September 14, 2009

Meet Rooster and Peanut

As I fantasize and ponder upon one day living full time at our Ranch, I envision what critters we will add to our menagerie. I've loved horses since I was a little girl and always dreamed of having one, but now that I'm older and wiser, I'm not so sure that would be such a smart choice. Horses can be expensive to maintain, difficult to train, and can live into their 30s. Given all that, I probably wouldn't turn one away if the circumstances were right and I felt I could devote the time and energy needed to give a horse a proper life. So, back to my list of Ranch critters. I have most recently become fascinated with goats. Not just any goats, mind you. Pack goats. That's right, pack goats. Goats that can be trained to carry a fourth of their body weight in gear when hiking. They can also be trained to pull carts and wagons. They are more agile and sure-footed than horses or mules and leave a much lighter footprint on the earth. They are loyal and hard-working. They are intelligent. And they are so darn cute.

Meet Rooster. Isn't he adorable?

No, Rooster is not my goat. He belongs to a guy named Steve who happens to live about 20 minutes north of me. You see, when I began my obsession with pack goats, I scoured the Internet for all the information I could find (which is very limited), and looked for people who have experience with pack goats so I could pick their brains.

Peanut and Rooster do tricks for treats.

Lucky for me, I found Steve through his You Tube videos which feature his hiking expeditions with his goats, Rooster and Peanut. Steve is a Ham radio enthusiast and loves to go out on long, sometimes treacherous, hikes in the glorious Colorado mountains. Since Ham radio operating requires a good bit of equipment, Steve taught Rooster and Peanut how to pack his equipment and camping gear, thereby allowing him to pack in and out more than if he were backpacking alone. And if that weren't cool enough, Steve has a "goat cam" he straps onto Peanut during their hikes, allowing us viewers to see their mountain treks through the eyes of a goat. Pretty darn amazing, I must say.

Peanut, master videographer, pausing for a good butt scratch on a brush mounted in the barn.

Pack goats are most commonly wethers (neutered males) from the larger dairy goat breeds. A typical pack goat can weigh 180-200 pounds, and can pack 40-50 pounds of gear, once properly trained and conditioned. Goats are fairly inexpensive to maintain, although packing gear can add up, and they require minimal acreage and housing. The average life expectancy of a goat is comparable to a dog, at 10-12 years. Goats have been used in other countries as pack animals for centuries, and they are ideal for the back country and rough terrain. Packing with goats is still relatively new in the United States, but it is gaining in popularity thanks to various organizations and individuals who are sold on the idea.

If you want to learn more about pack goats, here are a few links to check out:
North American Packgoat Association
The Packgoat Forum
Wind River Pack Goats
Steve's Pack Goats and Ham Radio Adventures (here you can view Peanut and Rooster in action)

"Would you move it, already?"

The more I learn about pack goats, the more I like. But, until we can figure out a way to get to The Ranch on a more permanent basis, I'll have to live vicariously through other folks, such as Steve. But, just like Peanut in the picture above, I am not giving up on my dreams. I will continue to butt my head in protest until I get my way!

8 comments:

jasperlilith said...

i have warned jon that i would like a goat or two when we have the acreage... i would love to experiment with goat cheese!

those pack goats are very cool and durable looking!

i also love the idea of the goat cam - that would be interesting to watch...

cousin Arnetta said...

thanks to daune, she showed me how to get on your blog... We had a pair of goats when the boys were in school... they played head butt with the billy using a football helmet... took a week to get the billygoat stink off of them :-) they were fun tho, playful and comical

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

Rooster and Peanut are so darn cute!! I love goats. My parents have always had goats and I desperately want some here - but I haven't quite convinced B *yet*. I may end up living vicariously through YOU when you get yours!

Lilla said...

Daune, I've thought about getting milking goats but they have to be milked twice a day, every day, and I'm not sure I want to get that involved in farming! I do like goat cheese, though!

Arnetta, so glad Daune showed you how to comment. I love comments! The goats you had must have been non-castrated bucks. Those are the ones that smell awful. The castrated ones, like I want, don't really have a smell at all. And even better, their poop doesn't have much of a smell either!

Penny, maybe you could convince Bernie into goats by reminding him how good they are at yard maintenance and weed pulling. And the bigger ones could be trained to pull a cart around loaded with firewood--less work for B! Also, if you got milking goats you would have an abundant supply of milk, cheese, soap and lotion. Very economical, don't you think? I'm sure Bernie will come to his senses one day soon!

jasperlilith said...

see, i didn't even know they took that much milking - i figure i will start my farming research when it gets closer to being a reality...

chickens are on my list as well...

but for now, i just like to thing BIG :)

Lilla said...

Daune, oh yes, chickens are MOST DEFINITELY on my list. Neal has already been warned that his wonderfully built and insulated green shed would make a fabulous chicken coop! I say if you don't dream big, then what's the use?

frugalmom said...

How cool is that that you found someone so close to your own ranch. Thats amazing. And wow. Those look like some big goats. I bet they could pack quite a bit if they were trained properly. I am so excited for you to get some goats now!!

And Penny...I think you need some goats. You have all that great land out there...just think of how helpful they could be. You should ask B. I mean, I would never think to ask him for you...I know he doesnt pay attn to anything I say....

Lilla said...

frugalmom, Steve lives very close to my current home in the city, not close to The Ranch. But, I'm thrilled to have found someone with pack goats who is so close! Steve invited us to go on a hike with him, R&P one day and hopefully we can do that before the weather gets too cold!

Yes, I agree that Penny needs to work harder on getting Bernie to accept goats on their homestead. I mean really, what's another critter or two when you have so much land? I hear that goats and chickens getting along very well...