Saturday, September 4, 2010

what to do about finn...

I pulled into the driveway and there was Finn, coming from behind the house. He was fine but I could see the damage that had been done. The chicken feed container was knocked on its side, the remaining vegetables devoured, strawberries I planted by the door gone, and a rhubarb plant torn to shreds. How Finn knew to not eat the leaves is beyond me. The stalks were gone and the floor of the planter littered with the poisonous leaves. Had he not been such a clever goat he'd be dead.

I am starting to seriously consider rehoming Finn.

I do not take that consideration lightly. After months of waiting for his return I have been doing my very best to accommodate him safely. I have spent hundreds of dollars on fencing equipment and supplies. I have enlisted the help of experienced goat owners. I've read the books, called the vet, and what it all comes down to is this: am I best home for this goat?

If I'm 100% honest I can admit I am not. Finn is well fed, vaccinated, and kept but he lives in a small electric pen with sheep who seem to bore him. He spends his day pacing around looking for something to occupy his mind and time. Yesterday he managed to knock out all the electric fencing wire again in one section, climb out, and destroy property and eat poisonous plants. This is not good.

I know some of you are angry at this idea. We've watched Finn grow up on this blog, people asked me about him for months while he was with Abi (poor Abi, now I understand everything she emailed me about!) or Bobbie. We all adore this little guy, and want to see him thrive, but so far all that has come of this is stress and concern. I put off bringing him here because I wasn't sure my home could hold him. I wasn't prepared (or able) to afford the special accommodations he needs.

I am getting to a point where I can not leave for more than a few hours for fear he'd hurt himself or wander into the road and hurt someone else. I have no idea how I could even drive to PA to visit my family overnight, something I really want to do but can't, because someone has to be here to keep an eye on the electric fences and Finn. And christ, If I got a call that a neighbors' teenager was in the hospital because my stock was out in the road and he swerved into a tree... I can't even begin to wrap my head around that.

People have suggested I build a play structure and get another goat so he can be more content, but that seems unreasonable to me. If this was a dairy goat operation I'd be hammering away at wooden fences and caprine jungle gyms, but this is not a dairy. This is a wool and lamb farm just starting out that happens to host one goat. Acquiring another animal I do not have a use for—other than a babysitter—seems foolish (an expensive) when the profit and point of the farm is sheep. And is he even happy here? Does he want to be in a pen with three sheep? Does he miss the camaraderie of other goats?

This is what I fear. I fear the only reason I have been keeping Finn is because I said I would—not because it's what is best for the farm or the goat. I am torn on what to do and where I would even be able to rehome him. I am not proud of this but understand I am not trying to shirk responsibilities. I am trying to decide what will keep Cold Antler sane.

Your advice and suggestions are welcome. What would you do?


Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 4, 2010 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Sorry I deleted, I wanted to say this: I think you know, another lesson learned. He may be hard to place, since he now has gotten quite good at getting out of myriad fences.

September 4, 2010 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger ashley english said...

whatever you end up deciding to do will be the right decision. "staying the course", as it were, simply because you said you would might reap repercussions you, and finn, wish to avoid. changing one's mind, when the time, place, and situation merit it isn't an admission of failure, it's a testament of character, i've always felt. it's one thing to assume you'll respond a certain way in a given situation; it's an entirely altogether different thing, though, to actually be in the situation and realize you need to reassess currently held beliefs. cold antler farm is YOUR farm, ultimately. the decisions you make, while enjoyable for others to read, are YOURS and your animals. do what you think is right. that's why we all love you so much, anyways, because you stand behind the courage of your convictions.

September 4, 2010 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger sheila said...

It's a hard choice, but I think you already know what needs to be done. Farming is not for the faint of heart.

September 4, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Tough situation, and I know cause I'm in the same boat. I have two pygmy goat kids and one old cantankerous goat. The kids pop right through my non electric fence, the older one finds the holes or worse makes them. Prior to getting Lee they were regularly going on the road and I didn't know what to do so I ended up keeping all three in my barn and letting them out on leads to graze. Turns out that the old goat is the rebellion leader, with her on a lead the kiddies don't venture out. So I've found a new home for her and she'll be leaving sometime this month. Of course then Lee arrived and that put the goats in their place for the most
part, now if I see them out I simply say Lee's name and they run right back in the pasture. My plan is to see if the kids comply when the old goat is gone, otherwise I'll be in a similar situation to you now. The escaping goats are why I fenced in my garden, but then I put the turkeys in there which wasn't such a great idea as they pecked at
it here and there. Sigh.

September 4, 2010 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Please note that I do NOT know about goats, but I do know that they make some seriously heavy duty toys for dogs to occupy themselves (with herding dogs you probably know this...) do you think that some kind of treat dispensing puzzle toy would occupy him for some of the day? Just a thought!

September 4, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I know some will see this as incredibly harsh, and I don't expect you to take my advice, but you asked what we'd do. I'd probably send him to slaughter. Admittedly, it sounds like my dividing line between livestock and pets is more sharply drawn than yours, so I would not have so strong an emotional attachment to this animal. But here are my reasons. From what you've said, this is an awfully difficult animal to house responsibly, and probably only getting moreso as he hones his escape skills. You're not the only one who has had trouble keeping him. If he's not superior breeding stock, there's not much utilitarian purpose for this animal. (And if he IS superior breeding stock, then disregard everything I've said.) My view is that successful farms can afford to treat their productive livestock very well. But start up farms that don't want to spare the expense and effort of ethical husbandry for their critters can scarcely afford "passenger" animals. If I couldn't find a good home willing to shoulder - permanently - that expense and effort, with full knowledge of the challenges, well would be goat in the freezer.

To my mind it's better to give an animal a clean, humane death than to sell it down the line. Even people with good track records and good intentions sometimes sell their animals on. So how could you know where he'd ultimately end up? It would be too many unknowns in the future for me to stomach. And the more I cared about the animal, the more strongly I'd feel about ensuring a humane death after a brief but good life. I wouldn't let any morsel of the animal go to waste. That would be my form of respect.

I hope you can come to a decision you're at peace with.

September 4, 2010 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Kate: Well said, I agree

September 4, 2010 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The last thing you need to worry about is how your readers will react because you decided to move Finn to another farm. I understand your problem and your need to reconcile it.
I do have a suggestion though, how about calling the Beekman Boys? I know you haven't seen the show, but they are a couple of guys that live in Sharon Springs (outside of Utica/Albany area) that happen to own a pretty good sized goat farm. Look them up online. It would probably be my next move if I were you.

