Friday, September 12, 2008

Lost kid

I've been hesitant to make this post. I suppose I've been in denial, thinking that it couldn't possibly be true. A couple days ago, I counted the goats across the creek, and I came up one short. I ran through the list of the goats that should have been there, and there was no little white buckling. We had several white bucklings this year, so I asked Margaret if Annie's little kid was still supposed to be there. Yeah, he was supposed to be there. But we couldn't find him.

Katherine went out there yesterday and started looking through the woods. She found a large intestine that was the right size to be from a goat kid, although she couldn't find anything else. No bones. No skin.

We've never lost a goat before, and Margaret suggested that the little guy had gone through the electric fence. I stayed with the goats longer than normal yesterday, and once they became accustomed to my presence, they walked off and started grazing. Lil, the little doeling that had a sucking disorder at birth, walked right through the electric fence as if it didn't bother her at all. I wanted to explain to her that it was a dangerous world out there, but she wouldn't understand. Today, Katherine told me she saw another kid go through the fence.

Last night, when I was driving home, a coyote ran across the road and into the cornfield a couple miles from my farm. I wonder what's caused their population to skyrocket to such a ridiculous level. When I ran into the sheep shearer a few days ago, he was telling me that a farm four miles northwest of us had almost no lambs this year, because the coyotes got most of them.

We have moved the goats from across the creek to the barn pasture where they should be safe. But we can't leave them there forever, or we'll wind up with parasite problems again. It is amazing how the coyotes' presence is like a pebble thrown into a pond. It affects where the goats can graze, which results in altered nutrition and heavier parasite loads. The weather this fall isn't nearly as nice as last year, so it's less comfortable for us to spend the night in the pasture, but if we don't come up with another alternative, we'll have to start taking the goats out to graze during the day ... or we may need to cut the herd in half. As much as I don't want to sell any, I'd rather see them go to another home than be eaten by coyotes or compromised by parasites.


Gizmo said...

Oh no! Watch your lambs. The smell of the afterbirth might also be enticing them closer.
Did you catch your llamas?? What about a (or another) LGD??
I'm so sorry for your loss.

Terri & Randy Carlson said...

That's so scarry. I hope you can find a solution. We have been lucky so far, at least with the sheep. We always lose poultry.

Kara said...

Oh Deb! I am sooo very sorry. This is too much. It seems like their population is out of control or their natural prey is scarce. Has the DEC given you any answers?

Deborah said...

Kara, I hadn't thought about contacting anyone from the government. I'll see if I can find any info on the web about what they can do.

Terri, don't get too comfortable with the fact that you haven't lost any. We didn't loose any sheep for five years, but once the coyotes figured out where the lamb buffet was located, they seem determined to continue dining here.

Gizmo, no, we haven't caught the llamas yet. And now I'm nervous about putting them in there with the sheep and the babies. We had a donkey once, and he killed a yearling ewe. I'm not sure what to do, but we're thinking of running electric wire across the top of the woven wire, so that if a coyote tries to crawl over, he'll get shocked.


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