Monday, October 18, 2010

Life with Goats

Living in Rarotonga has brought us many joys. One of which is goats. We love goats.

Our first exposure to goats was through our neighbours'. They had two goats, which then became four goats, which has now become seven goats! Libby & Duke had twins in 2009 (KiiKii & Lulu) & triplets in 2010 (Edward & Pax & Duke Jr).

Goats are the cutest pets in the world. They are also one of the easiest to manage.  Provide shelter & water and the rest is taken care of.

After KiiKii & Lulu were born next door we were sold on getting our own goats. Nick had a friend at work (Steve) that was able to give us two young goats. We wanted two as goats are herd animals and enjoy company.

I still remember the day we got our two new goats. Steve drove up our driveway in his truck with the two cutest little twin goats you have ever seen. Strapped & tied to each other for the journey. Steve untied them and placed them on the section opposite ours. This section was actually the main reason why we got the goats. We live in the bush and this particular section was overgrown and causing us problems. The problems were rats. Rats love overgrown bush to live in & the coconuts continually falling from the trees into this bush were like Christmas for them. So following pest control advice, we got our dear landlord to clear the section & we decided to get goats to manage the grass for us. Before we got our new goats, Nick made this wonderful little house as shelter for them to stay in at night and when the weather got bad. Our neighbour had these for his goats and we felt it was important for their comfort & shelter.

Nick constructing the house/shelter
Moving into position
Steve moved our new goats to their very own section & left us with the job of new goat owners.
We sat looking at our new beauties and christened them with names, Barron (the boy) & Chloe (the girl).
Before the goats arrived we had seen how easy it was to manage goats so we envisaged a simple goat herding experience. Well we were wrong! The first night was one of the most traumatic experiences for us. Barron was scared to death and huddled as close to Chloe as possible, while Chloe was crying and screaming for her Mummy. You may be thinking right now that surely goats don't scream - well Chloe does! We had a screamer! Poor Chloe was crying and screaming like a tortured child. It took everything in us to contain ourselves from putting Barron & Chloe into our car and dropping them back at Steves'. Luckily Chloe stopped howling at about 11pm.

Barron & Chloe huddling together

The next day our goat herding woes continued. Not only did we have a screamer but the other one (Barron) turned out to be the only goat in existence that refused to be tethered. Barron was scared silly of the rope! They were 5 months old when they came to us and had been roaming free since birth at Steves', so Barron was not happy. He would pull to the very end of his rope and stand there like a mutant for hours and hours, keeping as still as a mouse (hoping that the rope would just go away). The only thing we can think of is that Barron thinks that the rope is "following" him and gives him the spooks.  So our easy going goats became hard work & expensive as Nick set out to make a fence all around their section.

Once the fence was done we felt alot better knowing our new babies were not going to be tethered all day, they would be free to roam the  Barron & Chloe were wild when we got them, Steve had never tamed them, so we had to start the hard task of taming them. This would involve us taking a towel, covering ourselves with insect repellent & sitting in their section with them for about an hour each day. Each week Chloe & Barron would inch closer and closer. Goats are naturally curious & of course we would provide them with treats (leaves). They learnt slowly that we were the bearers of yummy things, so they grew to like us and now love us :).  6 weeks later we had relatively tamed goats.

In the photo above you can see Nick's talent in creating a playground for the goats. Random logs found around, carefully positioned for jumping on and off...our babies LOVE these!

We have now had our goats for over a year. They have grown bigger & are causing more trouble as well as having the reputation on the island as the most pampered goats here. Most likely they are the only goats on the island not tethered. They have regular "visits" and "playtime" outside of their pen. They get taken out for play and food early every morning and delivered back to their pen at dusk. Every night they go to bed with tummy's wide and full. They have houses for shelter & still snuggle together from time to time. Every now and then they will attempt to break free from their pen, sometimes successful. The fence has had to be upgraded regularly, fixing any weak points.


Both goats have their own special personality. Barron (no matter how hard we have tried) still tries to remains stubborn & refuse to come to us and runs away unless we have food to bribe him with. Chloe is our queen. She loves company & enjoys us visiting her for cuddles and scratches.  Barron was this island's lucky first goat for getting castrated at the volunteer vet clinic. Poor thing, he was their guinea pig, but he survived the ordeal, although he has never been quite the same since. He is very random and skittish.
We plan to mate Chloe with our one of the male goats next door in the future.

Chloe - my queen