September 4, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I think wethers are generally hard to place. Horned wethers doubly so. Fence savvy horned wethers...geesh!

I think you should take some time to work on his packing ability while you're advertising him around. He is a companion animal, make him attractive as such.

September 4, 2010 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...

As much as we all love Finn, I think it is time for him to go. In your situation, I would get rid of him.

September 4, 2010 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger JustCindy said...

Jenna, you are the best for Finn. You will get it right with the fences. I am NOT a farmer but I did raise a daughter that never saw an animal she didn't love. We had two that's right two miniature goats in our backyard, no electric fence. Not once did they get out of the chainlink fence, never tried to wander as far as I know. However, they had each other. Emma and Brodie ran, jumped, butted and played all day with each other. Get Finn a friend, he don't want to play with those sheep.

September 4, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger sash said...

Jenna, so sorry for your stress. My suggestion would be to reread what you just wrote in this post; I think you'll find your answer. You are being honest about the well-being of lives here - yours, Finn's, and possibly others. There's nothing wrong with admitting this might not be right - in the long run you want a healthy, happy goat and healthy, happy farm and you. I'm not a farmer, but a humble person who has had to make decisions that I didn't always want to but were for the best all around. Good luck.

September 4, 2010 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger sash said...

ps...I'm not a fan of electric fences - I've seen many a dog get out of them...

September 4, 2010 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with seagoddess. Follow your heart on this one. Don't worry about what anyone else "thinks" of you.

September 4, 2010 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

In our quest to start our own family farm, I've always heard that you can't have just one goat - they're social animals and need at least one other companion. Sounds like you and Finn would both be better off finding another home for this goat. I can totally understand you not wanting the expense of another goat at your farm, but I think that leaves the remaining option of moving Finn to a place where there are other goats to be goaty around :)

September 4, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Jenna, I fully understand the emotional struggle of relocating farm animals. I just did so with my 2 dearly loved horses that had just become expensive pasture pets because there wasn't the time or space to ride them as they should have been ridden. It was a difficult decision, but in the end they both went to great homes, free of charge, and now I know they're "being horses" again and I don't have the daily physical and emotional struggle of worrying about it all. Finn is causing you that same emotional and physical struggle-I highly recommend doing what you need to do, even though it's not easy!

September 4, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger RayMan said...

If you locked a goat into a bank vault on Friday afternoon, it would be sitting in the lobby of the bank on Monday morning AND all of the furniture in the lobby would have been eaten!
Give him away to any one who will take him!

September 4, 2010 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger 17th stitch said...

I completely understand that you (and your readers) are in love with Finn, but I've always read that you can't keep just one goat. I think that if you can find another good home for him, you should take it.

September 4, 2010 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

1. With bulls if they become steers they settle down - will this work?? I don't know if you've done it or not yet...

2. Get a stake, set it in the middle of the pasture with a long chain - something he can't chew through - like one used for dogs. He can reach food, shelter and not the fence - tie him up when you aren't there.

Lastly, sell him.

Personally, I'd go with #3... He's not happy, you aren't happy, you've both tried so there's no failure by either of you.

September 4, 2010 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

I had goats.
A single horned goat made me tear my hair out.
He used his horns to rip out fencing, hydrolic lines on the tractor, break windows and destroy my best efforts to keep him in a good fenced area.
In my last ditch effort to keep him, I removed the horns and got him another little ( dehorned )goat to keep him happy.
I also used the stake-out method-tethering the biggest weather-- to get rid of brushy plants in the far corners of my land. They did a great job for 14 years.

September 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

Jenna, how awful it must be to consider this for you! There are some good suggestions in these comments for trying to keep him - tethering being one; training him as a pack animal. If I were you, I would sit down and write out what else you are willing to try and how much it will cost you. If those methods fail, at that time I would give him up. But not, as one person suggested, to anyone who would take him, as I'm sure you would not. On the other hand, if there really is no purpose for him other than looking at him, it would be more humane to concentrate on the sheep and give him to someone better suited to take care of high-spirited mischevious animals such Finn. Whatever you do, lesson learned, experience gained, and doing the right thing trumps pride every time.

September 4, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger T said...

I agree with Ashley, whatever you decide will be the right decision. This is your farm and you run the show...we're all spectators standing on the sidelines urging you on. You know in your heart what you need to do.

September 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger T said...

Wow Kate, you said exactly what I was thinking but didn't say!

September 4, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger m said...

I don't know animals well, but from what you've said, it sounds like finding a new home for Finn is the best for everyone and in the tone of your post, it sounds like this is what you intend to do. I hope you find a good home for him!

September 4, 2010 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I'm not offended by the freezer option, but it is a last resort. I don't think he's a problem goat, just a regular goat. Anyone with proper goat-housing would be able to live with him fine. I think it's my farm that can't contain him that's the problem, not him.

I will make some posts hoping to find him a home. Please get the word out, and if any readers with goats are interested: let me know.

September 4, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Put him on Craigslist. Or contact the pack goat club in your area and see if you can find a home for him.

Frankly, he seemed like a bad idea from the get-go. You've made a reasonable effort to provide a home for him but it's getting expensive and silly to keep trying. Live & learn.

September 4, 2010 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

A bit of reality check here - I know it's hard not to become sentimental at times, but a struggling young farm and farmer is not the place for a non-productive AND difficult animal who has no future in turning a profit for you or at least not causing destruction and time wasted that might otherwise be expended on the animals who will pay their way. A lesson learned, and a hard one. I made the same decision a long time ago about a difficult and downright dangerous horse. Not easy, but it has to be done.

September 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jenna you must do what is right for Finn and you and not take to heart what some readers will say. It is your farm and while you love Finn it does not sound like the right environment for him. He needs other goats to fraternize with. It sounds like you have done all you can to make him a safe home but it is time to be realistic that it is not working. Yes, you will miss him but you can't allow your love for him to outweigh the need to keep your fences up to protect your sheep. Good luck with this hard decision.

September 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jenna you must do what is right for Finn and you and not take to heart what some readers will say. It is your farm and while you love Finn it does not sound like the right environment for him. He needs other goats to fraternize with. It sounds like you have done all you can to make him a safe home but it is time to be realistic that it is not working. Yes, you will miss him but you can't allow your love for him to outweigh the need to keep your fences up to protect your sheep. Good luck with this hard decision.

