When I moved to Quibeyn Farm the view entering the property was beautiful and green (yes, Virginia, there is green in the desert.) Unfortunately, most of the verdant green at the east end of the property was tamarisk, a/k/a salt cedar, and weeds. While Tamarisk is not the complete villain that many believe, it is an invasive species not native to New Mexico and like many unwanted visitors, very difficult to push out once in the door.
I had several reasons for purchasing goats rather than sheep my first Spring. One of the purposes in buying goats was that I knew they would be more efficient in controlling the weeds and underbrush and I knew that they would eat salt cedar. I also hoped that with horns, the goats would be better able to protect themselves from predators.
So in May 2008 I made arrangements to purchase eight older nannies of various dairy goat breeds and four of their kids from that spring which were boer crosses. The kids would be wethered (castrated) prior to delivery and so I went home to erect a pen to contain the goats when they weren’t out browsing.
It would be a couple of more months before I had sufficient pasture fenced to contain the goats unsupervised so when the goats were delivered, Tuck and I spent a couple of hours in the morning and again in the evening outside supervising the goats when they were out of the pen. Tuck, a young English Shepherd, had never worked stock other than chickens before, and these were tough goats not inclined to pay much attention to a dog that didn’t have cajones.
Luckily Tuck has cajones and he grew up fast learning how to control those goats.
Unfortunately, I discovered that horned goats are not less susceptible to predators; I lost almost half the goats that summer to coyotes and mountain lions. Horned goats are also more likely to get tangled in fences (the grass is always greener on the other side syndrome) and I lost a couple more goats when I didn’t find them soon enough to disentangle them and they broke their necks in fences.
Lesson Three: Even goats that will challenge a dog are still no match for serious predators