Your Neighborhood- Goats

Moriah Flanagan teaches my kids about her kids

If I’m going to live off the land, I need to make raising food easy, fun and affordable. I also want some meat as I’m not a vegetarian nor would I like to regress to my college days! My daughters need to learn some lessons about where there food comes from and help with chores reasonable for their little hands. Furthermore, I want technology to be used to its fullest advantage so I can keep my day job and not force my husband to quit his!

IMG_6589One solution to my problem may be goats.  Two miles north of my house, lives neighbor and Junior of Garretson High School, Moriah Flanagan. She is a poised and articulate as she visits about goat raising in her backyard.  Moriah is the president of the Springdell Rock County 4-H which my three daughters recently enrolled. The mission of Minnesota 4-H Youth Development is “to engage youth, in partnership with adults, in quality learning opportunities that enable them to shape and reach their full potential as active citizens in a global community”.  The flexibility in pursuing almost any self-directed program is wonderful and the strength of the program includes the wisdom of its members.

Muriel holds one of the kids

My middle daughter immediately became interested in goats after seeing Moriah’s passion (and maybe a few episodes of Heidi on Netflix)! We first met her at the Springdell Christmas Party (also exciting due to its location at Sioux Falls Skyzone). Less than a month later we were graciously invited to meet “Gonzo”, the new mother of twin kids.

Moriah Flanagan and her father John

John and Kari Flanagan, Moriah’s parents, are adult advisors for the club and share in her enthusiasm. Moriah and John gave us the Cliff Notes version of raising goats on an acreage like ours.

Gonzo nursing 10 days old Dot and Dash

Nanny and Billy goats can breed at ten months of age. Five months ago, Moriah moved her 4 female goats to pen them with male goats from John’s brother’s farm. The nannies’  pregnancy was confirmed with a simple blood test. Back at the Flanagan farm, Boer Goat “Gonzo” moved to an indoor pen of their back shed when they anticipated she would give birth. Gestational period is 5mo and 5days. John installed a digital video camera capable of night vision to monitor when Gonzo would give birth.  The first hours of life are tenuous, especially when born in the winter, and missing the delivery could mean life or death. Twin kids, “Dot” and “Dash” were born healthy just 10 days ago.

Once weaned from their mother, goats eat copious weeds and browse the yard for weeds, rather than graze everything that’s available. Through the winter months, Moriah supplements their diet with game pellets and alfalfa hay. 

So how do I keep this easy, fun and affordable?

Claire and two expecting Nanny Goats

To make things easy- We have already installed an Invisible Fence to contain our Labrador. If not already familiar with this, a cable is buried around the perimeter of your yard. Pets wear a collar that audibly warns pets when they are too close to the boundary and gives a small shock if they attempt to pass through it.  Invisible Fence only guarantees success with more traditional pets. Nevertheless, I did hear a rumor that Invisible Fence contains goats at Prairie Village in Madison, SD. I will likely buy an extra collar for the goat and look into some training techniques. I hope she is smart! To be honest, I love the idea of not building a large fenced structure. If anyone doubts whether it will work, I don’t want to know!

To make things fun- What is more fun than animals you can watch grow, feed and pet?!?Consider your local 4-H as a way to meet others with similar enthusiasm and generate interest in budding gardeners and hobby farmers. Springdell 4-H is also in the last week of their annual “Fruit and More” sale. Money generated from the sale supports activities throughout the year such as county and state fairs, camps, and project meetings. Orders are due Feb 8th if wanting to support Fresh Produce Coop Garretson. Fruit will be delivered March 18th, 2016.

To make things affordable- There are several other local goat sale options you can easily find online. If in the Sioux Falls area, check out the Dakota Dynasty Lamb and Goat Sale April 9, 2016. Other common sources of goats include local farmers and 4-H participants like Moriah, who are successful enough in their flock to produce more animals than they have time to show. Moriah previously showed 5 goats at the Rock Country Fair which she wouldn’t do again. “Five was too many. The most I’d show again is four”. With 3 more nannies expecting kids in April, she has kids willing to sell us.

Moriah Flanagan in outdoor pen



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