September 4, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Tracy Bruring said...

You are a better woman than I. I would take him to the nearest processor and get at least some of my money back in meat. I know this sounds harsh but like it or not he is a meat animal and you are going to be handing off a goat whose purpose in life now is to escape. You won't be doing anyone any favors by rehoming him.

September 4, 2010 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think your answer is in your post. Now that I have been reading your blog for months, the bottom line is that Cold Antler is YOUR farm, YOUR home. It is not for others to opinion about what is right and wrong. They are not walking the same ground. I think its damn hard to keep an animal like this and work a day job. If you were working from home and could tether him out for land clearing or something useful, that contributes, maybe. Stay focused on what you see as your core path...I've been through this process with a dog, hardest decision I ever made, but he is now happy in the country and I am saner with a calmer house.

September 4, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Hi Jenna
I think this is farming and animal ownership. As harsh as it sounds, our animals exist for us, not the other way around. That's why we have them. IMHO you have enough on your plate without this goat. It feels complicated, but the decision is really simple. He's got to go, one way or another.

September 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...


If Cold Antler Farm is to be a wool and sheep farm and your energy is to be spent making that happen, then I think finding Finn a home in a well-established goat farm operation is, most likely, the best solution. From all I've read, goats are a HERD animal. Finn, obviously, realizes he isn't one of the sheep and is one of a kind there. Maybe he would be happier on a big farm with lots of his kind. But what do I know...I don't have any goats!

Whatever YOU decide, your blog readers should be your last worry or concern!

Blessings to you,

September 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger menageriemom said...

This IS a difficult animal, and each time he escapes makes him that much more determined to get out again.(speaking from 20 years of experience) If you rehome him, please make sure the new owners know what they're in for - otherwise it'll turn into passing the buck - or in this case the wether. Be practical - he has already lived longer than most bucks. Goatkeeping books of years gone by even went so far as to advise drowning the buck kids as soon as they were born.(awful!)

September 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hardest, bravest decision that we, as animal lovers, sometimes need to make is that an animal might be better of with someone else. When done out of concern for the animals wellbeing rather than our own it is often the best and really only fair option.

As a small just-starting farm, having one animal that does not contribute, but causes more difficulties puts at risk the delicate financial balance of the farm and so puts at risk all of the other animals.

Given how fond of Finn you are I don't doubt that whatever you decide, even if that is the freezer, it will be the right choice.

Not everyone will understand that though. I just hope that anyone who cannot be constructive keeps their negativity to themselves.

September 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger E said...

I would consider my animal acquisitions very carefully.
Not get any more rabbits/sheep/goats/kittens/dogs/chickens etc before you have a safe barn and good fencing for them. No going to fair, feed store etc and coming home with a really cute _____.
And a plan for care all animals if you have to go away/are sick. This will happen.

Also a well thought out reason for getting each specific animal. Finn was going to be a pack goat - that would give him something to do.

In this situation, I agree with Kate. A quick death may be preferable to an unhappy life (Finn's & new owners). It may seem crass but he could become food for your dogs.

Rehoming might just be pushing the problem onto someone else.

Your honesty on the blog is very brave. I hope you are able to make your dream of sheep farm work. As a friend of mine says "Stick with your knitting, you won't do anything well if you keep changing tracks."

September 4, 2010 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Rene said...

Jenna, I think you're absolutely right that Finn is not a bad goat. Goats are a lot like working dogs in that they require a lot of interaction. Finn is no more a bad goat than a dog who chews furniture and pees on the floor out of boredom and frustration is truly a bad dog. If you're not committed to doing what he needs to be a happy goat you should rehome him as quickly as possible. The longer this goes on, the worse his habits will become and the more difficult it will be for the next owner to break him of it.

September 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I already commented but I needed to come back and explain this. I know your readers have good hearts but realistically no "good goat operation" will take Finn.

He's a wether. He serves NO purpose on a goat farm....except as meat and he's a little old for slaughter if they're selling goat meat.

But, if Jenna has the time and inclination he could be a good pack goat and find a home as a pet with someone.

If she can't do that he is not likely to be rehomed, certainly not by a farm that is into goats for profit, he's going to cost money and he has no purpose. That's just the reality of goatkeeping. A compassionate goatherder has his own retired animals s/he's keeping on in gratitude for all the work they did when they were younger. THey aren't in a position to take on other people's mistakes.

I don't mean that to sound harsh Jenna, just realistic. I really do think there may well be a companion home for Finn out there.

September 4, 2010 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger sash said...

Jenna, try posting somewhere on this site: - there's an area where you can put up ads.

September 4, 2010 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Words of wisdom from "E". I think I have that same friend. Stick to your knitting, indeed.

It does seem focus is needed. Maybe even a business plan. Some kind of mental road map so you can ask, "is this going to help me? or will it (in the immortal words of Sir Topham Hatt) "cause confusion and delay"?

September 4, 2010 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

There's a place here in Utah called Best Friends Animal Society

and they take ANY animal and care for them the rest of their life. I know it's far, far away from you, but maybe you could contact them and see if there are other facilities like that somewhere closer. You could visit him and volunteer there when you have time to help all the animals.

September 4, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Amigo van Helical said...

Perhaps you already know the answer, Jenna? Reading your post, I sense that you are pretty you should find another home for Finn, but are hesitant.
Remember: your audience wants you to succeed. Remember, also, that your focus is sheep and wool production. If Finn detracts from that and you want to keep your focus, then you know what you need to do.

September 4, 2010 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger sash said...

What Joleen said: Best Friends Society is a wonderful organization!

September 4, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sorry Jenna. You know what needs to be done. It's sad and it's gonna hurt but it has to be. I'm in the same boat myself. I have a rooster among my hens and being in the city I can't keep him. He'll be with me a while longer because his new home isn't ready yet but it kills me to have to give him up but I know he'll be happier in the long run. Sometimes we forget that our animals aren't meant to be pets. Good luck! I know you'll find him a good home where he'll be safe - and you could drop by for visits! :)

September 4, 2010 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Robbie Knight said...

Just lending extra've done the math. And you are good at hard decisions. You are also teaching us that a life of homesteading, farming, living closer to the land requires hard decisions. You do none of this flippantly. However you decide to resolve the situation, Finn is not worth it-for you, him or the community.

