding. It was quite a problem when we first moved in.

    Each pot is about five or six inches wide, which makes it perfect for a goat’s head. They are just low enough for the does to lick from, without being low enough for them to get them very dirty. The whole area is under a tarp so that it is protected from rain. It doesn’t rain a lot here, but Coleby was very clear that most of these minerals ought to remain dry.

    I feed cider vinegar and ascorbic acid regularly still, but it is nice not to be measuring out tons of minerals with every feed.


    In All…

    I have been amazed to see God bless this project. In this shed, He gave me more than I expected, and than I deserved.

    It is amazing what a difference good husbandry makes. Coleby mentioned that skittish animals would be more easily tamed once they were fed enough dolomite {which contains calcium and magnesium}. Our formerly “wild” kids are now friendly and allowing us to pet them. They are not well trained {yet}, but they are so much tamer than they were two weeks ago, before the dolomite arrived.

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  • Reply Jennifer Jancek April 13, 2017 at 4:21 am

    I have Coleby’s book and really appreciate the info especially the specific minerals he uses. I have been considering separating the minerals too but until this point have just been mixing in the extra minerals into their loose mineral. With them separated, what have you experienced? Are your goats eating the copper or sulfur? Love to hear more.

  • Reply Joann kleinpeter January 24, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Thank you great info on feed Do not know what dolmite. Is and why woul they be tamed? Am 80 my son thought this would keep me busy Lol. Thanks am always learing

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 24, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Dolomite powder is ground up dolomite stone which is a combination of calcium and magnesium. I think the taming effect is because magnesium, especially is calming.

      Glad we could help keep you busy. 🙂

  • Reply Rebekah May 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    We are getting two nigerian dwarf goats in a couple weeks. Today we pick up ducks and chickens. I’m glad I’ve been reading your posts for years now and when faced with getting goats and no info. here is where I came first! Thanks for sharing your experience for the benefit of others.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Oh, how fun, Rebekah! You will love them. They can be so sweet. I highly recommend Coleby’s goat book. It has been indispensable for us!

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... February 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    How cool! God cares about the little things in our lives too! 🙂

    I was wondering about goat photos also! 😉

  • Reply Rahime February 15, 2012 at 6:23 am

    ah well, next time then.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I’m glad the rss is working out for you! Trust me, it is *highly unlikely* I’d suggest anything too techie as I rarely know what I am doing. 🙂

    There are no new photos of the goats because…I ran out of memory when I was taking the photos! I actually took one, and then deleted it so I could take a picture of the mineral licks. 🙂 Si was nagging me about uploading the photos from a party we threw and I put it off and…now no goat photos. 🙁 Oh well.

    Happy CL shopping! 🙂

  • Reply Rahime February 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    By the way, Why are there no new pictures of your goats in this post? 😉 Love the mineral-feeder. Lots of dog people use various sorts of plant stands to raise the dog food bowls. Oh, and I’m jealous that you have your very own shed.

  • Reply Rahime February 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm


    I remember you mentioning the rss thing before and just before my eyes glazed over in “that sounds too complicated and techie for me,” I thought, “wow, that would be useful.” Then the eye-glaze kicked in and the whole thing was quickly forgotten.

    This time, I determined to try it. I reminded myself that if a child could do it–not you, many of my students use rss subscriptions for various things–so could I. I quickly realized how foolish I have been not to use this much earlier (and it was so, super-easy to set up). Craigslist search for “cloth diapers” (my latest addiction) saved. Now to do more. Soon my google reader will be cluttered up with all sorts of distractions. 😉

    Thank you.

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