Boarding goats, disagreements with barn owner - am I overreacting?
My property is not zoned for livestock so in order to have goats I had to figure out a boarding situation. Well, I ended up with two bucks with horns, so you can imagine how long it took to find a place that would take them! They ended up staying with me for the whole first year, and I just took them to the new barn three days ago.
I live with my parents, who were the ones to find and check out the barn while I was in class at college. The first time I got to see the place was when we were bringing the goats there, and it's a really nice farm with a lot of great people. But.... there are a few things that make me very nervous. I was led to believe (by my parents) that the goats would have their own inside pen or stall and then share a paddock with two mini horses. When I got there, it turns out they are sharing both the pen and paddock with no less than 5 minis. They are terrified of the minis, and I know they'll get used to them eventually but it's extra stress for them that I was not prepared for. When I went there they were huddled in the corner and would run every time a horse came by, even if it meant going outside in the sun or not staying long enough to eat their fill of hay.
Outside is chain link fence, but the bottom is not secured to the ground - there a few inches of space and it gives very easily, so I have no doubt the goats could slip out if they wanted to. We bought a cable to try and fix it, so that might help, but I can't know for certain just yet. Inside the paddock were lots of torn bits of plastic and mesh; I picked it all up without saying anything and came back with two handfuls worth of garbage. Then, I go to the inside part of the pen and realize that the water buckets that are out are horse size, as you would expect, and when the water level gets too low the goats can't reach it because the height of the bucket keeps them from being able to bend their necks (they're just pygmies).
That's a problem that I'm responsible for, so I filled their rubber bucket I'd brought with water so I'd know they'd have access to water if they needed it. By the time I got there, the goats were panting, and one was even shaking. I wet them down and made sure they ate and drank, and when we left, since I have no phone at the moment, my mom texted the owner to let her know about the water problem ( she didn't tell her but we were going to buy smaller buckets) and that we weren't sure if the mini situation was working out, so we were going to 'put our heads together to see if we can come up with a better situation' and get back to her (meaning we'd see if we could rent out a stall for a higher board fee). I think perhaps the owner felt insulted, or thought we wanted to call off the agreement, because what she replied with was "Maybe she should take them back home, she's obsessed with them like they're real children." and "They're fine. They're goats. If they can eat hay off the ground they can drink out of a bucket, she's making no sense. That's absolutely insane etc etc"
Yes, I do treat them like kids! And I don't regret that. I want to make sure they're safe and comfortable, like any person who has a pet they care about. Pretty sure she thinks I'm paranoid because I also brought a tiny bit of baking soda and oil to give the goats as a preventative the day after they moved into the barn just in case they bloated from something in the new environment. But hey, their health is important to me, and I did that at home too.
I don't want to offend this woman and I know she's raised goats before, but every animal is different, just as your dog is different from someone else's dog, and the same method of management is not going to work for all of them. And when you're looking after someone else's animal, shouldn't the owner's instructions matter even just a little bit? I don't think I'm asking any more than the people who board their horses there, but everything I say is brushed off or ignored.
The goats are also not locked up inside at night, they have access to the pen, which worries me GREATLY. I understand that she probably does not want to lock up everyone inside at night because she wants the ponies to be able to go back and forth, but I really wish we could figure something else out. It also kind of bothers me that she said she'd lock it up for the first night they were there, at least, and then told me the next day that it was a nice night so she didn't lock it up. The fence still isn't even fixed yet, so....
What do you guys think? Am I being too paranoid here? I haven't really talked to the woman directly about most of my concerns because I didn't want to be a nag, but now seeing how she replied to the one text message... I'm just very disappointed and frustrated and so so worried about my goats.
Last edited by sharkespeare; 07-29-2013 at 04:54 PM.
keep looking - you need to find a place that is willing to understand your needs. A goat to a horse person isnt the same thing as it is to us. Believe me she wouldnt treat her horse boarders like that.
Trust your gut. If you don't feel this is the right situation for you and your goats, I would definitely try to find something else. Leaving them someplace you aren't comfortable with will only make you sick with worry.