September 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger HotFlashHomestead said...

If you want to keep him, I would consider this: I read an article in Mother Earth News a few months back about cashmere goats, who are raised for their coats. If it were me, I might consider investing in a couple of these to keep Finn company. Your mission to make the farm profitable/create fiber can still be a reality then, and you can keep a happy, engaged Finn as a pet -- with company he'll enjoy. There are many times when we've had to buy a companion animal so one does not end up the only kind of his/her species on the property (dogs, cats, quail/doves) -- the trick is to make it work for you.

If you would rather not keep him, then just be responsible about it and re-home him to a petting zoo, or a home with someone around all day and lots of people and animals he can socialize with.

Either way, you will be fine. And so will Finn! Take the decision seriously, but don't for overnight trips away from the farm, the more livestock and crops you have the more difficult it becomes anyway. We don't take overnighters nearly as often as we once did. Just too many responsibilities here. You may be seeing the beginnings of that, too.

September 4, 2010 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Finn was purchased as a pet and companion.
In my mind that rules out euthanasia for mere convenience. He needs to be with other goats, so either get some more, or find him a new home. Just my opinion.

September 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I am in the processing of finding him a new home. I am making phone calls, emailing, craigslist, the works.

E: I click on your profile and get no information on you at all. I have no idea who I am getting comments from, which is discouraging. I don't know if you're a farmer, a college kid, a texan or a textile artist.

I never got any animal because it was "fun". The goat was supposed to be a hiking companion/pack goat and replace a hole in my trio of sheep when Marvin was taken back by his original owners. He is my first goat and this week was my first week ever trying to house an adult goat while maintaining a full time job/farm/writing life. It proved to be too much so I will find him a new place.

But all the animals here, save Jazz and Annie, have been bought to either be clothing or food or protect clothing or food. June Carter is a barn cat. Gibson is a sheep dog. The rabbits were for meat. The sheep this fall are to start my actual business. I do not bring home dairy calves, ponies, llamas, donkeys, pigs, or anything else for kicks or for fun.

All that said: you are damn right. Stick to the knitting. I am just trying to convey I am not an ass.

I think my harshest critics are the people who have been through all this before, or were raised on farms and get frustrated as what they see as taking on too much or careless mistakes. I didn't even have a chicken to my name five years ago, I haven't even started the actual business. This is a time of mistakes, learning, transition, more mistakes, some victories, and limitations learned.

I have been homesteading and farming three years. Part time.

Please be patient and try to understand how scary and nerve-inducing this would be if you were trying to become a small farmer, alone, without much cash and a day job.

In a few years I hope I find my stride with my sheep and dogs. You certainly don't see me posting about getting another goat or more meat rabbits. I am learning. You won't see a cow, or a horse, or a pig here. You won't see alpacas, or donkeys, or a llama either.

Right now everything feels raw, and feeling obligated to share it on here gets downright gut-wrenching. I think if everyone who started a farm made their adventures public they'd learn a lot and get lots of helpful advice.... but you'd also see how many of us make the same mistakes.

Anyway. I am just frustrated, now ranting, and stressed out about things happening off the farm.

I just want to not worry about Finn. I think that means he goes to another farm. I am not going to eat him or send him out to slaughter.

September 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Maybe he could be placed with an organization that uses goats for landscaping. The business in this news article rents their herd to clear kudzu & other brush. I know there's probably not much kudzu in your neck of the woods, but using goats in this manner is becoming a very "green" thing to do. State & local governments are beginning to rent goat herds to keep roadside brush cleared. I bet there has to be an organization that's doing this somewhere in your area.

September 4, 2010 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Hunington said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 4, 2010 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I am working on a business plan. But right now the farm is a long ways from being a business. My paychecks come from Orvis. That is my dedication as a job. My plan for making a profit on the farm is already in the works.

I will not be posting a business plan on the blog though.

September 4, 2010 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Don’t be so hard on yourself! The bottom line is you are now a home/land owner and you have an animal that is now a liability. Despite your best efforts in fencing, three different attempts at my count, one for the sheep and two tries’ at electric. He still gets out and wreaks havoc you don’t want him out in the middle of the road and you don’t want to put Maude and Sal at risk as well. Any animal that cannot or will not stay in their enclosure puts you at risk for lawsuits in an area that is a mix of rural and residential and on a main road. I grew up on a farm and now live in a rural/residential area in New Mexico with a 4 month old Border/Aussie mix and 7 chickens. My only experience with goats was with Nubians and they were all climbers and escape artists ~ Yes even the ladies! It will get sorted out just take one thing at a time. And breathe don’t forget to breathe :)

September 4, 2010 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Desert WIllow. I needed to read that.

I am having a rough week, to put it mildly.

September 4, 2010 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Hi Jenna, I just left a note on facebook with my sister-in-law - she has a goat farm - I asked her to read your story and gave her your e-mail address and she lives in NY State. She might be able to give you some advice. So sorry this is not working out for you. If you would like to talk with her I'll give you her e-mail address.

September 4, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Oh Jenna. So many people seem to love to criticize you and the things you do, eh? At times I'm glad that my little farm blog doesn't have nearly the following as yours does. As always, my best advice here is "haters gonna hate" no matter what you do. We all fail at times, we all make mistakes. Owning up to them as you do so publicly puts you many marks above others in my book.

September 4, 2010 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

Your most realistic posters are farmers. Your harshest critics IMO are those that see farm animals as pets, and they aren't.

Farming is hard. Farming is not forgiving. Farming is about making choices to make a profit. Farming is a business.

For a city girl... and I too was one once 15yrs ago... I'm truly surprised you are doing as well as you are... I live on a farm that's been in this family nearly 200yrs.. You've been at it 3 and are doing well. If you didn't make mistakes how would you ever know any different?? If it was easy, everyone would do it. It looks easy... from the city limits.

Truth is, at this time, he's more than you can deal with. Is it cruel to send him to the packers?? No... one day you'll have a lame ewe or one that one look after her lambs or or or... and still be making that decision.

Farm animals... are not pets.

September 4, 2010 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Good luck! You will make the best decision for both of you.

I understand the harsh judgement and the gut-wrenching feeling to put these things out there. I've lost RL friends because of decisions we've made about our animals. I hesitate to share anything online based on that single event. You are very brave.

Keep trucking, babe. You can do it.

