Introducing: Ponder

Wren on May 29th, 2014

No complicated adventure in simple living is complete without a baby goat. Them’s the rules. So allow me to introduce Ponderosa Impala, Ponder for short!

I had no idea that we would add goats back into our lives any time soon. As renters, and without a firm plan for our cash-flow, we had back-burnered getting new goats. Besides, our grief from losing our pygmies Wicca and Niabi is still fresh.

We had told our landlords about our life with goats. They actually had been thinking of getting some for brush clearing around their property (their house and ours) especially because of the bumper crop of poison oak. C.T. and I were excited about brush goats as a solution to the poison oak. As soon as we moved in, our dog Tuatha carried the oils into the cabin and Papa C.T. erupted into an impressive rash on both arms. As the less allergic partner, I wasn’t looking forward to pulling up the thousands of poison oak plants that continue to creep toward our walls. Besides getting rid of that threat, we just enjoy life with goats.

After a few conversations with our landlords about the cost and responsibility of goats we decided to share a micro herd of three or four dairy goats. Because we are in country with large predators—coyotes, bears, mountain lions, etc., we agreed the herd would include a trained Livestock Guard Dog. If the first herd member is any indication, much blogging will follow!

Ponder is a two week old doe from a large scale dairy on the other side of Chico. She was in a pen with about thirty other newborns, Like all the others she was taken from her mother at birth and bottle-fed. All the does were crowded in the barn. I don’t know how much outside time they get. Ponder’s life will be different. I’ll continue

While she waits to move to the barn, we are her herd. She has a crate in the house and a movable playpen in the yard.

her bottle feedings for another six weeks. I’ve known about bottle babies for a long time but I never made the commitment until now. Although I think she should get all of her mother’s milk, I’m enjoying this unique relationship and I’m glad that this discarded goat is on the track for long and happy life.

Ponder is a perfect baby. She transitioned from her barn to the car with minimal drama. The dairy’s Livestock Guard Dog tried to eat Tuatha. But other than that, smooth. Very little crying compared to my first goat, Tabitha, nearly twenty-five years ago or so. But Tabby was older. I adopted her at weaning. Being so young, Ponder has bonded with me and C.T. and Tuatha very quickly, following us around like a little long legged shadow. Leeloo, our cat, is another story. With the baby goat being just barely taller than her, Leeloo feels pretty threatened. Plus, all of a sudden she’s the middle child. ‘Nuff said.

Long legs and a long road ahead of her...

At two weeks old, Ponder is already nibbling plants she encounters, getting ready for her job as a brush goat. While Ponder eats, grows, and waits for her herd to arrive, I’llĀ continue to research temporary fencing and plan adaptations to our landlords’ horse barn. We have an appointment to visit with a friend of a friend who does brush goats for a living. She has LGD pups trained and ready for new homes. We’ll see!

Who will join her? We’ll probably get wethers, castrated males. Ouch, I know. It sounds cruel. But it actually gives male goats not desirable for breeding a chance at life. Unaltered bucks have a strong odor, are often aggressive and urinate on themselves. Intentionally. Most humans find them hard to live with and with only about one in a thousand bucks being saved for breeding, weathering removes all these unwelcome traits and saves many from slaughter by making them very friendly, affectionate goats. They make great pets, companion animals for solitary horses, etc., and brush goats! Over the decades that I had pygmy goats, half were does and half were wethers.

I was attracted to pygmies for their dwarf size. Patti, my partner at the time I started, insisted I could not have a pet I couldn’t carry by myself, in case of emergency. That’s always made good sense to me and I have stuck to it. but little Ponder is an Alpine dairy goat. She’ll grow to about one hundred thirty pounds. Larger goats will be a new experience for me!

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