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Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

Where did it come from?

Buckthorn is a species of plant that was brought to North America as a landscaping plant, it had been used in Europe for hundreds of years.  It was thought to make wonderful hedges, as it is fast growing and, grows in thick, making an impenetrable hedge.  Additionally Buckthorn flowers in the spring, providing berries for birds, and even holds onto them into winter.

Is it really issue?

Buckthorn has a vast root system which out competes native plants for water and nutrients.  As it grows quickly to create a canopy shading out the other species.  This pushes out many natives species that had been supporting the local wildlife.  Causing the area under the Buckthorn to become dark and barren.

Once a stand of Buckthorn is established it is hard to remove it.  The berries that the birds contain seeds that the birds conveniently spread enveloped in a bit of fertilizer to help the Buckthorn seed get off to a good start.  Once the seed is spread it has a long life and can stay in the soil for up to five years.  This one one reason why Buckthorn is not removed from an area just by cutting it down, in fact it gives the new seed a perfect opportunity to start sprouting.

One of the other reasons Buckthorn is hard to remove is its ability to come back from roots left in the ground, or even from the stump.  The stump will use some of the energy stored in root system to send up multiple new shoots, enabling the trees to aggressively start over.   It can be beat though, through repetitive cuttings or grazing wearing away the energy stored in the root system.

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Keeping the Goats Safe and In Place

“Do I  stay out with the goats to contain and protect them?”

When we get a site ready for the goats, the first thing we do is set up the fence.  This ensures the goats stay in the desired area and are protected from wildlife or stray dogs that may be in the area.

What is the fence?

  • The fence we use is an electronet fence.  It is a white and black netting that comes in rolls with posts already attached.  This flexible modular fence allows us to set up our fence to accommodate each sites specific needs and terrain.
  • The fence is powered by a fence energizer, that is powered by a battery.  This way we don’t need to be close to a power source or out in the open for a solar panel to work.  The battery is switched with a freshly charged battery as needed to keep the fence energized for optimum performance.

How does it work?

  • For the goats the fence is a psychological barrier.  Once the goats are trained to the fence they avoid it. This prevents the goats from challenging the fence to get greens on the other side.
  • For the predators who may be checking the fence and thinking a goat looks like a good snack, they find out that the fence is quite a shocker and look for an easier meal elsewhere.
  • The shock is uncomfortable, but won’t harm people or pets who get to close to it, but I wouldn’t recommend testing the shock, believe me, I have accidentally tested it on a few occasions.
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My $500 is Running Down the Road…

The Goat Chronicles

Everyone who has goats has a story.  Some good, some not so good, but they are all memorable.  The Goat Chronicles are our’s.

It was time to find a new buck for our herd as we had lost Chewy.  After searching I came up with a Kiko buck, that looked quite majestic.  After a few messages back and fourth the day came to go check him out, and bring him home.  Upon seeing him, you could tell he was a king in his harem, and he didnt want to leave.  He was wild in there and it took three of us with a rope and a calf catcher to get ahold of him and load him on the trailer.  Already, I could tell it was going to be intereesting when we got home and had to unload him.  We ended up getting two other does from the herd and that seemed to calm him in the trailer.

Once we got home it was fairly easy to get a rope around the two does and get them into a stall.  As I walked back into the trailer I thought, this won’t be so bad, since he had just stood there while I brought the does out.  I was wrong.  As I got around the sort gate with a rope in hand, he made his move before I even had a chance to make mine.  He made a break for the sort gate that Nicole was trying to hold.  230lb charging goat vs. 120lb woman who was slipping on the straw to hold the gate.  He blew right through her best efforts to hold the gate and he was gone out the back, as the rear man was not sure what was going on and the tail gate was open.

Down the driveway he went, and headed straight for the goat barn, but was stopped by the fence that was up around the barn.  It should be easy now to corner and catch him, after all he wanted in the pen to find the girls we brought home with him.  We resituated ourselves and went at him with a goat catcher and two ropes between three of us.  He was as wise as his beard makes him look, and would not be fooled.  He bolted over the snow pile and then through the electric fence, which unknowingly to us, happened to be shorted out at the time, and headed out.  Nicole couldn’t believe I had convinced her to buy this Buck, which was now running away unimpeded by our fences.  She was beyond mad as she yelled, “There goes my $500, running away”, as he cut to the road for a quick get away.

Hot on his tail I was not going to loose him, you wouldn’t want to face your wife if you let her investment run away either, so I kept running.  I almost caught up to him running down the middle of our road. But, when he noticed I was there he put on the after burneres and took up and then cut into my neighbors yard.  Being farther behind I could see where he was headed and I cut him off around a snow pile as he throught about going between two sheds, so he charged into our neighbor’s three stall shop wtih quite alot of crashing, as objectes tumbled.

Mind you, I have never met this neighbor and he came out to find me standing in his garage, winded and staring at a goat in the back corner.  This garage was far from spotless as there were things everywhere and due to a drain not working and the snow melt, had standing water in it.  Quickly, saying “Hi, Nice to meet you I am Matt”, I was ready to make my move.  He was cornered finally, but there was no way he was going to let me near him and a wall of stuff was between us.  We stared at each other, waiting for the first one to make a move.  Eventually my dad wandered by wondering where we had gone.  The neighbor, who my dad thought was yelling at him for being in his yard, got his attention. He had the rope, which I got from him and  I made a loop to try and lassoe the goat.  Very uncowboy like, and after several tries got him lassoed, and wouldn’t you know it, he let me walk right up to him.

We were able to get him out of the garage and back home.  Walking him like a bizarre dog between the two of us right down the road and into the stall with his ladies, whom we hoped would keep him happy enough not to try andything else.  Come morning though, the latched stall was open and he was standing at the barn door watching over his new harem.