September 4, 2010 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

If you really really want to keep him the only thing that will work for sure is the 16' stock pannels. and a shelter. The question is how does he fit in. When I first started my farm I bought two pygmy wethers. They were soooo cute. It took me about 8 months to figure out to have a real working farm cute also had to fill a purpose or have a job, thats what keep the peace. Everyone on my farm works (people and animals). I was able to sell them to a family that had a young boy who just took to them right off. Thank goodness. Unless finn can have a job somewhere in your world, its the road. Someone will be perfect for him and its no reflection on you or your abilities you are just making smart choices to keep the harmony and the farm going in the direction you see fit. The long term viability (and sanity). I dont know if that made a bit of sense. hang in there.

September 4, 2010 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

I'm sorry about Finn.

I could sense how happy you were that he was coming home. It must be so disappointing that it isn't working out.

I'd give you a real hug if I could, I guess a virtual one will have to do. {{hug}}

September 4, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger T.C. said...

Good for you, Jenna, for getting on the phone, internet, etc and not wasting any time. I skimmed through the comments and think sheila said it best "farming is not for the faint of heart." I used to breed horses and someone told me "there are too many good horses out there to waste your time and money on one that doesn't suit your needs. Much as you love Finn, at this point he's taking money and focus away from your goals for your farm. You are doing the right thing and both of you will be happier.

September 4, 2010 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...


I have come to a point in making decisions (especially about animals and work choices) where I ask myself a question - "Is this how I want to spend my life?". If the answer is no, then whatever it is has to go. I believe I only get one life and want to spend it the best way I can. If I am shackled by an animal that doesn't fit in, then my quality of life is diminished. Sometimes making these choices is hard and it hurts, other times it is easy and a relief. But only you can know what is best for you.

One more thing. The longer I "farm", the fewer animals I am tempted to buy. I am better able to look down the road and guess what will or will not be a fit. Perhaps you will also find that to be true as you go down your own path.

All the best to you.

September 4, 2010 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

farmwifetwo: you are right. farm animals are not pets. i need to understand this better, and will come to it. I think when you photograph and write and coo over animals online it's harder to be realistic.

I am working on findng a place for finn. I have one lead but it's four hours away and neither of us can get to the other....

September 4, 2010 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger HotFlashHomestead said...

I would disagree with those who say that farm animals cannot be pets. It all depends on the farm and the set-up. I have friends who have alpacas, goats, horses rabbits and chickens as pets. I have other friends who keep the identical species of animals for business/profit.

Since Finn has always been a pet, you are on the right track in thinking about whether potentially eating rhubarb leaves or ending up in the road is best for him and for you. I would not hesitate to re-home him, and don't feel bad about it. You are making HIS life better, because he'll be safer and more well-supervised. And you will have peace of mind.

I once gave a troublesome rooster away who we could not keep. I was sad to see him go, but his new owners were thrilled with him as a guard and sentry over a backyard flock. His personality fit in much better there than here. Who knew?

There's a "pet" out there for everyone. And I know you'll find Finn a great place.

September 4, 2010 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Sylvan said...

I'm sorry Jenna that Finn has turned into a wild child sowing his oats 24/7.

Most of us really do learn experientially. Just consider what you've been going through this week with him as a week of quantum learning.

What a rascal he is!

September 4, 2010 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger melldot said...

just a small suggestion, I do not have goats, but a friend of mine has a female boer goat that she keeps in with electric netting from Premier. before she had the netting, she had a goat house and an overhead runner cable, (kind of like a zip line, so she wouldn't get her legs caught) for the goat and when she left for work she tied the goat, and as long as someone was home the goat was out with the sheep and horses. In fact Reba is more like a dog than anything. I purchased the fencing for my sheep. It keeps in my LGD, geese, ducks, chickens and babydoll sheep. the only other thought is maybe check with someone who might be looking for a companion for their horse. I know some stables have a token goat that acts as a buddy for horses that need it. I hope everything works out for you and Finn, good luck.

September 4, 2010 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger jpark22 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Always, always, always, follow your gut. Only you know what's best. God bless. daisy

September 4, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

i agree with kate 100%. better you be in control of his destiny than possibly bounced frome home to hone with unknown treatment and conditions.

September 4, 2010 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

also very wise words from E. jenna, you sound very overwhelmed with balancing your job, personal life and farm life...and dont you have a deposit on even more sheep but have no fencing or structure for them yet? whats the hurry? why the rush? scale back and build the farm as time and money allow...enjoy the ride. you are in control, you make the decisions, you call the shots. the cart doesnt need to be before the horse.

as far as rehoming finn goes i wish you the best of luck and hope its easier to find a problem goat a home than it is problem dogs. i found homes for 2 basically feral mules when their owners also decided they werent worth the time energy money or field space on their farm. it takes time but im confident you will be able to find a home for him. contact local rescues for additional contacts or suggestions...and if you use craigslist screen very carefully and make sure you have someone on the farm with you if they come to check him out. your safety is most important.

remember...sometimes less is more. you can only chew so much.

step outside and breath in tonights crisp cool almost fall will all work out :)

September 4, 2010 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

I would so take him in if:

A) We didn't live halfway across the state from eachother
B) I hadn't JUST bought a third goat on the 1st
C) My previous goat hadn't decided to be the dominant female over the new doe and not allow her into the barn
D) My dad wouldn't kill me for getting another goat
and E) I had a little more fence to finish the back pasture

Other than that... FINN WOULD BE MINE! If you allowed it that is. :)
He rocks, and would always be a pet providing he didn't perpetually bust out.

I wish there was a way to make this work. :(

September 4, 2010 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

By "providing he didn't perpetually bust out," I don't mean that if it didn't work out (not that it could anyway... sigh) I'd eat him. Not Finn! I'll admit goat tastes awesome, but that's one guy I would definitely be ashamed of eating if by some miracle I had the honor of taking him in.

September 4, 2010 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Jenna, re-homing Finn does not make you a "bad" farmer. you moved to a new property with a different set-up and it's inappropriate for Finn and to make it more accommodating is cost prohibitive. There is absolutely NO shame in that. Please don't be so hard on yourself, even if other people are.

folks who start new ventures often take too much on, lose focus in their excitement for all things even remotely related to their business, and spread themselves too thin. I know because I've done it myself (maybe one day I'll get to tell you about how I really messed up putting an animal down. it was awful and i still feel like an ass.).

