Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goat Rescue

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary getting my new volunteer orientation. I've wanted to get involved over there for quite a while, but with working full-time and having my own animals to take care of in the evenings, I just couldn't fit it in. So, now that my schedule is a bit more flexible, I thought it was the perfect time get involved.

The farm is located on 6 acres, conveniently located not too far from our home. One side of the property is broken into nice big pens for the adoptable animals, and the other is a large pasture where the resident animals live.

New Moon Farm is home to goats of all shapes and sizes, some sheep, a few horses, a little donkey, two barn cats and a couple of the owner's dogs. (Her home is on site, as well.) It was much larger than I expected!

We started out the orientation with a quick walk-through to give me the lay of the land, and then we got right down to business: manure management. (Holy moley, goats poop a lot!) Fortunately, it was relatively easy to clean, the way the pens are set up- there are stall mats down in the shelters where the animals congregate to eat and get out of the weather (and by default, where the manure piles up.)  I think that wintertime clean up is going to be much more involved, when they're not out in the grassy areas as much. It's a good thing I'm starting this in the summer!

I haven't had the opportunity to spend much time around goats previously, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are incredibly curious and friendly creatures. Each time I walked into a pen, there was a welcoming committee that came over to see what I was up to.

The sheep were a bit more skittish; not many of them were terribly interested in what I was doing there. The gal who was training me said that sheep tend to be like that, if they're not handled a lot when they're young. That makes sense to me, and besides, the goats definitely made up for that sheepy indifference with their smiles. From toothy grins to simple smirks, goats have some very expressive faces.

Sadly, there are a number of animals there at the farm who were badly mistreated by their previous owners. If there's one thing that I really don't understand, it's people who intentionally harm an animal that is dependent upon them. Neglect is bad enough- awful, really- but outright cruelty and abuse is something altogether different. That being said, however, I can't think of a better place for those animals to come to rehab, than New Moon Farm. Even the ones who had clearly been mistreated were friendly and wanted to interact with us.

I'm really excited to have this opportunity to work with the goats, and to get to know more about them. I've been interested in adding some goats and sheep to our little farm for a long time, but I didn't want to take on something like this without already having some hands-on experience, first. They're intelligent animals, and as a result, they're definitely more work than the rabbits and chickens. I need to know that they'd be a good fit here, before we make that kind of a commitment.

Do you raise goats or sheep? What's the one piece of advice that you think someone new should know?

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