Before Albus and Lars were born, Hyla asked us if she could keep a male kid (if Willow had one) so that she could train it to pull a goat cart full of milk and cheese up the road near our house, delivering dairy products to the neighborhood.
Since we believed that Willow was bound to have triplets (according to her size, and the prediction of her previous owner/breeder), we
figured hoped we’d get at least one doe kid, possibly two, and that there’d be a buckling for Hyla to train. So we said, “sure!”
Turns out we got two perfect little bucklings and no doelings. If we were real dairy farmers, we would have sold off both of those little boys at eight weeks old, knowing they were no use for milking nor for our breeding program. But, no, we’re beginning dairy farmers, and suckers for baby animals, and for our daughter. And so now we have two roly poly little wethers, who will earn their living by entertaining us, snuzzling us, and possibly pulling carts or carrying packs.
For her birthday, we gave Hyla a booklet called Training Goats to Pull a Cart. And since then? To tell the truth, we’ve been delinquent goat trainers. We’ve socialized the little guys by cuddling them and handling them, but we haven’t done much at all in the way of training them and, as they get larger, that gets a little worrisome. They’re a pair of sweethearts, but someday they’ll be grown goats and, whether or not they ever learn to pull a cart, they’d better learn to be led by us.
So, finally, today, we started step one of the cart-training program: lead each goatling out of the pen on a leash.
Albus, because he’s far easier to catch, was out first. At first, he hovered close to the fence, to stay near the security of the herd, but after just a few minutes, he was taking Hyla for a walk around the yard.
And then for a run.
Everyone else watched intently.
It wasn’t long until Albus was finding all the tasty leaves and tall grass irresistable and we had to convince him he really did want to go back in the pen.
Next up was Lars. As usual, he was resistant to being captured, but once I had a good hold on his collar, he stood still and I got the lead clipped on. Then I had to sort of shove him out the gate.
At first, he ran in wild circles, clearly a bit panicked and confused, but he calmed down after just a minute, staying close to the gate and his family for comfort.
Brother and mom kept their eyes glued to him.
With the judicious use of animal crackers, Hyla convinced Lars to venture out into the yard,
And soon he was leading the exploration.
We gave him a few more minutes to wander, then led him back to the pen, not wanting to push our luck and risk his getting panicked by something.
We’re a long way from a harness, let alone a cart, but maybe we’re only a few weeks from training a goat to heel?