If I were to give you advice (worth nothing more than a grain of salt), I would say stick to your wool project. It is your dream. All the rest is probably too much for a full-time off-farm employed person. especially one who also has a lot of writing gigs. Keep it simple (or as simple as possible) and you will find success. You are on your way, making the mistakes that WE ALL make from time to time. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for being human.

September 4, 2010 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

Now I understand why it's called "passing the buck".
On our farm the goats were tethered lawn mowers. The ones that mis-behaved were quickly traded to the hillbillies for cords of wood. The hillbillies loved to roast goat and we thought it fine animal husbandry to breed the traits we wanted in our stock.

September 5, 2010 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

One cannot do everything. That is why we make choices. Goats are extremely herd orientated animals and need the company of other goats. Just one addition may be enough to keep Finn happy, then again not.

Goats, and I am prepared to get tomatoes at me for this, independent thinkers compared to sheep. And since I have had both in 25 years i feel I am qualified to make that statement. And yes there are always exceptions to the rules, on both sides.

Have you spent a day watching Finn and finding out how he gets out? Is he a jumper, some goats are gazelles. Your fence appears from the angle photo was taken to be 48 to 60 inches in height. But it also appears to be "field fencing" which bends easily under weight and can be conquered by a single minded caprine in short order.

Goats require secure fencing. The definition of that is fencing that will keep them in and predators out.

The fencing you choose would not have been what I would have. But that is of no matter at this point.

This is what you have and if it isn't working then you are correct Finn needs a home that can offer him more safety and you less worry.

Best of luck to you and Finn.

September 5, 2010 at 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are looking to get goats and were at the country fair today chatting with the goat people. We learned two things relevant to your situation. First, don't keep a single goat. They need companions (even just 1 other). Second, a bored goat is a destructive goat. Think puppy stuck at home for a few hours.

You've got two real choices. Keep him and you'll need to find him a companion and things to occupy his mind and body so escape is not so entertaining. Give him away and you'll need a good home or a slaughterhouse.

You'll make the right choice, and only you can do it. Hugs!

September 5, 2010 at 12:35 AM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

Oh, Jenna! What a rough week! I know how it feels to be greeted by a goat on the front porch (or the garden, or the chicken coop, or the strawberry patch) when you arrive home.
DON'T get Finn a companion. You'll have two escape goats. (at least that's what WE had, only three of them.)

Hope you find a home for Finn soon. I've been down that road too. The goats are why hubby won't let me even think about adding any more livestock to out farm for some time, and why he has taken up hunting instead of raising our food.

As much as I adored the goats, I was ecstatic when their new owners picked them up. I wished them luck, tried not to laugh in front of them, and nearly skipped back to the cabin when I discovered I had time to knit that evening instead of wrestle goats back to their pen.

Goats need so much more than fences.
After 10 days of goat ownership, I understand why the devil is often depicted as a goat.

Chin up, girl. This too shall pass. Somehow.

September 5, 2010 at 12:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna - part of what I love about your blog and your book is that you are honest. Some things work well; others, not so much.

There was no way to know until you tried that keeping a goat would not work for you, at least not at this time in your life.

I think that dealing with your current situation is helping you to better define your goals and priorities. That's not bad. And there is no way to do that without having the experience to make decisions.

You're doing fine. I'm sorry about the naysayers who are critical of you. I find the ones who are the most critical (and who make no mistakes either) are the ones who talk and don't actually do. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback.

September 5, 2010 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger Sylvia@Treadlestitches said...

Good luck to you, Jenna, and don't worry about what people say. Your true fans admire your courage in dealing with the daily struggles of real farming. I especially like your enthusiasm and excitement, and that's what will take you through the challenges. You're in the right line of work.
I lived on a hog farm when I was a kid, and the darn hogs got out of their pen a lot. Chasing them back in was almost a daily job until my dad got the pen pig-proofed. (Hogs are escape artists, too, and pretty smart.) My Mom and I were remembering this on the phone the other day. Once we finally got them back in, we all collapsed on the grass in the front yard and laughed until we could hardly breathe. Good times.

September 5, 2010 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Manzanita Farms said...

Dearest Jenna,

It sounds like you have made your decision about Finn and, hard as it may be, you are doing the right thing for him and for you. He needs to be with goat people in a goat environment and he will thrive. You're probably finding that it was easier to write a book than to have a blog because now you get live feedback every day on all your decisions. Fortunately, most of us who read your blog and respond are supportive. We send our love, support, good advise and prayers. You are a courageous woman. You are forging your dream for yourself, by yourself. This is a big deal. As you said yourself, farming is not in your DNA. You are learning things that used to be passed from generation to generation. They no longer are. You are learning many things on behalf of us who are just starting out or only dreaming of such a lifestyle. We learn as you learn, we cry when you cry and we sing in joy when you sing. Some of these people who want to sit back in their armchairs and throw out criticisms really annoy me. There are many of us who want to get back to the roots of what this country was founded on. We care about where our meat comes from. We want to bite into home-grown corn. We want to pull on a sweater of home-grown wool. Instead of negative comments, be glad that there is a generation that wants to keep these things alive. Let's offer advice and support and be proud of those who are taking the road less traveled. It's not a novelty, it's a life.

September 5, 2010 at 3:14 AM  
Blogger kathie said...


My heart (my barnheart) goes out to you. I'm so sorry your week was awful. You are doing the best you can and quite simply, that is all anyone can expect, even those whom may disagree with your decisions.

Everything you are learning in your farming venture goes to the making decisions when the next lesson/situation comes along, so none of this heartache, pain, or disappointment will be wasted.

Thank you for being brave enough to risk creating an amazing life and farm, and being generous enough to share it with us all.

Everything always works out in the end--maybe not the way we wished--but it does work out, and prepares us for the next adventure.

Trust yourself to make the best decision for you and your farm. I do!

September 5, 2010 at 4:16 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 5, 2010 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

Stop feeling guilty and find a good home for Finn. Sometimes things do not work out as planned just because. It is not your fault or Finn's, the situation just is what it is. Quality of life is important for both of you. Focus on what is best for each and remember you are responsible for many animals welfare and cannot fall back in their care because of one high maintenance animal. This is not a failure on your part and I know you are sad that this is happening after waiting so long for him to come home. Follow your instincts and you will do what is best. Have faith that you will make the right decision for both of you.

