Inside the barnyard is a delicate balance. Routine is not only expected, but required to maintain happiness and health of the inhabitants. A zone of comfort and a pecking order exists among species and within individual groups in which they learn to co-exist. When a new member is introduced, or an old one leaves, or when a change occurs in the environment, even with the best intentions, the equilibrium is broken and chaos ensues until a new normal is established. We try to maintain balance among the herd as much as possible, but sometimes change comes out of necessity.
,The time had come to move the buck herd from the small and over-used paddock they inhabited on the hill into the large pasture, and to separate Carl, the young buckling, from the does before we had accidental breedings. Carl is one of Sasha's twins who was retained to bring her excellent milk genetics to some of the lower generation minis. His brother was wethered and kept as a companion.
The new pasture has plenty of browse for the goats, and room to roam. In the old area they were housed, the rickety OSB shed had outlived its usefulness. It was the same building that had been built as a temporary shelter five years ago, taken apart and moved, put back together and added on for a wintering and lambing area for sheep. It had seen better days.
In preparation for the move, two large stock tanks were installed to serve the horses and the goats. Since goats are notorious for getting out of fences, additional wires were added, taking it from six to eight tight and closely placed strands. Still having no barn on the hill, a temporary shelter, although not ideal, a shelter-logic tent and an A frame dog house were built in the new paddock. Sturdy feeders were installed along the fence line. In the end, one piece was missing, although had been discussed and we know now was vital, a holding pen inside the paddock to introduce new animals.
The first move was to herd Daryl, Primrose, the guardian dogs and friends from their old home across a few feet of grass to the gate of the new pasture. At first, they enjoyed the shady hillside overlooking the old shed, pondering this new place wondering and why they could see their old home but not reach it. Eventually, they learned their way around up and down the hill, and found their new comfort zone.
Soon after the move, on August 5, Buttercup, the large wether from the doe pen, took a walk up the hill to join the boys. Daryl greeted him, and once they figured out between them where he stood in the pecking order, all was well. Next, to join was Carl, the young black buckling who also needed away from the girls. This is where things went wrong. Once inside the pasture, Carl looked around at this strange new environment and bolted. He took off running as fast as he could go, down the fence line until we could see him no more. Thinking we might get him to come back if he had a familiar herd mate, his wethered brother, we quickly went to fetch Eugene. Another bad decision. Eugene followed suite, but popped through the fence to the edge of the woods. Luckily we could still see him, but he wouldn’t come to us.
Coming to the rescue, John brought their dam, Sasha, on a lead to hopefully draw them to her. Eugene came happily and stuck by her side. We led them all around the pasture up and down the trails calling for Carl, but there was no sign of him anywhere. For several days, we looked for Carl, hoping he would find his way home. Posts went out to the neighbors who were kind enough to look and watch for this lost little buckling.
To add to the confusion, the next morning Bailey, the masked Great Pyrenees, appeared out of the fence at the bottom on the hill with the chickens and does. A secured area was built using 4X4 goat panels to hold her temporarily until we could get this problem figured out. Next, Daryl and friends, all but Tator and Primrose, were on the wrong side of the fence. Luckily they were close by and easy to catch. This new fence was not doing its job.
Loose areas in the fence were found and tightened, and the wires were electrified with a solar charger. Problem solved. Eugene was back with the does and other kids, and there were no more escapees.
Time went on, and the hope of finding Carl was all but lost. The old shed was torn down and the fencing that had previously held them in the old paddock was removed. This would be the future site of a farm pond and recreation area for the farmers.
August 31, 26 days after the disappearance of Carl, he appeared back in the fence with the rest of the herd. We will never know how far he traveled, or how he found his way back, but there he was, a little thinner but on his feet and with good energy and appetite.
Welcome back Carl!
My name is Christy Franklin.