The Humblebee Farm Goats

One of the first “farm” animals I wanted when we moved to Humblebee Farms was goats. Goats are not only ridiculously cute and playful, but they are also great brush clearers. And with 96 acres – most of those acres a dense thicket of yaupon holy – I need all the help I can get with brush clearing.

The Humblebee Farm Goats

Back in July we introduced Bonnie and Clyde as the new Humblebee Farm Goats. Both are Nigerian Dwarf goats that we got from Heavenly Acres Farm and Ranch. We weren’t sure if we were really ready, but we went for goats anyways – and we are so glad we did!

Both Bonnie and Clyde have settled in well. We are still working to enforce good habits (like discouraging Bonnie’s crying). But overall, they’ve quickly become an integral part of our farm life.

The Daily Rhythm

Each night they sleep in a primary pen a couple hundred feet from the back door. Coyotes are always present here, so this was considered when we decided where to put the goats. We converted a large dog kennel into a goat shelter, putting up canvas walls on two sides to block excessive wind. For a bed, we topped a pallet with a piece of plywood and use pine needles as bedding. During these colder months we added a 4′ circular metal raised bed with an opening in the front to offer extra protection from the elements.

But during the day the goats go to a day pen – a temporary paddock of sorts – that we move every 4 weeks or so. The paddock is 200 feet of electric netting formed in a rough oval. For shelter we are using a pop-up canopy that we keep low to the ground by only partially extending the legs. For fun and sleep we keep a couple of rubber stock tanks turned over. These are easy to use and durable – and easy to find at your local Tractor Supply store.

This system has worked well and its now part of the daily rhythm to walk the goats to their day pen and back every night. While this may seem like an extra chore, it’s actually one of my favorite tasks. Why? Because besides being cute, Bonnie and Clyde have some serious personalities!

Clyde the Goat

Clyde munches on some yaupon holly

Clyde is my domestic gazelle. Not only does his coloring remind me of a gazelle (especially those dark streaks under his eyes), but also the way he runs, springing in the air as he goes. Clyde is playful, strong and loves food.

Sometimes Clyde can take play a bit far though and will try to head-butt Todd or myself. We’ve been careful to not encourage the behavior during play. But as essentially a teenage boy, he sometimes get’s a bit excited and doesn’t want to stop. Clyde likes to crouch down, much like a big puppy dog and juke back and forth before playfully charging. The couple of times that he’s succeeded in a full on head-butt it hasn’t been very hard – which is good. But still, we want to make sure that as he grows it doesn’t become a bigger issue.

Clyde’s other favorite game? Tag! He loves being chased and chasing back. It’s amazing the burst of energy he displays when he takes off at full speed from one end of the paddock to the other. This is one reason why we have to walk the goats between pens with a leash. Because if he isn’t on a leash, Clyde tends to think it’s a game and is extremely difficult to catch when he doesn’t want to be caught! This can be problematic when it’s getting dark fast and he wont go into his pen.

Bonnie the Goat

We couldn’t pass up Bonnies ice-blue eyes and spunky personality!

Bonnie is my little fun loving, but not-too-smart girl. Todd jokes she’s a walking piƱata. And she certainly looks like it with her round shape and tiny legs sticking out! If you didn’t already notice, Bonnie is a runt. Next to Clyde, Bonnie dwarfs in size (pun intended). The funny part? Bonnie is actually 2 weeks senior to Clyde.

We were just ever so slightly concerned with Bonnie when we first brought her home to the farm. Starting off so much smaller, we weren’t sure how she and Clyde would get along separated from the rest of their herd. Clyde has fairly sizable horns, while Bonnie has just wee little nubs.

Bonnie also started out with low energy. Oh, she was energetic when it came to eating! But the rest of the time she just kind of dawdled. I would have to coax her to walk faster than 0.002 miles per hour when traveling between pens. This while Clyde was bouncing up and down in anticipation! She also cries quite a bit. At first I’m pretty sure it was sadness from separating from her family. Now it’s usually because she’s out of food, is cold or just wants to know where you are. Like Clyde’s head-butting, we are constantly working to discourage this behavior.

Recently though, Bonnie has exhibited a new found high gear – and now competes with Clyde for the fastest one to the pen. She’s also started to play. Her little leaps and twists are enough cuteness to bring you to your knees!

But the hallmark of Bonnie is her love: love of food and love of you. She LOVES LOVES LOVES to eat. And loves almost as much to be with her humans. She’s the goat that will walk right up to strangers, look up and say “Hi!” in her own little way.

Settling In

Both Bonnie and Clyde have their own unique personalities that have endeared them here on the farm. Clyde with his rambunctious yet steady demeanor and Bonnie with her light-hearted and gentle ways. And now that the Humblebee Farm goats are all settled in, naturally we are thinking about adding more goats! It’s a lot like chicken math: you always need more.

But for now I’m resisting the urge. Instead, we are working hard to train them proper and streamline our routine so they are easy to care for. Over time I’m sure we will add to the herd (as well as other types of animals). But as far as goats come, we got pretty lucky with our Bonnie and Clyde.