I see no problem with your expectations and treating them like your children.
I hope you either resolve your issues or find something better soon!!
3 children, 2 Nigerian Dwarf doelings, 1 dog, 2 cats, and 4 rabbits Primrose and Amber
bleating-goat-farm: Thank you! Every time I say something it's basically 'this person has years of experience on you etc etc' but when it comes down to it, that doesn't really mean much. It's not how long you've been doing it, it's how much effort you put into it, imo.
Sylvie: I did try craigslist, but I might try again soon! Most of the replies I got were either people with no experience with goats looking for some to 'mow their lawn', people with inadequate shelters (somebody only had a car port, no barn), and people who agree at first but then change their minds when they realize that the goats had horns (the first woman I had been talking to before I purchased the goats changed her mind because of this, and so did another woman about two months ago). I do wish they were wethers instead of bucks, but since they're a year now, my vet said that they are too old to do an 'in the field' procedure because they could bleed out really quickly. She stressed that if I got them castrated I should do it surgically in the lab, so now it's a matter of saving up the funds and deciding if I want to go through with it. I'm probably going to wait until I'm certain they're in a place I can look after them properly, though.
Stacey - Exactly! She seems to really care about the horses so I wasn't expecting this kind of outlook from her, it's really disappointing. I understand if people view their own livestock as lesser to other animals (though I don't agree), but not mine, not my babies. I just want to be treated like a boarder, but it's only been three days and I've been made to feel like a nuisance.
goatiegirl - Thank you! It definitely has been stressful. It's not like I can even message her and ask how they are doing now, because I'll be 'that nag' again. So at this point it really feels like giving them up because I don't have any say in how they are even being cared for. I really want to get them out of there but at the same time I feel awful for my parents because I know it's stressing them out too, trying to help me find a place for them, and we really thought this was the one. My mom went with me and has a horse, so she understands exactly what's bothering me, but unfortunately neither she or my dad know anything about goats so they don't fully grasp the importance of the situation. We're probably going to have a talk with the owner the next time we go and if anything gets worse I may just end up taking them back home.
Last edited by sharkespeare; 07-29-2013 at 05:52 PM.
I would honestly try and find a different place for them or I would sell them until you have a place of your own to keep them. I know you love your goats but finding a good boarding spot for them could pose major problems. Have you thought about contacting different goat breeders to see if they will let you board them? A horse person is not necessarily a goat person. If you aren't where you can check on them daily, I wouldn't be comfortable with them staying anywhere that didn't have a good goat person on hand. Goats can go downhill fast and with no goat person there, it is a disaster in the making.
Really if you want them cared for properly you need to be willing to do it yourself. A place with a carport is actually what I may have to do hear soon and Im totally cool with it. So I wouldnt disregard options like that. If someone has a field/yard with a place you can build/put up a shelter and fencing and do your own feeding/water that woudl work too.
Remember it doesnt have to be a perfect barn to house goats. Ive been doign this for 16 years and my goats have had various shelters over the years and Ive seen many different farm set ups. Minis really dont need much by way of shelter especially buck/wethers. Now if there are preditor issues yes have somethign you can lock them up in a night is good. I rarely locked mine up even when I could. Now i cant so it doesnt even matter. But I plan on locking mine up at our new house due to not knowing whats in the area.
ogfabby - I hadn't thought about it, but I will try! Thank you! I'm definitely not comfortable with where they are.
Stacey - Yeah the predators are just a huge concern for me, we have a LOT around here even in my yard, I've walked out the door to come face to face with a baby coyote skidding around the corner of my house, and you can hear the pack howling at night. So I know we have plenty. We did offer to pay for and build a seperate area for them if she would let us, but she declined because she said it would be more shoveling for her to do in the winter. I'd offer to do the shoveling but I'm pretty sure she'd still say no.
yeah sounds like you need a new place. Sometimes boarding works sometimes it doesnt. You have to chalk it up to learning a lesson and knowing better what to look for.
dont give up - just keep looking and calling around. Some places will offer free self board. They have the property and want it to be utilized but dont want to do any work for the actual animals. you go in and feed, water etc.