September 5, 2010 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Jenna - I read your comment that you feel your harshest critics are your more experienced readers, who have already made the mistakes themselves. I honestly don't believe they are being critical or judgemental. If anything their advice comes from a perspective of empathy and understanding for your situation. And admiration. After all if they're making time in their busy farming day to read the blog it's bound to be out of interest not schadenfreude.

More importantly, if they're taking the time to give you the benefit of their experience, it's because they want to see you succeed. You have a large reservoir of willing and knowledgeable people who appear to put themselves at your disposal. For free. (When I need help with my horses, I pay someone £100 a day for his expertise.)

In my experience, most farmers are not diplomats. They say what they mean, straight up. Help may come in a rough state, but I bet their intentions are good. And if it's good advice, or even a helping hand like Annie, it's invaluable. I'm sure you know that already.

I can't give you advice on Finn, I let your more experienced readers help with the pros and cons of keeping a caprine houdini. But I was compelled to comment with a "glass is half full" perspective. I can see you've been struggling with making your life and your mistakes public.

September 5, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Yeah i'm not going to slaughter Finn. He's not a bad goat, I just have bad goat-fences. A proper goat set up would adore him.

I will find him a good home.

Duck, I wish you could take him too.

September 5, 2010 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'm late here as usual, and this has probably been covered already in other comments, which I was not able to read all of.

If you don't plan to be a goat farm, there's no reason for you to keep goats AND no reason to beat yourself up over it. Sometimes animals don't work out. Sometimes it will be your fault, other times not. It's totally okay to get rid of an animal that isn't fitting in on your farm, for whatever reason. This kind of thing will happen again, so try not to sweat it!

As for what to do, whoever said that a horned wether will be hard to place was correct, I'm afraid. Your best bet will be someone with a horned herd that needs a companion for a buck or something. Still, he may end up in a freezer when all is said and done. And from what you've said, I'm not sure he's quite a "normal" goat. I think he's leaning slightly to the "difficult" side of normal. For what it's worth, I have an excellent dairy doe with great genetics who has horns, thanks to improper disbudding. She and I don't get along, and she tries to stick me EVERY SINGLE DAY, and that simply will not stand around here. She has about worn out her welcome, even though she's otherwise a great animal. It's hard, but sometimes this is what we face.

September 5, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

I haven't read through all the posts,so this may have been said before. I don't know much about goats, but I know of dog breeders who will take back their animals. People seem concerned that Finn isn't placeable because he's become so adept at escaping, and it will start a chain reaction of people trying to get rid of him. What if you place him with the provision that if he can't be contained, you'll take him back. That way you won't have to worry about how he's being treated by someone else. Although that would probably leave the freezer as your final option, but at least you'd know he lived and died humanely.

Sending positive thoughts for Finn's safe and speedy placement.


September 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger E said...

Please don't think I said your were an "ass".

Your honesty, hard work, dedication, mistakes and hard work are all part of what makes you shine.

And the way you love your animals (almost to a fault)!

September 5, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Dear Jenna,
When you ask for advice, it often will include a critique of what you have done (in our not-always-so-humble opinions) wrong. This is not really the same as criticizing you as a person, just trying to help you see where you may have gone wrong, or what you might have done different, or what we ourselves (some of us having been down this road before) might have done.

Don't beat yourself up about it. Finn will soon be gone and you will breathe a huge sigh of relief. I unloaded a couple of horned bucklings a few weeks ago and I know they went for meat. But I had tried for week after week to find a buyer for them - they were purebred registerable dairy bucks. Excellent stock but no one wanted them at any price. When I sold them, I was just thrilled that they were gone. Next year I will disbud and wether any males right after birth. And I also have way too many animals, of too many species. I believe it's a disease brought on by having available space. It's a lot easier to acquire them than to get rid of them.

See, we all make mistakes or errors in judgment. We just don't all ask for advice and get it in spades, in public.

September 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger brokenteepee said...

Goats need other goats. They can rarely live alone or with other animals not of their species.
He is young and energetic.

They do need that jungle gym to keep them occupied. If you are going to keep him you need to consider another wether and a spool or two.

You can't make decisions for YOUR farm based on internet opinion. It's not fair to you or your goat.

Goats for the most part know what to eat. Unless they are starving they won't eat what is poisonous to them.

September 5, 2010 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger The Bunny Girl said...


This must have been an amazongly difficult decision. While I may not have livestock I have spent many years rescuing and placing animals into new homes. Often they are sweet and lovable and my first desire is to keep them here where I know I can offer them all my love and good care. Asking, am I the right home is a hard and very difficult question, but it must be asked and answered honestly. You are not a bad person for being honest. I do not know many people who can be that honest with themselves or with other people. I wish you luck on finding a home for Finn. All we can ever do in life is our best. If you're doing your best, no one can ask any more from you.

September 5, 2010 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger mallowlark said...

Oh dear, that's difficult. I second the idea that you might try horse farms/owners. Goats are a pretty common companion animal for horses (and rather cheaper than a companion horse), and fencing for horses is often substantial. And horses are rather more common than goats...might widen your options a bit. The idea that you'd take him back if he didn't work out might be a good one if you don't want to him to end up being dinner.

September 5, 2010 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Toby said...

Before getting rid of Finn try getting him some friends. You're going to need "wet" goats to nurse your lambs that get rejected by their mothers. They could serve double duty as friends for Finn. That way eneryone has a purpose; Finn is the pack goat, the other goats are your nurse maids. Just a thought to try before saying goodbye.

September 5, 2010 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I understand that Finn would be happier with more goats here, but this is not a goat operation. I would be adding livestock and animals for no reason but to entertain themselves. I plan on raising sheep for meat and wool, and Finn was supposed to be a healthy sidekick to that: a herd member and pack animal. Now I am realizing he is the only goat in a flock of sheep with little to do and getting into trouble.

I can not afford the space or effort of more animals, specially with ewes on the way late fall...

Finn has to go. This place just isn't proper for a goat. It sucks.

September 5, 2010 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Mayleen said...

Just popped on and thought I'd add my idea: as a child, we had a Nubian doe for a number of years. She was tied out like a dog, with a dog(goat)house full of straw. We took her for walks when we could and gave her plenty of love. Often, at night, we would drive in and see the reflection of 3 sets eyes from the goathouse: Daisy goat on top, Muffin border collie in the middle, and Spooky the cat on bottom! She could see people coming and going and never seemed lonely. A good dog collar will stay on (especially with horns!) and a dog cable run might be the best bet: more room to roam.
My $0.02 and good luck - you're doing a fantastic job!

September 5, 2010 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

Oh believe me Jenna, if I lived on my own I would have already been down to pick him up. Ever since I began reading your blog I was attached to Finn. Before I had goats I would stare at any picture you posted of him and wish for him to be mine (which is sort of freaky now that I think about it).

I just wish there was some way I myself wouldn't be burger for getting another goat with no way to transport him here.

Hey, want to come to a poultry show on the 19th? Hehe!
I wouldn't count on it anyway...

September 5, 2010 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger WeekendFarmer said...

I feel the pain you are feeling. My sheep keep going over to the neighbor and eaiting their clover. Its a pain!

Goats are more naughty than sheep. I think you know what is right. He needs to be rehomed.

I saw a reader mentioned the beekmanboys. Their website is and also there is Chef Suvir in upstate. His website is

I think they are in Salem.

Both of these farms have goats.

I will drop them a note as well.

All the best!

Weekend Farmer.

September 6, 2010 at 4:46 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I emailed the beekman boys, they got back to me and are considering it. Who knows?!

September 6, 2010 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger RabbleRoost said...

Wouldn't that be cool if Finn was a movie (well, tv) star after all you had gone through with him? :)

September 6, 2010 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

very cool. i never saw the show, but will get it on itunes or hulu or something. they're just an hour south of CAF

September 6, 2010 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Andria Crowjoy said...

Jenna I am sure you will come up with the just right answer for you. Didn't offer advice last time because it seemed you'd gotten enough, but here's what I would do, I guess.

Our goats are behind electric netting and there are cattle panels on t posts either in front or behind the electric - the electric fence is portable and we switch it up depending on where the good forage is. On the 30 mile charger that keeps them in. So I would invest just one more time in some netting.

Now, I'm sure you're aware, there are cashmere and angora goats. Another goat wouldn't have to be a useless pet, you could add another fiber to your collection and another potential income stream to the farm. I'd probably be looking for a nice, maybe slightly older doe or another wether.

So far our little wether (which we're training to drive, inspired by your goals for Finn) has paid good attention to his mum's and auntie's respect for the fence. Your experience with Finn makes me wonder if we have trying times ahead of us. If so, I'll surely find some ideas to out fox him here.

September 6, 2010 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Not to burst your bubble, but raising sheep for meat/wool, will not be a money maker on a small scale. You may just cover your expenses, but making money over what you have put in, in farming is just *really* hard. Enjoy what you have for what it is, and if you make money over and above what it costs to raise them, that's GREAT, but don't expect it.... Just being practical. I am going through the same things with you, in terms of start up costs. I just hope that my animals are healthy and happy, and if they can cover their upkeep, that's GREAT!

September 6, 2010 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I am well aware sheep on a small scale isn't going to pay the bills. But if they cover their own feed and fencing, and supply the fodder for books, magazine articles, and other writing that could help pay the mortgage: now that's something.

My goal is for the money from lamb and wool to eventually cover the costs of raising sheep. And for my writing to help cover the farm itself.

September 6, 2010 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think your self-perpetuating plan for the farm is a good one. I noticed though that you're thinking that now is not the time for a business plan, as there's no actual business yet.

I have to chime in that now is the RIGHT time for a business plan, boring and distressing as it can be. I loathe business plans. K & I wrote one, got a business loan, the loan fell through and we had to completely start from scratch and write an entirely new business plan that conforms with the format another lender wanted. Business plans are the worst part of setting up a business.

But having done it I believe it's the most crucial, most important part of setting up a business that will hold water. Through the process of writing and re-writing the business plan we unearthed all kinds of logistical problems and solutions that we hadn't thought of, that would've cost us thousands of dollars if we hadn't been proactive about it. Even with all the best planning, there's always going to be things you hadn't thought of, which is why it's so important to know your numbers. You can make better decisions that way.

You've been going to all the farmer's markets and workshops, I really believe you'd gain a lot from going to a few entrepreneurial workshops. It's a great way to make contacts too, you meet people you can barter and trade with.

I found the workshops geared towards women were more helpful, less about "give your pitch in 30 seconds" and more about your whole vision.

By the way, the lighter paint looks fantastic on the walls. The optimistic colour scheme is taking over our home. :)

September 6, 2010 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

My only comment is to say that if you WANTED to try to see about keeping him all you have to do is find an old spool or a table that no one wants and I think he'd be content to jump on and off of that all day. You don't have to spend a penny or time building anything.
But, as a goat owner, I know they can be frustrating. And if this isn't what you're interested in then it probably isn't fair to Finn to be put on the backburner. Good luck!

September 7, 2010 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Just a quick question Jenna....what exactly do you have for fencing? T-posts with wire mesh? Or wood posts? Where are your electric lines running? On top of the fence? In front of the fence?

I ask because it might help to get a hot wire on the inside of the fence, so he can't even get to the mesh fence. I have wire mesh, and I have those extended (6" long) insulators that keep a hot wire on the inside of the mesh, so the animals can't/don't even touch the actual wire mesh.

Just thinking of a simple solution that may help. Also, did you read my post before about haltering him and pulling his nose into the wire to shock him a few times? Sounds harsh, but it works and he'll learn that wire is hot!

September 7, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Susanna said...

Jenna, aren't you going to need to improve your fence anyhow for the sheep operation?

Won't you need substantial livestock gating or high-tensile electric fencing anyhow?

You're looking to get rid of the goat because he deems your fence a non-fence. So you could deal with getting rid of the goat ---- but you still have a fence that is in jeapardy. Your docile ovines now are probably too content and too few to go about probing the extents of the pastures...but you get a few more and you'll be back in the same boat, finding ewes at the mailbox when you get home. I suggest focusing on the fence; the root cause. Also, fall back on that business plan (in progress) and that should also be pointing to the need for adequate fencing and stalls.
Good luck, you'll figure it out :)!

September 8, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . . everyone has an opinion, and i admire your bravery for reaching out. the internet horde can so harsh one's mellow :) wishing you the best. knowing you'll make the right choice for yourself, even if it feels like it turns out to be one of those dastardly "learning experiences".

September 9, 2010 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger sash said...

What is the latest on Finn and fences?

September 13, 2010 at 2:14 PM  

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